1880s

Between 1880–1890, Melbourne was booming. Coined “Marvellous Melbourne”, in 1880 the population reached 280,000 and in 1890 the population reached 490,000. For a time, Melbourne was the second-largest city in the British Empire and in 1880 the Royal Exhibition Building was built, a grand and illustrious building that signified Melbourne’s position as a major world city. By 1882, engineers had illuminated Spencer St Station, a mighty feat, and this was also a time where a rapid inflation of land prices resulted in a Land Boom. The government was putting a lot of money into urban infrastructure, particularly railways, and by popular demand and petitioning, in 1883 the Certificate of Engineer was replaced by a Bachelor of Civil Engineering, however as with the LLB, the first three years were devoted to an Arts Degree. Around this same time, five new chairs including an Engineering Chair were created at the University and Professor Kernot took the role as the Chair of Engineering.

Professor Kernot spent approximately 11.5 hours in face-to-face teaching in 1883, and by this time mathematical and scientific subjects icreased: students studied Pure Mathematics I & II and Mixed (Applied) Mathematics I. In second year, all students attended a Surveying Camp during the long break, and third year was devoted to Surveying, Mechanical Drawing, Applied Mechanics and Civil Engineering. Fourth year passes required passes in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and students could specialize in hydraulics, mining and metallurgy or architecture.

By 1887 The University Council approved the creation of a Faculty of Engineering and changes to the Bachelor of Civil Engineering (BCE). The new BCE required the completion of only the first two years of Arts, which meant the classics were no longer compulsory, and the mathematic and scientific elements increased. The adjunct year of professional experience was retained. By December 1888 the Faculty of Engineering was almost established, though it took another four years for Kernot to secure all the lecturers he desired.

In 1889, Kernot established the Melbourne University Engineering Society (MUES), a society open to graduates and students. Students often used this as a vehicle to promote inter-faculty sporting competitions, and this period also saw the creation of The Varsity Engineer, a short-lived magazine of the MUES. Extra teaching space was made available on the ground floor of the North extension of the Quadrangle Building, and the original engineering room was converted into a workshop with a two horse-power gas engine to drive the lathe and other equipment including a dynamo-electric machine. This included a private office for Kernot, and part of Wilson Hall was used for a drawing office.

Trinity Study, Courtesy of Trinity College Archives, The University of Melbourne
The University of Melbourne, Courtesy of University of Melbourne Archives