The Institute has completed 150th year of its existence in October 1996. On September 21, 2001, an Ordinance issued by the Government of India declared it as the nation's seventh Indian Institute of Technology. The Ordinance is now converted into an Act by the Parliament to make IIT, Roorkee as an "Institution of National Importance".
The Institute offers Bachelor's Degree courses in 10 disciplines of Engineering and Architecture and Postgraduate's Degree in 55 disciplines of Engineering, Applied Science, Architecture and planning. The Institute has facility for doctoral work in all Departments and Research Centres.
The Institute admits students to B.Tech. and B.Arch. courses through the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted at various centres all over India.
The Roorkee College was established in 1847 AD as the First Engineering College in the British Empire. The College was renamed as The Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1854. It was given the status of University by Act No. IX of 1948 of the United Province (Uttar Pradesh) in recognition of its performance and its potential and keeping in view the needs of post-independent India. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, presented the Charter in November 1949 elevating the erstwhile college to the First Engineering University of Independent India.
Since its establishment, the University of Roorkee has played a vital role in providing the technical manpower and know-how to the country and in pursuit of research. The University ranked amongst the best technological institutions in the world and has contributed to all sectors of technological development. It has also been considered a trend-setter in the area of education and research in the field of science, technology, and engineering. The University entered 150th year of its existence in one or other form in October 1996.
On the 21st September 2001, the University was declared an institute of national importance, by passing a bill in the parliament, changing its status from University of Roorkee to Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Thus another jewel was added into the already glittering crown in the History of this Institute.
Bachelor's Degree courses are offered in 10 disciplines in Engineering and Architecture; 55 Postgraduate Degree courses are offered in Engineering, Applied Science and Architecture and planning. The Institute has facility for doctoral work in all Departments and Research Centers.
The IIT admits students to B.Tech. and B.Arch. courses through the IIT-JEE. conducted at various centers all over India.
The Institute has an illustrious history and a glorious past. The Thomason College, the oldest engineering college in India, owes its birth to the waters of Mother Ganges. With¬out the River Ganges there would have been no canal of that name, and, without the canal, no college at Roorkee. The Ganges Canal soon reached maturity, but its offspring, the Thomason College, planned by men of wisdom and foresight, grew steadily from the smallest beginnings till it attained the proud position which it now holds as one of the leading educa¬tional institutions of the East with great traditions and a reputation second to none.
The establishment of an Engineering college at Roorkee was suggested to the Honourable James Thomason, Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces, about 1846, by Colonel Cautley of the Royal Artillery, who had been Superinten¬dent-General of Canals since 1836 and was busily engaged in the scheme, first contemplated by Colonel Colvin of the Bengal Engineers, for the employment of the waters of the Ganges for irrigation. While there is no doubt that the immediate require¬ments of the Ganges Canal in engineer officers and subor¬dinates were chiefly responsible for the foundation of the Thomason College, it is probable that broader issues also influenced the minds of Mr. Thomason and his advisers and that an important point was the necessity for some systematic training for Civil Engineers in India, or at least in Northern India. The Western Jumna Canals were commenced in 1817 and the Eastern Jumna Canal in 1822. In 1847 the annual expenditure on establishment for these under¬takings was Rs.1,04,000 and on annual repairs- Rs.35,000. In Dehra Dun, Rohilkhand and near Delhi, works for drainage and irrigation were maintained requiring skilful superintendence. The roads from Jubbulpur to Mirzapur, the grand trunk roads from Calcutta to Delhi and from Agra to Bombay and the Land Revenue Settlement Survey had been completed. It was apparent that there existed a large demand for skill in every branch of Civil Engineering. To meet this demand there were officers of the Army, European non-commissioned officers and soldiers and Indians. To make these men efficient agents, the well-educated Europeans, lately arrived in the country, required instruction in Indian languages and in the peculiarities of materials and construction in India, The European soldiers required scientific instruction and the Indians, from their local experience and ability to bear exposure to the climate were likely to prove efficient instruments if they were well taught and inspired with a proper sense of responsibility.
As early as the year 1845, Lieutenant Baird Smith of the Bengal Engineers, then Superintendent of the Eastern Jumna Canal, began training young Indians at Saharanpur in Civil Engineering for the grade of Sub-Assistant Executive Engineer and in 1846 twenty candidates were admitted to this class. In 1847, after the First Punjab War, Lord Hardinge, the Governor-General, determined on the vigorous prosecution of the Ganges Canal scheme. This undertaking, especially in the first few miles of its course, was beset with great engineer¬ing difficulties. Evidently it would tax to the utmost the skill industry and resources of the people and country. The science that was necessary to construct a work of this magni¬tude would also be kept constantly in exercise for its main¬tenance, improvement and extension. Immediate measures were necessary to provide a constant supply of well-trained and experienced Engineers. Out of this emergency, the Roorkee College arose, later to be known as the Thomason College. The circumstances which caused the selection of Roorkee as the site for the College were thus stated in the proposal made to the Governor-General on September 23, 1847
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