Ask Abe: Education Building

Chelsea S. ’13

Who are Stephenson and Watt, the names above the main door in the Education Building?

Abe

Stephenson is George Stephenson, a designer of early locomotives, and Watt is James Watt, whose inventions greatly improved the steam engine — neither of whom actually have any affiliation with the UW. Their names, and several others around the façade, are evidence of the building’s beginnings as the College of Engineering, housed there from 1900 until 1951. By 1910, this first “Engineering Hall” was already clearly too small for the college it housed. To make more room, the UW began to create the engineering campus to the southwest of Bascom Hill. It took decades to make the engineering campus a reality. Its first building, Mechanical Engineering, opened in 1933. It took another 18 years to remove the last of the engineers from Bascom Hill. The art education program then moved into the former Engineering Hall, taking up residence in what had been the old machine shop. Eventually the whole School of Education made the building its home.

Other names that appear on the façade include

  • (Sir Henry) Bessemer, whose Bessmer Process improved steel making
  • (Edwin) Reynolds, who developed the Corliss-Reynolds triple expansion pumping system (used in water works)
  • (Zenobe) Gramme, inventor of the Gramme machine (which generates electricity)
  • (John) Ericsson, who designed the ship USS Monitor
  • (William Thomson) Kelvin, whose temperature scale goes all the way to absolute zero and measures in centigrade degrees
  • (William) Rankine, whose Rankine temperature scale also goes to absolute zero, but measures in Fahrenheit degrees
  • (Carl Wilhelm) Siemens, whose regenerative furnace improved steam engines
  • (Joseph) Henry, first director of the Smithsonian Institution
  • (George) Corliss, who developed the Corliss steam engine
  • (Thomas) Telford, who designed a series of canals across England