Facts & History

Caltech Mission

The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.

Historical Sketch

Founded: 1891

The California Institute of Technology developed from a local school of arts and crafts founded in Pasadena in 1891 by the Honorable Amos G. Throop, wealthy abolitionist and former Chicago politician. Initially named Throop University, it was later renamed Throop Polytechnic Institute, and ultimately the California Institute of Technology in 1920.

At the turn of the 20th century, George Ellery Hale, astronomer and first director of the Mount Wilson Observatory, foresaw the development in Pasadena of a distinguished institution of engineering and scientific research. Hale knew that modern, well-equipped laboratories were essential to such an institution's development, but he stressed to his fellow trustees that the focus was on people, not machines. "We must not forget," he wrote in 1907, "that the greatest engineer is not the [person] who is trained merely to understand machines and apply formulas, but is the [person] who, while knowing these things, has not failed to develop [her] breadth of view and the highest qualities of [her] imagination. No creative work, whether in engineering or in art, in literature or in science, has been the work of a [person] devoid of the imaginative faculty."

The Throop Polytechnic Institute trustees decided in 1907 to discontinue the elementary school, the business school, the teacher-training program, and the high school, leaving only a college of science and technology that conferred Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering.

This institution was the modest beginning of a university that stands today at the pinnacle of world academics and research, with 326 full time faculty (79 in EAS), 993 undergraduates (445 in EAS), 1,432 graduates (453 in EAS), and 37 recipients of the Nobel Prize. Caltech's small size - but enormous impact - distinguishes the university as a jewel of the world's teaching and research institutions.

In the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, our community of scholars, thinkers, and doers provides a home to the most promising students and post-doctoral scholars, each of whom has access to world-renowned educational resources, as well as unparalleled opportunities for both basic and applied research. Our remarkable faculty form an interconnected web of researchers creating the frontiers of modern science and engineering. Close ties with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) further enhance the Division as a leader in engineering education.

Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science

Harry Atwater
Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science;
Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science;
Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance


Academic Programs

Faculty & Research

Professorial and Research Faculty

Other Teaching Faculty

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Postdoctoral Scholars: 99


  • Women: 26.5%
  • Underrepresented minorities: 2.6%
  • Of the 69 faculty hired over the last 20+ years, 27% have been women and 5% have been underrepresented minorities


Undergraduate Enrollment (2021-2022)

445 Undergraduate Students

By Gender (all degrees)

  • Women: 58
  • Men: 83

Graduate Enrollment (2021-2022)

454 Graduate Students

By Gender (all degrees)

  • Women: 42
  • Men: 95


  • Over 13,000 affiliated graduates

EAS Faculty Honors & Awards

EAS faculty and alumni have received wide recognition for their achievements in science and engineering.

National Medal of Science Recipients (6)

George W. Housner (1988), Theodore von Karman (1962), Hans Liepmann (1986), William H. Pickering (1975), John Pierce (1963), Amnon Yariv (2010)

National Medal of Technology Recipients (2)

Hans W. Liepmann (1993), Carver A. Mead (2002)

National Academy of Engineering Members (37)

Allan J. Acosta (1995), Harry A. Atwater, Jr. (2015), John F. Brady (1999), William B. Bridges (1977), Norman H. Brooks (1973), Mani K. Chandy (1995), Donald E. Coles (1984), Paul E. Dimotakis (2016), Charles Elachi (1989), Thomas E. Everhart (1978), Richard C. Flagan (2010), Morteza (Mory) Gharib (2015), Roy W. Gould (1971), Robert H. Grubbs (2015), Michael R. Hoffmann (2011), Hans G. Hornung (1997), Wilfred D. Iwan (1999), Paul C. Jennings (1977), William L. Johnson (1999), Wolfgang G. Knauss (1998), Anthony Leonard (2010), Frank E. Marble (1974), Robert J. McEliece (1998), Carver A. Mead (1984), James J. Morgan (1978), Richard M. Murray (2013), Michael Ortiz (2013), Fredric Raichlen (1993), Guruswami Ravichandran (2015), Ares J. Rosakis (2011), Anatol Roshko (1978), John H. Seinfeld (1982), Yu-Chong Tai (2021), P. P. Vaidyanathan (2019), Lihong Wang (2018), Theodore Y.-T. Wu (1982), Amnon Yariv (1976)

National Academy of Sciences Members (15)

John F. Brady (2020), William B. Bridges (1981), Norman H. Brooks (1981), James P. Eisenstein (2005), William A. Goddard (1984), Roy W. Gould (1974), William L. Johnson (2007), Frank E. Marble (1989), Carver A. Mead (1989), John Preskill (2014), Ares J. Rosakis (2016), Anatol Roshko (2002), John H. Seinfeld (2013), Paul O. Wennberg (2017), Amnon Yariv (1991)

American Academy of Arts and Science Fellows (21)

John Brady, William B. Bridges, Francis H. Clauser, Michael Dickinson, Michael Elowitz, Thomas E. Everhart, Katherine Faber, Morteza Gharib, William A. Goddard, Roy W. Gould, Yizhao T. Hou, Paul C. Jennings, Jerrold E. Marsden, Carver A. Mead, Michael Ortiz, Rob Phillips, Ares J. Rosakis, Anatol Roshko, John H. Seinfeld, Gerald B. Whitham, Amnon Yariv

New Buildings and Renovations

Gates-Thomas Gates-Thomas

Charles C. Gates Jr.–Franklin Thomas Laboratory

June 2015
AC Martin Architects

Jorgensen Jorgensen

Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory

October 2012
John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects

  • 2013 Sustainable Innovation Award at US Green Building Council (USGBC)
  • 2013 American Architecture Award by the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design, and Urban Studies.
  • 2013 Westside Urban Forum Award, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2013 Los Angeles Business Council, Los Angeles Architectural Awards, Award of Excellence
  • 2012 American Institute of Architects Pasadena & Foothill, Honor Award
Annenberg Annenberg

Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology

October 2009
Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects

  • 2011 Project of the Year, Sustainable Innovation Awards
  • U.S. Green Building Council, Los Angeles Chapter
  • 2011 Honor Award – Indoor Air Quality, Sustainable Innovation Awards
  • U.S. Green Building Council, Los Angeles Chapter
  • 2011 Design Merit Award
  • Westside Urban Forum
  • 2009 Honor Award
  • Southern California Development Forum
  • 2009 Design Honor Award
  • American Institute of Architects, Pasadena-Foothill Chapter
Guggenheim Guggenheim

Daniel E. Guggenheim Aerospace Laboratory

John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects

  • 2011 American Institute of Architects California Council, Merit Award
  • 2011 Westside Urban Forum, Design Citation Award
  • 2010 Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), Design Award
  • 2010 Los Angeles Business Council, Los Angeles Architectural Awards, Award of Excellence
  • 2009 Architect Annual Design Review, Citation Award
  • 2009 Architectural Record, Record Interiors Award
  • 2009 Real Estate & Construction Review, Building of America Award
  • 2009 American Institute of Architects Pasadena & Foothill, Merit Award
  • 2008 3form People’s Choice Best Installation Award, Best Ceiling
  • 2007 American Institute of Architects Los Angeles, Next LA Merit Award