John Saylor Coon

1854 to 1938

The first chair of the mechanical engineering department was John Saylor Coon who was also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Coon worked in the mining and minerals industry before becoming a professor at the University of Tennessee in 1888 and later at Georgia Tech in 1889. Coon also eventually became superintendent of the commercial Tech shops. Because of his great contributions from his research, teaching, and duties as a department chair, his impact on the university is still felt to this day. Coon was one of the first professors at Georgia Tech, as he was appointed just one year after Tech opened its doors. Coon became the first Mechanical Engineering Professor at Georgia Tech in 1889, beginning his 35 year career at Georgia Tech. In 1896, he became superintendent of shops. During his career at Tech, he became one of the founders of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Coon believed that students should not only have practical experience, but also theoretical experience. His idea was to better prepare students for future careers. Coon's emphasis on practical experience eventually developed into the Cooperative Education Program in 1912, which is now one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Coon was offered the job as president when Dr. I. S. Hopkins, Tech's first president died, but he turned it down.

Notable Accomplishments: 
  • Tech’s first Mechanical Engineering Professor
  • 1896 Superintendent of Shops
  • A founder of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • 1912 Cooperative Education Program creator
  • Was asked to be Tech's 2nd president