Smith Engineering had its origins as the “School of Mining and Agriculture,” founded in Kingston in 1893 under an Ontario Charter.

The School was affiliated with Queen's University, but was formed independently in order to qualify for provincial government grants. These grants could not be obtained by the University because the government would not subsidize Church-affiliated colleges.

The idea of a school of practical science had been maturing in the minds of Chancellor Sandford Fleming and Principal Grant for some time and many Kingstonians supported the idea. In 1887, John Carruthers provided money for a Science Hall, which was opened in 1891. When the School of Mining was founded two years later, Science Hall became its home. Dr. W.L. Goodwin of Queen's Chemistry Department was appointed Director of the School. A great deal of the credit for the development of the School of Mining must be given to Dr. Goodwin, who constantly pressed for more and better equipment, and for larger and better accommodation. A Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science was created within Queen's College in 1893 with Professor Nathan F. Dupuis as Dean. The Faculty awarded degrees to graduates of the School of Mining. For several years all departments of the School of Mining were housed in Science Hall. As the School grew, provincial government grants were made available to provide new buildings. Ontario Hall was built for Mineralogy, Geology and Physics; and Fleming Hall was constructed for the Departments of Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. A mining laboratory building, or Mill, was added. Gordon Hall was built a few years later for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; and Nicol Hall was provided for Mining and Metallurgy.


Five regular degree students were enrolled for the first session of the School, and a number of others were enrolled in diploma courses. Emphasis was on mining, chemistry and mineralogy, with some instruction being given in other branches of engineering. Beginning in 1896-97, graduates in mining received the degree B.Sc., with provision also for the degree of M.E.(Mining Engineer) on proof that three months had been spent working in a mine. By 1905-06, the degree of Master of Science had appeared. Degrees were awarded by Queen's University, rather than by the School of Mining - further evidence of the close affiliation that existed between the institutions. (It is interesting to note the fee structure in those early days. The fees established for first year were $40, for second year $45, third year $50, and fourth year $55. Registration cost $1, the annual examinations $3, and graduation $20. In 1900 one student reported his total expenditures for first year, including fees, books, lodging and train fare, were less than $200).

In 1912 Queen's College separated from the Church and became Queen's University with a Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. By 1914 there were twenty-nine faculty members and two hundred and forty-six students. Most of the faculty and engineering students interrupted their teaching and studies to join the Canadian Army and served with great distinction in World War I. Amalgamation of the School with the University was accomplished in 1916. The School of Mining became the "Queen's University Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science", with Dr. Goodwin as Dean.

Smith Engineering has grown steadily in size and reputation in the intervening years. Now, almost twenty-seven hundred undergraduate students are enrolled and there are over one hundred and sixty faculty members in the ten engineering programs. Instruction in engineering programs is provided in both modern and historical buildings with extensive teaching and research laboratories and computing facilities.

Since its inception, the Applied Science Faculty and its predecessor, the School of Mines, have graduated over 15,000 engineers, many of whom have had distinguished careers nationally and internationally. Queen's engineering alumni are involved in engineering projects around the world. The Faculty celebrated its centennial in 1993.

Further information about the history and development of the Faculty can be found in Professor Richardson's book Queen's Engineers. All proceeds from the sale of Professor Richardson's book will be directed to financial support of students and student projects.

W. George Richardson - Queen's Engineers: A Century of Applied Science (1893-1993)

On November 2, 2023, the Stephen J.R. Smith Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University began a new era, founded on a vision of engineering education that prepares students to solve the world’s most challenging problems through an innovative combination of problem-based and experiential learning, competency-based assessments, and a multidisciplinary approach.

The Faculty has changed its name in recognition of a transformative gift of $100 million in support of this vision, from Queen’s alumnus Stephen Smith. Sc’72, LLD‘17.

This, the largest gift ever made to a Canadian engineering faculty, will enable Smith Engineering to re-imagine engineering education, preparing the faculty to educate ever-evolving engineers to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.

Building on over 130 years of history as a Canadian and global leader in engineering education, Smith Engineering is home to a diverse community of students, staff and faculty, creating global impact through education and research while fostering the next generation of leaders in engineering and other disciplines.