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Sibley Hall before the east section and domed center section of the complex were added
M E C H A N I C A L A N D A E R O S P A C E E N G I N E E R I N G 203John Edson Sweet served six years as a professor of the mechanic arts, master mechanic, and director of the university’s machine shops before retiring to build steam engines in Syracuse.Sibley College’s steam enginesRobert H. Thurston, seen in this bas-relief in his namesake hall, served on a steam-powered gunboat during the Civil War and taught at two other institutions before set-tling at Cornell in 1885.tion. Upton guided the development of aircraft engines when he served, during World War I, on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and consulted for the Curtiss Airplane Company in Hammondsport, New York. Upton was the founding di-rector (1936) of the university’s Department of Automotive and Aeronautic Engineering.Another student of Thurston’s, S. C. Thomas Sze, now has his name on the direc-torship of the school. Sze was one of Cornell’s first Chinese students and a 1905 graduate
20 4 M E C H A N I C A L A N D A E R O S P A C E E N G I N E E R I N Gof mechanical engineering, who worked his way up from locomotive superintendent of the Peking Mukden Railway to become a major force in the building of China’s national railroad system. He also was director of China’s Northwest Highway Administration, both the Cha-Pei Electric and the Shanghai Power Companies, three banking corpora-tions, and several shipping companies.The Transition to Internal CombustionSteam power attracted William Nicholas Barnard (1875–1947) to Cornell, where he studied thermodynamics with Thurston and steam engine design with Barr. Barnard taught steam engineering, from 1903 to 1915, when his professorial title changed to heat and power engineering. The lighter, more versatile internal combustion engines were proliferating at Cornell when Barnard was named director of the U.S. Army School of Military Aeronautics, the ground school for flight cadets in Barton Hall. He was the co-author, with C. F. Hirshfeld, of the 1926 text, Heat-Power Engineering, and of sub-sequent volumes that were published in 1933.In 1909, two years before Cornell’s first formal course in aerial engineering—and decades be-fore student-project teams and their machines competed against other institutions—some 80 students formed the Cornell Aero Club to de-sign and build gliders, fly the engineless craft, and “promote the investigation and study, from a theoretical and practical standpoint, of the science of aeronautics.” After testing a series of biplane and monoplane gliders from the high and relatively treeless Kite Hill, Cornell engineers flew in intercollegiate competition against student aviators from Harvard, Tufts, and Dartmouth.