From Physics to EE

Origins in a Basement.
Physics building Enlarge
Physics building.

Electrical Engineering at Michigan had some humble beginnings. The department’s first lab was in the old Physics Building’s basement – and it was steam powered! The tools these early students and researchers had at their disposal were few.

In the words of the third Chair of Electrical Engineering, Benjamin F. Bailey:

“The laboratory was established on the basement floor at the east end of the old Physics Building. Power was supplied by a steam engine which drove a countershaft and to this could be belted various electric generators. These consisted of an Edison bi-polar dynamo of 5 kilowatts capacity, a 10 arc Brush dynamo with arc lamps, a 5 horsepower direct current motor and a cradle dynamometer. There was a small photometric room adjacent to the laboratory and a battery room containing a storage battery of 31 cells. A few electrical measuring instruments and accessories were also available.”
-Ben Bailey, in “A Brief History of the Department of Electrical Engineering”