Scientific and Technical Education in America Before Lehigh
Most scientists and engineers in the early United States were not formerly trained. They gained their technical skills on the job or taught themselves. During the early nineteenth century, as the need for technical and specialized education grew, mechanics’ institutes sprung up across the country. These were voluntary organizations in which members paid a fee to attend lectures and make use of a group library. Eventually, more colleges began to offer scientific courses of study, making mechanics’ institutes less necessary. Three of the earliest colleges to do so were the United States Military Academy (founded in 1802), Norwich University (founded in 1819), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (founded in 1824).