World War II’s aftermath and the advent of the Space Race greatly influence the balance between science and engineering in technical education. Theoretical science is now favored, as, according to a report from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Institute aims its education “to the superior youth who is intellectually versatile and who has the basic knowledge which will endure over the years as new technologies replace old ones.” This department dismantles its wood shop and foundry in this period and establishes laboratories for kinematics, vibrations and stress analysis, and gas dynamics.
Funding for Northwestern’s Materials Research Center comes from the Department of Defense in 1960. This necessitates an addition to the Institute building. Two new wings east of the original building are completed in 1962, one for the Center, the other occupied by biomedical engineering and other laboratories. The addition increases the Institute’s physical plant by about thirty percent.
The scope and ambitions of the Technological Institute broaden in this decade. The Department of Industrial Engineering awards its first PhD in 1961; in 1963 it changes its name to “industrial engineering and management sciences” and declares interdisciplinary interest in mathematics, economics and the social sciences, and other engineering specialties.