Conception

Before there was an Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department, there was a larger entity of which it was an integral part. That entity, 'The California Polytechnic School' was established January 1, 1902.

Given the setting, one wonders why and how a statewide institution for vocational education came to be established in San Luis Obispo.

In 1883, Myron Angel who had accepted an assignment to write an account of San Luis Obispo found a community which would reach a population of 3200 by 1900 in a state of 1,485,053 persons. He said, "San Luis Obispo is one of the most neglected places in California."

The year 1894 brought the railroad all the way from San Francisco, across the coastal range to San Luis Obispo. 1901 was a banner year because now San Luis Obispo had been linked to Los Angeles to the south making a through passage by railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It takes more than events to bring about an institution like the California Polytechnic School . It takes a person for an initial concept plus more persons to see the worth of the concept and to pursue that concept through to reality.

The concept -- who saw a need, who had a dream, who had the courage and energy to work from conception to programs, facilities and students? That person whose vision and concept born out of life's struggles was Myron Angel.

Myron Angel was born and raised in Oneonta, New York. The lure of riches, gold to be exact, brought him and his brother to California. They had arrived in San Diego, but traveled up the coast to San Francisco in 1849. Times were tough and their poverty was dramatically real. After a despairing time, a job offer was finally made to him, a job to shingle the roof of a house. Even though haunted by little food and meager shelter, he had to refuse the job offer and a chance at a better life because "I never drove a nail in my life." This frustrating experience made an indelible impression on him. It became the germ of the concept for training in the very practical aspects of life; that is, the need for vocational education.

With time, life improved for Myron Angel. He became a journalist and acquired some knowledge and understanding of Sacramento and the practical operations of state government. While home on a trip to Oneonta, New York, the new normal school attracted his attention. It was a normal school which trained teachers to emphasize the practical things in life. This was a good and progressive idea he could bring back to California.

Upon his return to California, he started a movement to seek enabling legislation for a normal school in San Luis Obispo patterned after the one in Oneonta. As one might expect, there were many reasons offered in opposition. It was pointed out that California had sufficient normal schools (Chico, San Jose, etc.) to meet its needs.

Senator S. C. Smith from Bakersfield was impressed with much of what Mr. Angel was attempting to do. He changed the concept from a normal school to a polytechnic school and introduced legislation to that effect in 1897 only to have it vetoed by Governor J. H. Budd.

Angel was not dismayed. Some far-sighted residents banded together to help in the cause. Mayor William Shipsey of San Luis Obispo gave his support.

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