Originally founded as The School of Automotive Trades by Albert Sobey under the direction of the Industrial Fellowship of Flint on October 20, 1919, Kettering University has a long legacy with the automotive industry. The university became known as the Flint Institute of Technology in 1923 before being acquired by General Motors in 1926, becoming the General Motors Institute of Technology and eventually the General Motors Institute in 1932.
Sometimes referred to as the “West Point of industry, ” GMI focused on creating business and industry leaders through the unique co-op model (following the development of this program at the University of Cincinnati in 1907). GMI also pioneered freshmen level manufacturing courses (Production Processes I & II), and automotive degree specialties. A fifth-year thesis requirement was added in 1945, along with the ability to grant degrees. The first bachelor's degree was awarded on August 23, 1946. The co-op program required applicants to find a GM division to be their sponsor. Work and school were mixed in six-week rotations, dividing the student body into A-section and B-section. At any given time, when A-section was in school, B-section was at work. After six weeks, B-section would go back to school and so on. This resulted in students moving eight times per year and a 48-week school/work year. Because General Motors used the school to train its engineers, tuition was partially subsidized. In June 1979 (the Class of 1984) co-op rotations were expanded to twelve weeks.
Split from GM
After GM reduced operations in Flint, the company and the university separated on July 1, 1982. The name of the institution became "GMI Engineering & Management Institute" and the letters "GMI" were retained to allow easy identification with the old General Motors Institute. The university began charging full tuition as an independent private university. The university kept the cooperative education model, expanding the number of co-op employers for students. The university also began offering graduate programs for both on- and off-campus students.
Name change and expansion of programs
The university’s name was formally changed to Kettering University on January 1, 1998, in honor of Charles Kettering. The name change allowed the university to create a separate identity from General Motors as well as publicize the fact that academic programs were expanding beyond just automotive-related offerings.
The university launched a physics program in 1995, and had the first ABET-accredited applied physics program in the world in 2013. A chemical engineering program as well as a pre-med course of study were launched in 2008. The chemical engineering program received ABET accreditation in 2013. The computer science program received ABET accreditation in 2007. The university added an applied biology program in 2013.
Kettering University offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Applied Biology, Applied Mathematics, Applied Physics, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Business Administration, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics, Industrial Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The university also offers Master's degrees in Business Administration (MBA), Information Technology, Manufacturing Management, Operations Management, Manufacturing Operations, Engineering Management, and Engineering. Some masters programs are offered online, as the school launched distanced education programs in 2015. Most undergraduate programs require completion of 160 credit hours for graduation. Kettering also offers students more than 40 minors, concentrations, specialties, and courses of study. Kettering's degree programs are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Bell Tower at Kettering University
Kettering University ranked 14th nationally among non-Ph.D.-granting engineering universities and fourth nationally among mechanical engineering programs in the 2015 U.S. News and World Report ‘Best Colleges’ edition. The university also received a 'Best in the Midwest' designation from the Princeton Review.
Kettering ranked 12th nationally and first in the Midwest and Michigan in Return on Investment in PayScale.com’s 2015 Return on Investment Rankings.PayScale.com also ranked Kettering 15th nationally and first in Michigan in its 2014 Salary Potential rankings. A 2015 CNN Money article examining the top private colleges in the country in return on investment ranked Kettering 10th, noting that Kettering is sending graduates “out into the world with the skills employers are looking for.”
An article in the 2014 issue of Automobile Magazine listed Kettering University among five universities nationwide that students looking to break into the auto industry should attend. The article noted that Kettering University offers "a unique program that doesn’t merely prepare students to work but puts them to work—three months in school, followed by three months on the job, repeat until graduation."
Kettering University was ranked 137th on Business Insider's 2014 list of 'The 600 Smartest Colleges in America.'
Kettering University faculty have received ten Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grants from the National Science Foundation since 2013, the most MRI grants in Michigan over that period of time. The grants have allowed Kettering to add equipment that includes an X-Ray Diffractometer, an X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) instrument, a motion capture system, a High-Throughput and High-Resolution Three-Dimensional Tissue Scanner with Internet-Connected 3D Virtual Microscope for Large-Scale Automated Histology, and the only 4G LTE Wirless system on a college campus in the country.