Clarence Cory: Electrifying the West

Berkeley Engineering 150

Clarence CoryWhen Clarence Cory became the university’s first professor of mining and electrical engineering in 1892, the electric industry was barely a decade old. After first working with a team to supply light and power for the entire campus, Cory set out to develop technology that would support California’s growing need for electricity, which was largely dependent on hydroelectric plants located remotely in the Sierra Nevada. Recognizing the value of electricity to industry as well as the public, he pursued research that substantially improved the efficiency and range of long-distance power transmission lines that brought electricity to coastal cities.

In addition to his pioneering research, Cory was known for his visionary approach to engineering education. As a teacher and administrator, he shaped the engineering curriculum to emphasize mathematics, physics and mechanics, and stressed the importance of strong relationships among students and faculty — all of which remain fundamental to Berkeley Engineering today.

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