Georgia Tech Celebrates 125 Years by Looking Forward

Georgia Tech turns 125 years old on Oct. 13 and the Institute is marking the occasion with a yearlong celebration of its heritage.  

125th Anniversary
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Georgia Tech turns 125 years old on Oct. 13, 2010 and the Institute is marking the occasion with a yearlong celebration of its heritage.  

In 1885, Atlanta was positioned as the center of the “New South.” The Georgia Legislature set aside $65,000 to open a technical school. Three years later, the Georgia School of Technology opened its doors, offering one major to about eighty students on four acres of land off North Avenue.

Georgia Tech now offers degrees through six colleges to more than 20,000 students on its 450-acre campus.

This year also marks a handful of other milestones, which will be celebrated throughout the year. It is the fiftieth anniversary of the matriculation of black students to campus. Ralph Long Jr., Lawrence Williams, and Ford Green were the first black students to enroll at Tech in 1961. Tech is also celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Ramblin’ Wreck. Thirty years ago, Georgia Tech founded the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to assist startup technology companies. Georgia Tech-Lorraine, Tech’s first international campus, celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.

Georgia Tech has thrived by reinventing itself over its 125-year history, continuously striving to better serve its students, the State of Georgia, and today’s global community. From a school focused primarily on undergraduate education, Tech has evolved into a university where excellence in research, education and service defines the culture.

To prepare for the next 25 years, the Institute started a strategic planning process last year. Through public town hall meetings and working groups of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, the vision for Georgia Tech in 2035 came to life.

“Designing the Future,” as the plan is called, launched on August 31, 2010. The plan contains five overarching goals:

  • to be among the most highly respected technology-focused learning institutions in the world,
  • to sustain and enhance excellence in scholarship and research,
  • to ensure that innovation, entrepreneurship and public service are fundamental characteristics of our graduates,
  • to expand our global footprint and influence to ensure that we are graduating good global citizens, and
  • to relentlessly pursue institutional effectiveness.

Within the goals are initiatives from the campus community that Tech is already exploring. These ideas include preparing students for global leadership, creating an experimental college where students could customize their degree programs, pursuing globally significant challenges using the campus and region as a test bed for research and application, creating a virtual Georgia Tech campus and becoming the “Innovation Institute.”

Innovation is ingrained in Tech culture, from faculty and staff to students. In fact, in the past year 41 percent of Georgia Tech inventors were students. Just last month, Tech’s Communications & Marketing department launched a student-designed iPhone app. Tech is looking to expand its InVenture Prize, which highlights the best of student innovation every spring.

Another strategy is to enrich the student experience. As part of that, Tech has partnered with the Woodruff Arts Center to offer students a deeply discounted season pass to the High Museum of Art, Alliance Theatre and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the academic year. Additionally, the Student Alumni Association launched in September and already has more than 1,000 student members.

 “Georgia Tech will continue to build upon its strengths as a culture that nurtures innovation and that shares a commitment to excellence that will both challenge our students and enrich their education,” said Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson, introducing the plan to campus. “We can all look forward to our 150th birthday as a celebration of one of the most vital, well-respected and defining institutions for technology and commerce in the world.”

There’s no doubt that Georgia Tech stands out as a distinctively different kind of university, one that is eagerly encouraging and developing the revolutionary technologies of the 21st century. Equipped with the extremely rich resources of an outstanding student body and faculty; strong partnerships with business, industry and government; and support from alumni and friends, Georgia Tech is poised to meet and exceed the challenges of the new millennium.

To read the full “Designing the Future” report, visit

Writer: Mark Delong, Communications & Marketing


The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.