Brown University has transformed its Division of Engineering into the Brown School of Engineering. The Corporation of Brown University approved the designation, effective July 1, 2010, at its May meeting. The School will educate scholars through a focused strategy of building on existing strengths, attract world-class faculty and increase engineering's share of federal funding for research in areas of national importance.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Corporation of Brown University has approved transformation of the University’s Division of Engineering into the Brown School of Engineering, effective July 1. The Corporation took that action at its spring business meeting Friday, May 28, 2010. The University’s faculty had voted its approval of the proposal on April 6.

“Today’s monumental scientific and societal challenges depend greatly upon engineering know-how for advances in biology, medicine, clean energy and nanotechnology,” Brown President Ruth J. Simmons said. “The Corporation’s approval of a School of Engineering underscores our commitment to maintain and enhance the engineering curriculum and research activities that attract the brightest students and the highest caliber faculty.”

Many recent studies, including a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, note that a comprehensive and coordinated effort is urgently needed to bolster the nation’s competitiveness and pre-eminence in the physical sciences. A school of engineering will support the University’s continued recruitment of outstanding faculty and students and its strategy of building on existing strengths in energy and the environment, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, photonics, solid mechanics, and the mechanical behavior of materials.

Developing engineering as a school has been a work in progress for more than a decade. The idea received strong support from President Simmons, whose Plan for Academic Enrichment has expanded research and faculty across the University. A team of engineering faculty led by Rodney Clifton, the Rush C. Hawkins University Professor of Engineering and interim dean of engineering, presented a School of Engineering proposal to the Provost’s office in December 2008. Clifton will continue as interim dean until a founding dean is named.

“We are grateful to the administration, the faculty and the Corporation for supporting our proposal,” Clifton said. “By establishing a School, Brown has taken a big step toward raising its historic and renowned engineering program to a new level. This action ensures that Brown engineering will play a significant role in addressing the science and technology challenges that our society faces and will remain competitive nationally and internationally.”

“The University community is grateful to Dean Clifton for shepherding the School of Engineering proposal to its successful vote today,” Brown Provost David Kertzer said.

The School of Engineering expects to increase its share of external funding for research through faculty growth in areas of national importance and by expanding collaborative efforts with colleagues throughout the University.

“The federal funding agencies are increasingly interested in applied and translational research, the type of scientific investigation that helps solve societal problems,” said Clyde Briant, vice president for research and professor of engineering. “Having a strong engineering school at Brown will undoubtedly help our faculty and students compete effectively for federal research dollars and contribute to solving challenging problems.”

Engineering is the No. 1 area of academic interest expressed by members of the Class of 2014, who will matriculate this fall. The Division of Engineering currently has 437 undergraduate students and 178 graduate students, taught by 40 full-time, tenure-track faculty. Engineering is one of the most popular concentrations at Brown, with 140 students in the Class of 2013 pursuing it as a concentration.

Established in 1847, the undergraduate engineering program at the University is the oldest in the Ivy League and the third oldest civilian engineering program in the country, preceded only by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1824) and Union College (1845). In 1916, the departments of civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering were merged into one Division of Engineering with a common core of basic engineering courses. This model has been preserved, ensuring that faculty and students engage in an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to engineering.

Notable engineering alumni include George M.C. Fisher, former CEO and chairman of Eastman Kodak; John Chen, chairman, CEO and president of the data management company Sybase Inc.; Daniel R. DiMicco, chairman, president, and CEO of Nucor Steel Co., the largest producer of steel in the United States; and H. David Hibbitt, founder, and Paul Sorensen, partner, at Hibbitt, Karlsson & Sorensen Inc., a company specializing in computational solid mechanics software with headquarters in Providence, R.I., and 190 employees in 12 offices worldwide.

Engineering at Brown

Engineering Faculty

Brown currently has approximately 40 full-time, tenure-track faculty members in engineering. Externally supported research reported in fiscal year 2009 included:

  • Fiscal year 2009 awards total: $16,463,705
  • Graduate research assistants supported: 108
  • Current externally funded collaborations with biology and medicine: $58,696,820.

Faculty in the Division of Engineering account for:

  • 16 fellows of professional societies
  • 10 recent National Science Foundation Career Awards
  • Four members of the National Academy of Engineering
  • One member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • One fellow of the Royal Society
  • Four members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • One fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Engineering Students

Brown currently enrolls 437 undergraduate students and 178 graduate students in engineering.


  • Class of 2010: 89 graduating seniors (34% women)
  • Class of 2011: 103 concentrators (34% women)
  • Class of 2012: 105 concentrators (34% women)
  • Class of 2013: 140 current students (30% women)

Ph.D. Students:

  • Ph.D. students per full faculty member: 3.1
  • All Ph.D. students are guaranteed five years of financial support.
  • Brown accepts approximately 12 percent of applicants for engineering Ph.D. programs.