170 Years of Engineering: A Brief History

Celebrating the past, the present, and the immense potential of the Tandon community in the years ahead

In 1854, two schools were founded, forming the earliest foundations upon which NYU Tandon would ultimately be built: The Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, and the University of the City of New York (now known as NYU) School of Civil Engineering and Architecture. 

Female working on laptop

Polytechnic Institute, Brooklyn

sepia-toned photo of NYU heights campus in Bronx

School of Civil Engineering, Heights Campus

The two schools, founded to bring engineering education to America's largest metropolis, would merge, diverge, and merge again over the next 170 years. Our institution has had many names — Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, Polytechnic University, to state just a few — but it has always held the torch for a foundational belief: that harnessing the power of science and technology will lead to a better society and more opportunity for all.

The path has been winding, crossing boroughs from the Bronx to the heart of Brooklyn — the city’s most populous borough and a place that has become the epicenter of arts, culture and technology in a city known for being on the cutting edge. We’re celebrating 170 years of engineering from this unique campus, in a one-of-a-kind borough, in one of the world’s most vibrant, global cities. Learn more about what brought us here.

10 Years of Unified Traditions

NYU Poly + NYU: 2 strong traditions, 1 even stronger future

The Merger

In 2014, NYU completed the official merger with Polytechnic University, returning engineering education to the largest university in NYC. Since then, the school has risen in the rankings, expanded its facilities, evolved its education, and charted new research frontiers to build on a long history of excellence.

In 2015, Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon generously donated $100 million to the school to fund its mission and promise of engineering education excellence. The school was renamed NYU Tandon School of Engineering in recognition of the couple’s generosity.

In 2022, NYU announced that the University was committing an ongoing $1 billion investment in Tandon to significantly advance engineering at NYU by recruiting 40 new full-time, tenure-track faculty, fueling groundbreaking research, and growing and modernizing its Downtown Brooklyn campus. The funding will support basic and applied research in key interdisciplinary areas of global import — secure wireless ecosystems and supply chains, health engineering, sustainable engineering, and data science to improve the human condition – and enable expansion of new collaborative lab and research spaces as well as spaces to accommodate student community-building and large growth in experiential learning opportunities.

7 Areas of Research Excellence

Areas of Excellence arranged in a venn diagram with NYU Tandon in the center


Here at Tandon, our researchers and students work at the bleeding edge of technology — technology that powers cities, enables worldwide communication, fights climate change, and creates new and safer digital worlds. We’re building new devices that will revolutionize healthcare, algorithms to help us communicate across the planet, and making more sophisticated & accountable AI systems that bring efficiency and equity to our lives.

We’re doing so by focusing on fields in vital research areas and the intersections between them. That focus allows us to build upon our rich history, chart a path to a better future for the entire planet, and prove you can be born anywhere, but made right here in Brooklyn.

Explore our work, and see how our Unconventional Engineers are plotting the path to a better, more sustainable, more equitable world.


Our Areas of Excellence

students holding certificates with professor

NYU Tandon by the Numbers

We’ve come a long way since 1854. 

Get a quick snapshot of NYU Tandon today.

Fast Facts

Tandon’s Impact Through Time

What do microwaves, penicillin, light beer, and 5G all have in common? 

The discoveries that led to these life essentials were made by faculty, students, and alumni from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Ernst Weber arrived at the school in 1930 and worked his way up from a visiting professor to president of the University — producing research fundamental to the development of radar systems and the microwave oven. Alums Jasper H. Kane and John McKeen developed the mass-production processes for penicillin and other antibiotics, creating one of the most important weapons in the fight against illness across the globe. Joseph Owades, another alum and a biochemist known as the “Godfather of the Brewing Industry,” spent a career developing and researching beers worldwide, and created the recipe for one of the first reduced-calorie beers. Wireless pioneers Theodore “Ted” Rappaport and Thomas Marzetta discovered the fundamental technologies underpinning the 5G era, and continue to chart the path for next-generation wireless here at Tandon. 

These are only a few of the stories of how our students, faculty and researchers have left their mark on the world around us. Join us throughout 2024 to get more in-depth stories about the ways the Tandon community has influenced — and continues to influence — how we live, work, and play today.