The Department of Ceramic Engineering came into being through the efforts of Charles W. Rolfe, professor of geology at the University of Illinois. In 1894 Professor Rolfe printed and distributed the "Bill for an Act to Establish a Laboratory of Economic Geology," a step which had the support of the Illinois Clay Manufacturers Association as well as mining groups within the state.1 Members of the Association were particularly enthusiastic about Professor Rolfe's plan; they saw in it a response to their request that "provision be made at the University for training young men to serve the technological needs of the Ceramics Industry" but it was not until 1905 that the state legislature responded to these requests. In that year a bill was passed which provided for a State Geological Survey and directed the University to commence instruction in ceramic technology.2 On June 2, 1905, the Board of Trustees voted "that a course in ceramics be constituted in the University at a cost not to exceed $5,000 per year and that the President of the University be authorized to submit . . . the outline of a suitable curriculum and to nominate the necessary instructors."3 On December 10, 1905, President James authorized creation of the Department of Ceramics, with a curriculum devoted to study and research in the technology of clay wares.4 From 1905 to 1910 courses in ceramics and ceramic engineering were offered through the Department of Geology in the College of Science.5 Complete courses in Ceramics and in cement making were offered by 1906.6 In 1910 the new Department of Ceramics was part of the College of Science.7 It was renamed the Department of Ceramic Engineering in 1915 and was transferred to the College of Engineering.8 In its early years the Department of Ceramic Engineering was housed in two rooms in the basement of the Natural History Building. In 1916 the present three-story Ceramics Building was completed.9
In February 1989, the Departments of Metallurgy and Mining Engineering and Ceramic Engineering were merged to form the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. See also Subgroups 11/5 and 11/9.10
1. Ira O. Baker and Everett E. King, A History of the College of Engineering of the University of Illinois, 1868-1945, Part I (Urbana), p. 505.
2. Ibid., p. 505.
3. Board of Trustees Transactions, 23rd Report, June 2 1905, p. 74.
4. Baker and King, p. 506.
5. Ibid., p. 506.
6. Catalogue and Registers, 1906-07, pp. 100-102.
7. Board of Trustees Transactions, 25th Report, June 29, 1910, p. 573.
8. Ibid., 27th Report, June 9, 1914, p. 762.
9. Baker and King, pp. 507-509.
10. Board of Trustees Transactions, 64th Report, February 4, 1988, pp. 466-67.