Leading Innovation: A Brief History of Stevens

Stevens Institute of Technology is named for the distinguished family known as "America's First Family of Inventors." The Stevens family changed the face of American engineering forever, designing steamboats, locomotives, railroad tracks and a host of other technical innovations that powered a new nation.

When inventor Edwin A. Stevens died in 1868, his will provided for the establishment of the university that now bears his family’s name. Two years later, in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology opened, offering a rigorous engineering curriculum leading to the degree of Mechanical Engineer following a course of study firmly grounded both in scientific principles and the humanities.

The First Student PCs, the First Intranets

Over subsequent decades, Stevens grew by leaps and bounds, evolving from a relatively small four-year undergraduate college of engineering into a leading global technical institution with particular strengths in key fields such as defense, maritime engineering, management and finance. The university produced two Nobel Prize winners and countless new technologies, including a new process for producing synthetic penicillin.

In 1971, Stevens opened its doors to women for the first time. In 1982, Stevens became the first major U.S. educational institution to require students to purchase and use personal computers in the classroom. At approximately this same time, Stevens also developed one of the nation’s first intranets, foretelling a revolution in information technology.

Email, Bubble Wrap and the Big Bang

Today Stevens continues to grow, expanding enrollment, facilities and research programs. The university's collaborations with industry and government include three National Centers of Excellence, designations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and Office of Naval Research.

Stevens faculty and alumni continue to make a significant impact globally, building upon the legacy of its founding family:

  • Stevens alumni invented IMAP (the modern form of email); bubble wrap; and the Gantt chart, among many other innovations.

  • Stevens graduate Alexander Calder invented the hanging art form known as the mobile.

  • A Stevens graduate, Frederick Reines, discovered the neutrino, validating the "Big Bang" theory of the universe's creation. He was awarded a Nobel Prize.

  • Stevens graduate Richard Reeves received both an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award for his documentary film work; he has also written authoritative biographies of a half-dozen U.S. Presidents.

  • Faculty and students continue to create pathbreaking new technologies and solutions for the pressing challenges of engineering, finance, homeland security, cybersecurity, medicine and other critical disciplines.