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John Saylor Coon Photograph

John Saylor Coon Photograph

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Descriptive Summary

Title: John Saylor Coon Photograph
Identification: VAM313
Date: undated
Size/Quantity: 0.1 linear feet (one photograph)
Language: This collection is written in English.
Creator: Coon, John Saylor, 1854-1938
Repository: Archives & Records Management, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology
Abstract:This collection contains one reprint photograph of John Saylor Coon.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Saylor Coon (1854-1938) was appointed the first Mechanical Engineering and Drawing Professor at the Georgia School of Technology in 1889. The first chair of the Mechanical Engineering department, in 1896 he also assumed the role of superintendent of shops. During his thirty-five year career at Georgia Tech, Coon contributed much to the growth and reputation of the school.

Coon was born on November 22, 1854 in Burdett, New York, to William Clarke and Susan Saylor Coon. He was educated at Cornell University, obtaining a B.S. and an M.S. in mechanical engineering in 1877. After his graduation, he remained at Cornell as an instructor in mechanical engineering for one year. During the years that followed he held positions at E.D. Leavitt in New York, Calumet and Hecla Mining in Boston, and the Anaconda Copper Company in Montana. In 1882 and 1888 he published papers on pumping engines and upright boilers in the ASME Transactions. Coon served as the chair of mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee beginning in 1888, but less than a year later he accepted the professorship in mechanical engineering and drawing at Georgia Tech.

During his years at Georgia Tech, Coon revised the curriculum, moving the school away from the system of contract work for commercial sales and toward courses of study that emphasized design and testing, mathematics, problem solving, and ethics. A founding member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, he was interested in providing theoretical as well as practical experience. The apprentice system, which was introduced in the fall of 1888 and supported by Coon, allowed young students to get training in advanced mathematics and science and introduced them to unfamiliar machines and tools. Coon also revised course descriptions and introduced a senior thesis, which involved senior students in experimental laboratory projects with design and testing components. In the shops, Coon emphasized the conceptualization of engineering problems in mechanical terms, mechanical drawing, and practical experience. All students were required to take four years of mechanical draw ing. Coon’s emphasis on practical experience developed into the Cooperative Education Program, which was initiated in 1912. Coon also incorporated the teaching of ethical standards into the curriculum. Both cooperative education and the teaching of ethics remain firmly established in the training of engineers at Tech.

Coon retired from Georgia Tech in 1923 and returned to Canandaigua, New York, where he died on May 16, 1938.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains a single photograph reprint of John Saylor Coon.

Index Terms

Coon, John Saylor, 1854-1938
Georgia Institute of Technology. Faculty.
Georgia Institute of Technology. School of Mechanical Engineering.
Georgia School of Technology.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Please cite John Saylor Coon Photograph (VAM313), Archives, Library and Information Center, Georgia Institute of Technology.


The photograph was obtained from the Georgia Tech Alumni Association (2006.195).

Processing Information

Jody Lloyd Thompson processed this photograph in June 2007.

Revisions to Finding Aid

April 2010:
  • Finding aid imported into Archivists' Toolkit.

  • Restrictions

    Restrictions: Access


    Restrictions: Use

    All copyright restrictions under the laws of the United States Copyright must be obeyed. All photographs in this collection are subject to approval before publication may be permitted. Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.

    Separated Material

    This photograph has been separated from the John Saylor Coon Collection, MS313.

    Other Finding Aids

    A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.

    Container List

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    11VAM313: John Saylor Coon, undated