Fifty years ago this September, Anton Brasunas opened Missouri S&T’s Engineering Education Center, known then as the Graduate Engineering Center, with nothing but a borrowed desk in an office above a drug store across the street from the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus.
Today the self-supporting center has grown from its humble beginnings — offering two master’s degree programs to the 84 students enrolled — to graduating more than 2,700 master’s and Ph.D. students over the past 50 years.
Enrollment hasn’t been the only change. For the program’s first four years, instructors taught courses in makeshift classrooms scattered across the city — even at a local junior high school — before space became available on the UMSL campus. But in 2013, the center moved into offices designed to support the program’s modern distance learning approach.
“Almost all our courses are now conducted online,” says center director Victor Birman, professor of mechanical engineering. “We have three distance classrooms built to teach and deliver HD-video courses by the Internet. Local students in St. Louis can attend live lectures at the EEC or participate in the class from work or home similar to other distance students. We have students all over the world taking classes delivered via the Internet from the EEC.”