Berkeley Engineering History

Engineering has been a core part of UC Berkeley’s identity since it was founded in 1868. The legislative act that created the University of California specified that professors of mechanic arts, mining and civil engineering be among the first faculty to be hired.

Reflecting California’s Gold Rush roots, mining and extraction were popular early majors. The College of Mining got a new home in 1907 with the completion of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building. Behind the building is the now-closed Lawson Adit, a teaching mine that stretches to the Hayward Fault.

In 1924, Hesse Hall became home to the College of Mechanics. The colleges of Mechanics and Civil Engineering merged in 1931 to become the new College of Engineering, which contained the Departments of Civil Engineering and of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. McLaughlin Hall, built in 1924, became the administrative hub of the newly combined college. The College of Engineering expanded further when the College of Mining joined it in 1942.

The College of Engineering continues to evolve and grow, and is now home to nine engineering programs in seven departments, with activities in more than a dozen buildings on campus. This includes Cory Hall, built in 1950 to house the growing electrical engineering department where foundational research would set the stage for revolutions in the computer and microelectronics industry.

The college also has extensive, large-scale engineering research facilities, including one of the world’s largest earthquake simulators, located at the Richmond Field Station site seven miles from campus.

These facilities support the college’s mission. Berkeley Engineers have helped build California, literally—from its water, transportation and energy infrastructure to the high-tech powerhouses in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area that remain critical drivers of economic growth.