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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/450

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446
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

shall be men sought by students from everywhere, for sake even of the one man.

The feeling of democracy is cultivated; and every discouragement possible is thrown in the way of dividing into high and low castes, upper and lower strata, cliques or classes.

The tuition fee is nominal. The directors wish it understood that while the school gives courses in engineering and the trades which are on an equal footing with other institutions, yet it is not the aim to turn out skilled or practised engineers or mechanics. What is claimed is that the institution can turn out those who are capable of becoming better engineers and mechanics than those who have lesser opportunities, or training not so good. That which only can develop the mature engineer or mechanic is future practical experience.

Another aim of the institution, already very effective, is the finding of employment to aid indigent students in working their way through. It is not claimed that employment is provided for every student who now applies for it; but that much is being done, and much more will be done in the future. During 1907 over 600 men students applied for employment through the secretary of the schools. Approximately 350 positions were offered, and nearly 300 positions were filled by students, making up an aggregate earning capacity of upwards of $25,000.

The Western University of Pennsylvania is, with one exception (the University of Nashville), the oldest institution of learning west of the Appalachian Mountain ranges. It has an enrollment to-day of somewhat more than 1,100 students; and besides the Department of Astrophysics (of which, more hereafter) there are five main departments, namely: Engineering, Law, Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry. The buildings are now scattered; but the plans for the future involve the concentration of all departments on a new site. The location is most admirable, consisting of 43 acres adjacent to the Carnegie Institute, and the Technical Schools. A race for development seems not unlikely to grow up between this institution and the Technical Schools, both of which seem destined to become strong educational factors.

It was in the year 1867 that Samuel Pierpont Langley was appointed to the chair of astronomy and physics in the Western University of Pennsylvania; and beginning almost from that time the Allegheny Observatory has held a place among the working observatories of the world. The equipment contained only a thirteen-inch equatorial telescope; and necessity, then as always the greatest spur to progress, stimulated Langley's fertile brain for a means of providing his observatory with better apparatus. For some years he labored with the problem of electrical time signals for railroads, in which he was finally successful, introducing the time signals on the Pennsylvania system, and other railroads in the district. Since then observatory