As one of China’s most prestigious collegiate institutions, Peking University has long been renowned for its education in fundamental sciences and the liberal arts. Still, Peking University’s history of engineering studies is equally long and outstanding. Once located at Duan Wang Fu, the College has had a history full of changes and developments that have carried it to its modern state.
The Peking University College of Engineering was first established in 1910. At the time, it was referred to as the Branch of Engineering. It consisted of just two disciplines: civil engineering and mineral engineering.
Dayou Ma, Wei Zhang, Ying Fu, Sicheng Liang, Weichang Qian, Shoue Tu, Zhaoying Meng, Qinghua Du, Buxuan Wang, Hongjia Huang, Xiasheng Gu and Jingde Gao were the 12 academicians invited to be its faculty members. With such a respected faculty, the college set about training its students with the newest technologies to gain the necessary skills to succeed.
In 1952, as a result of government adjustments regarding the division of higher level education, the College of Engineering was dissolved. By this time, over 5000 students had attended the College of Engineering. Many of the graduates had already begun to engage in various areas of work both at home and abroad, several of them making extraordinary contributions in the field of engineering.
Academician Min Yu, winner of the “Two Bombs, One Satellite” merit medal, is one among many valued alumni. Other graduates later appointed as academicians include Tianjue Lei, Guofan Jin, Junwu Chen, Fubang Ma, Weizhen Zhang, Mingshu Tang, Qiang Su, Yongze Mao, Jincai Liang, and Yuzhu Wang.
In the same year, the mechanics discipline of the present-day Department of Mathematics and Mechanics was organized and established at Peking University by the famous scientist, Peiyuan Zhou, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This was China’s first branch of studies in mechanics.
In 1979, the Department of Mechanics was officially established. In 2006, it merged into the new College of Engineering and was renamed the Department of Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering.
While celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1998, Peking University set a new goal to establish itself as a world-class university. Numerous alumni suggested reestablishing the College of Engineering. After two years of discussion and consultation, , it was agreed upon that the College of Engineering would be reestablished.
“In our minds, the reestablishment of the engineering school would not simply be a resumption of its former state. Rather, we wanted to take advantage of Peking University’s strong research and educational facilities in fundamental sciences as a base for a new and advanced College of Engineering,” said Zhihong Xu, academician and former Peking University president.
In June 2005, an announcement was made at Yannan Yuan, the spiritual home of Peking University, declaring the official reestablishment of the College of Engineering.
A glimpse of Yannan Yuan at Peking University