Engineering at Alfred University dates from 1900, when the New York State School of Clay-Working and Ceramics was established by an act of the legislature. Studies in the applied sciences had been important at AU from the 1869 creation of the endowed George B. Rogers Professorship of Industrial Mechanics and founding of the School of Industrial Mechanics.
The first engineering degree at AU was a four-year BS in Ceramic Engineering. Studies in glass were initiated in the late 1920's and a full degree program in Glass Science soon followed. The School of Clay-Working was renamed "The New York State College of Ceramics" in 1932.
With the completion of new research facilities in 1933, Master's degree programs in Ceramic Engineering and Glass Science were quick to follow. The college awarded doctoral degrees (D.Sc.) through examination of credentials starting in 1938; a research-based PhD program in Ceramic Science was approved in 1957, a natural consequence of the expanded research activities in advanced ceramics and glass that followed the war years.
Industrial Engineering (IE), with both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, was initiated in 1982. Undergraduate degree programs in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering began in 1985; both added master's programs in 1988.
During the 1990's, undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Materials Science were added, recognizing the growing diversity of the engineering faculty and their research. A PhD in Glass Science was established in 1990, making AU the only institution offering this degree in the United States. Today, doctoral degrees are awarded in Ceramic Science, Materials Science and Glass Science.
Graduate and undergraduate degrees in biomaterials were initiated during 1999-2002 and enhanced through a $1 million grant from the Whitaker Foundation. In 2013, the School began offering an undergraduate degree in Renewable Energy Engineering.
In 2005, the Alfred University School of Engineering was renamed in honor of Dr. Kazuo Inamori, ceramics innovator and founder of Kyocera Corporation. A long-time friend of Alfred University, Dr. Inamori received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from AU in 1988 and delivered the annual John F. McMahon Memorial Lecture in 1999. He endowed the Inamori Scholarship fund in 1996, doubling the fund in 2004. In Dr. Inamori's honor, the Kyocera Corporation has given a $10 million endowment to enable expansion of the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering's research faculty.
Today, the Inamori School of Engineering includes privately-endowed programs in mechanical, electrical and renewable energy engineering as well as the materials-related engineering programs within the New York State College of Ceramics.