On January 3, 1950, in response to a direct plea from local industrial leaders, WPI welcomed 29 students to Stratton Hall as the first cohort in the School of Industrial Management (SIM). Representing 22 Worcester companies, each was nominated by his respective employer as worthy of further management responsibilities and training.
As area businesses transformed in the years following World War II, industry leaders realized that increasing specialization of job roles necessitated a more robust training program than individual companies could offer. These industrialists utilized their long-standing positive relationship with WPI faculty and administrators to form a committee to study management programs at other institutions and explore how WPI’s existing resources could support this initiative. Committee leaders included Wallace Montague, Class of 1912, vice president and manager of planning for Norton Company; Philip Morgan, president of Morgan Construction Company; and Robert Stoddard, vice president and general manager of Wyman-Gordon Company. WPI faculty members serving on the committee included Albert Schwieger, Ernest Phelps, and Edwin Higginbottom.
Included in that cohort of 29 were six familiar faces. Returning to the Hill were Robert Maynard ’36, John Poeton ’37, John Quinn ’41, Howard Aubertin ’43, Alfred Larkin ’44, and Alfred Green ’45. The initial SIM curriculum was designed as
a four-year program with eight one-semester courses, including Effective Speech, Human Relations, Economics of the Firm, Report and Policy Writing, and Production Management.
In the spirit of the founders’ ideology of theory and practice, the early courses were designed to offer opportunities to exchange experiences and test real-world scenarios.
In the 70 years since those first students accepted the challenge of WPI’s newest program, hundreds of students have earned undergraduate and graduate degrees while the regional economy continues to benefit from the school’s original purpose: preparing WPI students for the ever-changing demands of industry.
Arthur Carlson, assistant director of Archives & Special Collections at the George C. Gordon Library