Celebrating a Century of USC Engineering
Inventing the Future…Honoring the Past
While USC marks its 125th anniversary, The USC Viterbi School of Engineering is celebrating 100 years
A century ago, the University of Southern California established an engineering
program fitting a young university in a frontier boomtown. Los Angeles was a town
of only 100,000, huge ambitions and little else. Ambition guided by vision can
travel a long way, however, and a lot was happening in Los Angeles.
In 1905 the city’s voters approved a bond project to build an
aqueduct to bring
the water needed for growth from the Owens Valley. In 1906, Los Angeles
first movie theater – and its first motion picture studio. A year
Feeth, an Anglo-Hawaiian, introduced surfing to California at Redondo
Beach. Only 20 years later, Los Angeles had a population of over
1 million. Of these,
43,000 were real estate agents.
USC Engineering grew at a similar rate. The handful of civil and
courses originally offered in the 1905-06 school year expanded into a
by 1925. In 1927, the University established a College of Engineering
departments: chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical and petroleum
engineering. In that same year the little known USC Trojans
played the famed Notre Dame Fighting
Irish at Soldier Field in Chicago before 120,000 people, the largest
to watch a football game. (USC lost 7-6. The Trojans won 27-14 the following year, establishing USC as a
national football power.)
What is now the Widney Alumni House served as the home of civil engineering at
USC in 1912.
USC and its engineering school have been recording firsts throughout their history.
During World War II, the school provided the country with its largest Engineering
Science and Management War Training program…
In the post-war environment, the school became a national leader in the explosive
growth in space and communications technologies…
In the 70s, it became a cradle of the Internet…In the 90s, a frontrunner in federal
science and technology research...
And in a new millennium, the school’s past became a prologue to its present –
and a signpost toward an extraordinarily promising future. In 2004, Erna and Andrew
Viterbi, a 1962 alumnus and a founding father of the digital age, gave engineering
at USC a challenging legacy and proud new name: the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.