Stephen van Rensselaer (1764-1839), Amos Eaton (1776-1842) In today's world, all engineers come from colleges and universities that offer bachelor's degrees in engineering. In almost all cases in the United States, these degree programs have been accredited by ABET, also known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. If someone wishes to become a professional engineer then ABET accreditation is required. There are thousands of engineering degree programs in the US offered by hundreds of institutions. But in 1823 there were none. The first school specifically designed to train engineers was Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute located in Troy, NY. When the university opened, enrollment was tiny (only ten students in 1825). The first degrees, all in civil engineering, were granted in 1835. Even in 1850 the enrollment was only on the order of fifty students. But the school's civil engineering graduates were quite influential. For example, Theodore Judah, one of RPI's first graduates, served as the chief engineer for several railroads and was an important contributor on the transcontinental railroad Why was the first engineering school in the United States located in Troy, NY? There are several reasons, but one important factor was Troy's prominence as an early industrial center for the nation. In a way, Troy could be thought of as the Silicon Valley of its day. Located on the Hudson River, Troy served as an important transportation hub. When the Erie Canal connected into the Hudson River near Troy in 1825, the location's importance skyrocketed. Because of the steep cliffs along the Hudson River in the area and the many streams flowing over them, Troy and surrounding towns were great places to build water-powered factories. Troy was also an important center for steel production. All of this industrial activity and prosperity made Troy a good place to locate an engineering school. Technology-minded people, innovation-minded people, and industrial-minded people were attracted to Troy. Today, engineering schools in the US graduate 80,000 to 90,000 new engineers each year.