John Saylor Coon

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John Saylor Coon

John Saylor Coon was an important figure in Georgia Tech's long list of engineering professors. From his knowledge, to his research, teaching, and duties as a department chair, his impact on the university is certainly felt over 70 years after his passing.





Contents

Early life and education

Coon was born on November 22, 1954 in Burdett, New York.[1] After receiving a Bachelor's Degree (Mechanical Engineering) and a Master's Degree (Mechanical Engineering) from Cornell University, he taught mechanical engineering at Cornell for a year. He then worked for multiple companies, including E.D. Leavitt and Calumet and Hecla Mining, before publishing his own papers on pumping engines.[2] Before arriving at Georgia Tech as a professor of mechanical engineering in 1889, Coon served as the chair of the mechanical engineering school at the University of Tennessee for a year.

Career at Georgia Tech

Coon was one of the first professors at Georgia Tech, as he was appointed just one year after Tech opened its doors.[3] He became the first Mechanical Engineering and Drawing Professor at Georgia Tech in 1889, beginning his 35 year career at Georgia Tech. In addition, he was the first chair of the Mechanical Engineering department, and continued that role until his retirement in 1923.[4] In 1896, he became superintendent of shops, assuming yet another role that he would thrive in.

Coon set a precedent way that classes were taught at Tech. Prior to his appointment, most of Tech's courses of study were based on a system of contract work for commercial purpose and sales. After Coon became professor at Tech, the school began to emphasize mathematics, problem solving, design and testing, and ethics.[5] 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.

While Coon was a professor at Tech, he introduced a senior thesis for Mechanical Engineers, which helped involve senior students in experimental lab projects with design and testing components.[6] His idea was to prepare students for future careers by incorporating not only theoretical learning, but also practical experience. 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.

George C Griffin's remarks

George C. Griffin was a student at Tech beginning in 1914, and after graduating, he became a teacher and later served as the dean of students until 1964. Griffin called Coon "Tech's greatest professor." Despite the fact that Griffin was a civil engineer, he said he would visit Coon's Mechanical Engineering classes "just to hear him lecture."[7] Griffin claims that Coon, through his proverbs, teaching, and moral values, taught lessons that his students will never forget.[8]

Coon's Life outside of Academics

While Coon was not busy contributing to Georgia Tech and other universities, he particularly enjoyed gardening, and even planted roses on campus at times. He enjoyed opera and other forms of classical music. After Coon retired from Georgia Tech in 1923, he went to New York, where he died on May 16, 1938. [9]

School of Psychology Building

The School of Psychology Building (654 Cherry Street) was dedicated to John Saylor Coon taken by Mayank Tahilramani 2010

The School of Psychology Building was dedicated to Coon when it opened following his retirement, and is now named the "John Saylor Coon Psychology Building." Although he was an engineer, it was appropriate to name the psychology building after Coon because of his great focus on ethics while he was a professor. The building is located at the south end of campus near North Avenue, on the corner of Ferst Drive and Cherry Street.[10]




References

  1. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  2. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  3. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  4. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  5. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  6. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  7. John Dunn. "Tech's Greatest Professor." Retrieved November 17, 2010 from http://gtalumni.org/Publications/magazine/spr98/coon.html.
  8. John Dunn. "Tech's Greatest Professor." Retrieved November 17, 2010 from http://gtalumni.org/Publications/magazine/spr98/coon.html.
  9. John Saylor Coon Collection, 1878-1967. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from the Georgia Tech Archives.
  10. Georgia Tech School of Psychology. Retrieved online November 17, 2010 from http://www.psychology.gatech.edu/Hfa/contact_us.html.
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