History & Traditions

Chronology of the Cockrell School

Many milestone events occurred during the storied history of the Cockrell School from 1882 to today.

Friends of Alec

No one expected Alec to have many friends. A quiet, unassuming guy in an obscure corner of a local watering hole, Alec seemed destined to view life with arm raised to another's good cheer. But three young engineering college students befriended the lone figure one evening, and changed his destiny, as well as their own.

Lighting the Tower

Carl J. Eckhardt Jr. never won a Nobel Prize for his work with light, but he started some great UT traditions. Eckhardt used light as he would use wood and metal: to celebrate the Longhorn spirit. When he implemented the orange lighting of the UT tower, he demonstrated one of the engineer's chief contributions to society--applying technology for human benefit.

Alexander Frederick Claire

Alec is one of the most publicized and well-known traditions known to the Cockrell School of Engineering and The University of Texas at Austin. During his 100-plus years, Alec has had his share of adventures; he's suffered kidnappings, amputations, even an arrest, followed by a pardon from Texas Governor James Ferguson. He's been repaired, de-commissioned, revived, replicated. And he has endured.

The Ramshorn

Before the UT Tower commanded the campus landscape, before Bevo presided over UT sports, and before the Hook 'em Horns sign became a friendly hand gesture, the Ramshorn defined excellence for students eager to be engineers. It is the country's oldest quality symbol.

Who are the Cockrells?

With a unanimous vote and authoritative strike of the gavel, the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on July 11, 2007, renamed the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin the Cockrell School of Engineering. The school’s new name honors the late Ernest Cockrell Jr., his wife Virginia and the Cockrell family of Houston, whose estate has developed the equivalent of a $220 million endowment for the school.