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University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science

The School of Engineering and Applied Science, also known as SEAS, is one of the four undergraduate schools of the University of Pennsylvania. The School offers programs that emphasize hands-on study of engineering fundamentals (with an offering of approximately 300 courses) while encouraging students to leverage the educational offerings of the broader University. Engineering students can also take advantage of research opportunities through interactions with Penn’s School of Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers bachelors, masters and PhD degree programs in contemporary fields of engineering study. The nationally ranked bioengineering department offers the School’s most popular undergraduate degree program. The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, offered in partnership with the Wharton School, allows students to simultaneously earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. The School of Engineering and Applied Science also offers several masters programs, which include: Executive Master’s in Technology Management, Master of Biotechnology, Master of Computer and Information Technology, Master of Computer and Information Science and a Master of Science in Engineering in Telecommunications and Networking.

The Towne building, part of the SEAS campus.

SEAS history

The study of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania can be traced back to 1850 when the University trustees adopted a resolution providing for a professorship of "Chemistry as Applied to the Arts".[1] In 1852, the study of engineering was further formalized with the establishment of the School of Mines, Arts and Manufactures. The first Professor of Civil and Mining Engineering was appointed in 1852. The first graduate of the school received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1854. Since that time, the school has grown to six departments. In 1973, the school was renamed as the School of Engineering and Applied Science.[1]

The early growth of the school benefited from the generosity of two Philadelphians: John Henry Towne and Alfred Fitler Moore. Towne, a mechanical engineer and railroad developer, bequeathed the school a gift of $500,000 upon his death in 1875.[2] The main administration building for the school still bears his name. Moore was a successful entrepreneur who made his fortune manufacturing telegraph cable. A 1923 gift from Moore established the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, which is the birthplace of the first electronic general-purpose Turing-complete digital computer, ENIAC, in 1946.

During the latter half of the 20th century the school continued to break new ground. In 1958, Barbara G. Mandell became the first woman to enroll as an undergraduate in the School of Engineering. In 1965, the university acquired two sites that were formerly used as U.S. Army Nike Missile Base (PH 82L and PH 82R) and created the Valley Forge Research Center. In 1976, the Management and Technology Program was created. In 1990, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Science were first offered, followed by a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology in 1997.

The school continues to expand with the addition of the Melvin and Claire Levine Hall for computer science in 2003,[3] Skirkanich Hall for bioengineering in 2006, and the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology in 2013.

Academic departments

Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is organized into six departments:[4]

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Computer and Information Science
  • Electrical and Systems Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

The school’s Department of Bioengineering, originally named Biomedical Electronic Engineering, consistently garners a top-ten ranking at both the undergraduate and graduate level from U.S. News & World Report.[5]

Founded in 1893, the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is “America’s oldest continuously operating degree-granting program in chemical engineering.” [6]

The Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering is recognized for its research in electroscience, systems science and network systems and telecommunications.

Originally established in 1946 as the School of Metallurgical Engineering, the Materials Science and Engineering Department “includes cutting edge programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology, biomaterials, ceramics, polymers, and metals.”[7]

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics draws its roots from the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, which was established in 1876.

Each department houses one or more degree programs. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics departments house only one degree program. Bioengineering houses two programs (both a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree as well as a Bachelor of Applied Science degree).

Electrical and Systems Engineering is home to the following degree programs, which are all Bachelor of Science in Engineering programs:

The Computer and Information Science department is home to:

  • Computer and Information Science (Bachelor of Science in Engineering)
  • Computer and Information Science (Bachelor of Applied Science)
  • Singh Program in Networked & Social Systems Engineering (NETS) (co-housed with Electrical and Systems Engineering)
  • Computer Engineering (co-housed with Electrical and Systems Engineering)
  • Digital Media Design (Bachelor of Science in Engineering)


Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science is a research institution. SEAS research strives to advance science and engineering and to achieve a positive impact on society. Faculty at Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science have created several centers for advanced study including:

Centers and Institutes for Advanced Studies[8]
  • Centers
    • Center for Engineering Cells and Regeneration (CECR)
    • Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS)
    • General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab
    • Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC)
    • Penn Center for Bioinformatics (PCBi)
    • Penn Center for Molecular Discovery (PCMD)
    • Penn Center for Energy Innovation (Pennergy)
    • Penn Research in Embedded Computing and Integrated Systems Engineering (PRECISE)
    • Penn Research in Machine Learning (PRiML)
  • Institutes
    • Institute For Medicine and Engineering (IME)
    • Institute for Research in Cognitive Science (IRCS)
    • Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM)
    • Penn Genome Frontiers Institute (PGFI)

Engineering Alumni Society

The Penn Engineering community enjoys an alumni community who organize a variety of activities throughout the year. Playing a critical role in the alumni network is the Penn Engineering Alumni Society,[9] which is chartered to:

  • Connect Penn Engineering Alumni with each other
  • Strengthen the bond between Penn Engineering Alumni and the School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Provide educational programming for current Penn Engineering students

Regular events hosted by the Engineering Alumni Society include:[10]

Career Panels: These panels give students the opportunity to interact with engineering professionals from both traditional and non-traditional career paths. The panels are intended to help students evaluate career options.

Senior Design Competition: The Engineering Alumni Society sponsors this annual event for graduating undergraduate seniors. The event gives students the opportunity to showcase their year-long projects to a group of practicing professional engineers, who represent diverse technology disciplines. In addition to the technical merits of the project, an emphasis is placed on the student's ability to effectively communicate the objective, approach and conclusion of the project. Cash prizes are awarded to the top 3 finishing teams.

Summer Barbecue for Graduate Students: For over 10 years, the Engineering Alumni Society has been sponsoring a summer barbecue for graduate students in order to give them a break from their research and to give them an opportunity to socialize with other students.

D. Robert Yarnall Award Presentation: A recipient for the Yarnall Award is selected annually by the Engineering Alumni Society.


D. Robert Yarnall Award

At the conclusion of the academic year, Penn's Engineering Alumni Society selects an alum to receive the Yarnall Award. The award is named after industrialist D. Robert Yarnall, who was instrumental in driving the growth of Yarnall Waring Company (later known as Yarway) into a multinational producer of specialty powerplant valves. The Yarnall Award is presented in recognition of "an outstanding contribution in the field of engineering to society, either in public service, private industry, or education.”[11] Notable recipients to date are:

Year Recipient
1969 Sarkes Tarzian EE'24, GEE'27, HON'74
1973 J. Presper Eckert, Jr. EE'41,GEE'43,HON'64
1984 Nathaniel C. Wyeth ME'36
2000 Bernard S. Baker CHE'57, GCH'59
2003 George H. Heilmeier, EE'58
2006 Jack Keil Wolf EE'56
2008 Robert G. Gallager EE '53

Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology

The Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology is given by the Nano/Bio Interface Center each year to an outstanding researcher in nanotechnology.[12]

Year Recipient Institution Rationale
2005 75px Horst Störmer Columbia University "[for having] worked extensively on the properties of two-dimensional electron sheets in semiconductors"
2006 75px Steven M. Block Stanford University "[for having] pioneered the use of laser-based optical traps (or “optical tweezers”) to study the nanoscale motions of individual biomolecules"
2007 Charles M. Lieber Harvard University "[for having] pioneered the synthesis of a broad range of nanoscale materials, the characterization of the unique physical properties of these materials and the development of methods of hierarchical assembly of nanoscale wires, together with the demonstration of applications of these materials in nanoelectronics, nanocomputing, biological and chemical sensing, neurobiology, and nanophotonics"
Christoph Gerber University of Basal "[for having] focused on nanoscale science as a pioneer in scanning probe microscopy, making major contributions to the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope and the atomic force microscope (AFM)"
2008 Naomi J. Halas Rice University "[for] inventing nanoshells, a new type of nanoparticle with tunable optical properties"
2009 Harold Craighead Cornell University "[for having] been a pioneer in nanofabrication methods and the application of engineered nanosystems for research and device applications"
2010 75px Angela Belcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology [13]
2011 75px Don Eigler "[for having] specialized in the development and use of low temperature scanning tunneling microscopes"
2012 Toshio Ando Kanazawa University "[for] developing high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) techniques to directly visualize protein molecules in action at high spatiotemporal resolution"[14]
2013 Joseph W. Lyding University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign "[for] develop[ing] one of the first STMs in the US, which he used to study charge density waves. This work evolved to studies of silicon surfaces under ultrahigh vacuum"[15][16]
2014 Charles Marcus University of Copenhagen "[for] experiments on spin control in semiconductor quantum dot systems, control of electronic states in nanowires, carbon nanotubes and graphene, development of hyperpolarized nanoparticles for medical imaging, interferometry in the fractional quantum Hall effect, and detection of Majorana fermions in semiconductor/superconductor hybrid structures"

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Penn Engineering - History and Heritage". 
  2. "Towne silver, University of Pennsylvania University Archives". 
  3. "Levine Hall, Melvin and Claire - Weiss Tech House". 
  4. "Penn Engineering - Fast Facts". 
  5. "Best Biomedical and Bioengineering Programs - Top Engineering Schools - US News Best Graduate Schools". 
  6. "Welcome to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE)". 
  7. "Welcome to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)". 
  8. "Centers and Institutes". Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  9. "Penn Engineering - Engineering Alumni Society". 
  10. "Penn Engineering - Special Events". 
  11. "Recipients of D. Robert Yarnall Award". Penn Engineering. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  12. "Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology". UPenn Nano/Bio Interface Center. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  13. "NanoDay@Penn Schedule of Events" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  14. "NBIC Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology: Toshio Ando, 2012 Recipient" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  15. "NanoDay@Penn". UPenn Nano/Bio Interface Center. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  16. Damery, Jonathan (12 November 2013). "Lyding receives NBIC award". UIUC Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 

External links

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