The University of Nebraska first offered civil engineering courses in 1877 within the Industrial College in Lincoln. In 1898 the Mechanical Arts Building (later Stout Hall) was built to house Engineering Mechanics, Civil Engineering and the Math Department. In 1909, state legislation reorganized the old Industrial College into two offshoots:
- The College of Engineering
- The College of Agriculture
The engineering college then had 400 students and, by 1911, its first real home in Mechanical Arts Hall. In 1918 at East Campus, the Agricultural Engineering Building was built. Renamed L. W. Chase Hall after the first head of Ag Engineering, the building now houses the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, which includes Agricultural Engineering.
Around 1950, Electrical Engineering moved into the newly built Ferguson Hall. Mechanical Arts Hall was renamed Stout Hall, named for Oscar Van Pelt Stout, who led the college during World War I. This facility contained laboratories, classrooms, offices and an engineering library, and was used until 1974.
A chemical engineering wing was added to Avery Hall and in 1958, Chemical Engineering became a department.
Enrollment grew and technologies advanced, necessitating more (and updated) engineering facilities. The purchase of Nebraska Hall in 1958 from the Elgin Watch Factory gave the university an additional 440,000 square feet; however, it was not until early 1971 that engineering moved into the west half of the building. Nebraska Hall houses the departments of:
- The Durham School: Construction Engineering and Construction Management
- Civil Engineering
- Industrial and Management Systems Engineering
- Mechanical & Materials Engineering
Scott Engineering Center
- Engineering Library
Scott Engineering Center (SEC), dedicated in 1972, holds laboratories, research centers and engineering shops. Later, a link was added between SEC and Nebraska Hall; this house the Electrical Engineering Department.
Computer Science and Engineering resides in Avery Hall and, in 2008, new computing, classroom and office spaces opened in the Schorr Center: a specially renovated facility located in Nebraska's famous Memorial Stadium.
The College of Engineering encompassed architecture until that program became a separate college in 1974. In the early 1970s, the University of Nebraska became a system of universities including UNL and a municipal university in Omaha. A merger with Omaha's College of Engineering and Technology formed the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Engineering. Academic departments in Omaha now include:
- Architectural Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Construction Systems
- Computer and Electronics Engineering
Peter Kiewit Institute
In 1995, The Peter Kiewit Institute for Information Science, Technology, and Engineering took shape in Omaha to better meet the changing needs of students and local industry. The Institute brings together the UNL College of Engineering, the University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Information Science and Technology, and local industry. Its goal is to merge the cultures of higher education and business to create an ideal learning environment for Nebraska's information science professionals for the next century. The Peter Kiewit Institute opened in 1999 with each college occupying a wing; the Institute is located at 67th and Pacific streets in Omaha, on land owned by UNO.
In 2003, Donald F. Othmer Hall, adjacent to Scott Engineering Center, became the home of the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Dean's Office suite. The $24 million building features the latest in research laboratory design, including a bio-process manufacturing facility, the first of its kind in any American university; a state-of-the-art computer control system for laboratories; and next-generation distance education technology. Funding came from the estate of Mildred Topp Othmer, a 1928 UNL graduate who was the widow of Donald F. Othmer, noted chemical engineer and professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York in Brooklyn. Donald earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at UNL in 1924 and later accumulated 150 patents in a variety of fields. In 1947, he and Raymond Kirk, a Polytechnic colleague, published the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. The 27-volume collection is a mainstay in virtually every university, research facility and company that uses chemical processes.