Professor Ken Hunt was the first academic staff member and Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. He had many visions for the Faculty and high hopes for the contributions it would make to education, research and society. One of these visions was for a Faculty grouped not by individual departments, but by various engineering specialisations – clusters of research and teaching grouped by area of focus.
In 1962 four Chairs in Engineering were advertised to further strengthen and build the young Faculty. It was while these chairs were being advertised and appointments were being made that Hunt’s plans for the Faculty were forced to shift. Doug Lampard, who had been offered the Chair of Electrical Engineering was insistent that he head a stand alone Department. Eager to draw together the best staff for the Faculty, Hunt agreed to alter his plans. The Faculty would have departments and the four Foundation Professors, as well as Hunt would each head their own.
By the beginning of 1964 the Faculty of Engineering had five departments: Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and the smaller Applied Mechanics, headed by Hunt himself. In 1967 Applied Mechanics became part of Mechanical Engineering. Then in 1970, the Department of Materials Engineering was created with Professor Ian Polmear as its Head.
50 years later, Engineering at Monash University has grown significantly since those first early years. In 2011 there are still five departments within the Faculty of Engineering - Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Materials Engineering and Chemical Engineering. The structure and focus of each the departments has adapted and changed over the years to adjust to changing demands in technology, research and industry.
Changes in higher education in Australia have also had a major impact on the departments in the Faculty of Engineering. The amalgamations and mergers of the late 1980s and early 1990s saw Monash expand to cover campuses at Caulfield and Gippsland. New departments became part of the Faculty of Engineering as a result. Growth and expansion continued into the 1990s and 2000s with a new emphasis on a globalised Monash. As a result the Faculty of Engineering has developed an important international presence.
It is in the history of these departments and periods of expansion and development that much of the unique and highly identifiable character of the Faculty of Engineering can be found.