When Sylvanus Thayer established an engineering school at Dartmouth, he created the kind of institution he wished he could have attended. As a young man, he wanted a technical education that would prepare him to be an engineer, but at the time no such institution existed in this country. He pursued the next-best thing: a college that offered advanced mathematics as well as a classical education. In 1803 he entered Dartmouth. Though named valedictorian of the class of 1807, Thayer left before the graduation ceremony to become a cadet at the five-year-old United States Military Academy.
In 1867, Thayer brought engineering to Dartmouth. He not only offered $70,000—an enormous sum at the time—to create an engineering school, he also detailed the curriculum: technical studies built on a strong liberal arts foundation. Over one hundred fifty years later, his Thayer School of Engineering continues the educational model he invented.
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Image courtesy of the Rauner Special Collections Library
View an album of photos from Thayer's history on Flickr