Originally under the title of Mathematics and Civil Engineering, Civil Engineering ranks as the first of the "special" professional courses offered by the University. The purpose of that first course at OSU was:
"To enable our pupils to survey their own land, lay out roads, take levels for ditches, embankments, and under-drains, construct bridges, etc. and in short to fit them for the several avocations in life for which a knowledge acquired in this department is indispensable."
and this still remains the ambition of this department.
At the close of that first year the faculty decided that the institution should bestow the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Civil Engineering upon those who had gone through the required courses of study. Civil Engineering, therefore, ranks as the first of the "special" or professional courses offered by the University.
Certificates of proficiency in civil engineering were awarded to three persons at the 1881 commencement. In 1882 Civil Engineering became an official department. It was not until 1883 that the University graduated its first civil engineer. Those before 1883 pursued careers as soon as they felt they had learned enough to go to work.
In 1885 the School of Engineering was established and included mechanical, physics, chemical, mining, geology, civil engineering, math and astrology, and military science. In 1890 engineering drawing was established. In 1895 the School of Engineering was changed to the College of Engineering.
Today the department is a larger and more effective working unit dedicated to giving graduates a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of engineering. At the same time, the department strives to develop student innovation, management, and research abilities.