Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) was a university based in the centre of the city of Manchester in England. It specialised in technical and scientific subjects and was a major centre for research. On October 1 2004, it merged with the Victoria University of Manchester to form the University of Manchester, the largest conventional university in the United Kingdom.
The Mechanics' Institute (1824-1882)
The foundation of UMIST can be traced to 1824 during the Industrial revolution when a group of Manchester businessmen and industrialists met in a pub, the Bridgewater Arms, to establish the Mechanics' Institute in Manchester, where artisans could learn basic science, particularly mechanics and chemistry. Hundreds of such institutions were founded in towns and cities throughout the country and while many of the fine Victorian buildings built to house them remain, Manchester's alone survived as an independent institution serving some of its original educational aims throughout the 20th century
- John Dalton who became known as the father of atomic theory. He became the Vice President of the Institute in 1840.
- Robert Hyde Greg a cotton mill owner who was soon to be elected a Member of Parliament.
- Peter Ewart a millwright and engineer.
- Richard Roberts a machine tools inventor.
- David Bellhouse a builder.
- William Henry a pioneered scientific chemical industry, discoverd Henry's law of solubility of gas in water.
- William Fairbairn a Scottish engineer associated with water wheels and the Britannia tubular bridge but above all with a scientific approach to engineering. He was elected first Secretary of the Mechanics' Institute.
- Sir Benjamin Heywood, a prosperous banker, acted as President of the Mechanics' Institute for the period 1824-1841.
- Oliver Heywood (Sir Benjamin's son) - also became President of the Mechanics' Institute and was the first Freeman of the City of Manchester.
The Tech (1883-1917)
In 1883 secretary of the Institution John Henry Reynolds reorganised the Institution as a Technical School using the schemes and examinations of the City and Guilds of London Institute. A new building was begun in 1895 and opened by the Prime Minister Arthur Balfour in October 1902. This is the western end of what is currently known as UMIST's Main Building, pictured above. By this time the institution was called the Manchester Municipal School of Technology or fondly known as The Tech.
As befits its roots in the early chemical industry of the region the Tech had pioneered Chemical Engineering as an academic subject in Britain. Similarly in the 1920s it pioneered academic training in Management, with the formation of a Department of Industrial Administration funded by an endowment from asbestos magnate Samuel Turner. But perhaps a more significant advance was the foundation in 1905 of a Faculty of Technology, answerable academically to its 'younger sister' the Victoria University of Manchester and awarding BSc and MSc degrees, the beginnings of UMIST as a University and the first technology faculty in the country.
Establishment as a university (1918-1993)
In 1918, the institution changed name again to Manchester Municipal College of Technology. By 1949 over 8500 students were enrolled, however most still studying non-degree courses. The appointment of B.V. Bowden (later Lord Bowden of Chesterfield) in 1953 marked the beginning of a phase of expansion. During 1955 and 1956 the Manchester College of Science and Technology achieved independent university status under its own Royal Charter and became separately funded from the University Grants Committee .
By 1966 all non-degree courses were moved to the Manchester Polytechnic which is now known as Manchester Metropolitan University, and in 1966 the name finally changed to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. UMIST and the Victoria University of Manchester retained close ties for the second half of the 20th Century, with UMIST students being awarded, or having the choice of, a University of Manchester degree until full autonomy in 1993.
Achievements and evolution
During the last quarter of the 20th century UMIST established a reputation as a major research-based university, performing well in the government's Research Assessment Exercise in 2001, and was well placed in various league tables. UMIST has won four Queen's Prizes for Higher and Further Education, two Prince of Wales' Awards for Innovation and two Queen's Award for Export Achievement.
UMIST was instrumental in the founding of what is now the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Famous alumni include Nobel Laureate in nuclear physics Sir John Cockcroft, aeroplane pioneer Sir Arthur Whitten Brown, and designer of the Lancaster bomber Roy Chadwick. While famous lecturers include mathematicians Louis Joel Mordell and Lewis Fry Richardson.
UMIST, together with the Victoria University of Manchester ceased to exist on 1 October 2004, when they were combined in a new single University of Manchester hoping to combine the strengths and traditions of both.
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