A visitor to Akron has some inkling of the role rubber and the tire industry have played in the city. Stay a few days, and the impression is reinforced. Live and work here, and the many connections to our lives reveal themselves. Few institutions reflect the legacy more fully than the College of Engineering at the University of Akron, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last week in appropriately festive fashion.
A clear test of an institution is how well it adapts, carrying forward strengths and yet reinventing itself to thrive in altered circumstances. For Akron, the economic change has been wrenching, and still proceeds. One important player in the success the city and surrounding areas have had is UA engineering.
A distinctive link to the past is the use of co-ops, engineering students spending time in real companies, doing real work. That helps to create an essential network, the many players in an industry part of a single conversation. If the co-ops have adapted, so has the college as a whole. Take the invention of the program in corrosion engineering, its first graduates arriving next year. The program is all about innovation.
Plus attracting talent, the indispensable element. Too much can be made of engineering. The humanities matter hugely, too. Yet the College of Engineering, led the past decade by George Haritos, has been a crucial component to the city moving forward. Hard to imagine Akron getting ahead in this new century without it.