For 75 years, New England Institute of Technology has prepared its graduates for a wide range of technical careers. Founded in 1940 by Ernest G. Earle as the New England Technical Institute, the present college began as a certificate-granting trade school. The school occupied three rented rooms on the sixth floor of an office building in downtown Providence with its first graduating class of 20 students completing a radio repair course.
Mr. Earle provided students with hands-on training leading to jobs that were a cut above traditional factory positions. When soldiers returned from World War II, the trade school had already invested in a lab offering courses in plastics, an infant industry that was about to boom. Later, electronics, appliance and small engine repair programs were added. By the late1960s, baby-boomers entered the workforce by the millions. College degrees were now considered a necessity. In 1966, the school was established as an independent college.
In 1971, current President Richard Gouse, who is noted as America’s second longest serving college president, envisioned a degree-granting institution that would meet industry’s need for technically-trained workers. He knew the school needed to change direction so he quickly developed new programs and invested in equipment. His vision continues today as the college carries on its mission of training its students for today’s highly competitive job market.
In 1977, the Board of Regents of the State of Rhode Island granted the institution the authority to offer associate degrees, and its name was changed to New England Institute of Technology (NEIT). In 1982, NEIT was accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. The College received accreditation to confer bachelor degrees in 1995. NEIT enrolled students for its first master’s degree program in 2010–a Master of Science degree program in Occupational Therapy. In 2012, the college created an Online Learning division to build more programs. The fully-online RN to BSN (Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program was launched that same year.
Today, the college enrolls nearly 3,000 students which has grown substantially from the 70 students in 1971. NEIT now offers more than 57 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and on-line degree programs. The campus that started in a mill building in Providence now encompasses three locations: two in Warwick and one in East Greenwich totaling more than 500,000 square feet. A $120 million expansion project at its East Greenwich campus will include 300,000 square feet of academic space and its first 400-bed residence hall. A new dining area, fitness center, and college green will round out the expansion.
NEIT’s first graduation ceremony lasted less than 15 minutes. Now each spring, more than 5,000 guests attend NEITs commencement honoring the more than 1,000 men and women who have earned their degrees.
These dynamic changes to its program offerings and physical plant symbolize NEIT’s journey into the 21st century and its response to what new technologies have brought to the workplace. The needs of tomorrow’s students demand access to those technological resources to reach their full potential. As it has been since those early years, the success of New England Tech will continue to be measured by its graduates’ accomplishments in the world they are entering both as workers and citizens.