The first attempt to establish a Production Engineering course, which was then called “Administrative Organizations” or “Industrial Organizations”, at POLI took place on March 21, 1955.
On this date, Professor Ruy Aguiar da Silva Leme proposed the establishment of a “continued education course for engineering graduates who, being already employed in industry, can learn more from the course.” In keeping with his proposal, a request for additional courses in the Industrial Organizations field had been proposed by the school’s alumni.
Professor Ruy Leme, the founder of the course, graduated in civil engineering from POLI in 1948 and was an assistant professor there from 1949 to 1953, when he became acting professor. In 1954, he acquired the title of livre-docente (a senior academic title in Brazil) of Chair 19, Political Economics, Applied Statistics and Administrative Organizations, thanks to his thesis on “The extremes of occasional samples and their applications to Engineering”.
The first continued education courses were taught by Ruy Leme himself, along with the engineer F. B. Harris, a Production Engineering professor from the University of Michigan (who was then working as a professor at the Business Administration School of the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo), and Leonard Hall, a professor of Finance from the University of Michigan (who was also working in São Paulo). The two latter professors were connected with Point IV, an American program that provided support for administrative modernization and development projects in Brazil.
Several continued education courses were then offered until, in May 1958, thanks to an initiative of Ruy Leme, the Polytechnic School approved the establishment of an undergraduate Production Engineering course as an option within Mechanical Engineering, alongside the Project option. The course started being offered in 1959 and continued to be a Mechanical Engineering option until 1970. Thus, third-years Mechanics students in 1958 were able to choose between Project and Production.
The first graduating class
The year of 1960 can be regarded as a landmark. This was when the first class of production engineers graduated from POLI/USP, with a total of 12 graduates out of a class of 37 newly graduated mechanical engineers.
The faculty of the Production Engineering course at that time was comprised of engineers, especially civil engineers that had graduated from POLI, chemical engineers and, above all, engineers who had professional experience in the fields of management and engineering in São Paulo industries. Many had been teaching at POLI since 1955 and several were recent alumni that had studied with Professor Ruy Leme in the Production and Industrial Administration Course from 1955 to 1957.
Besides Ruy Leme, the first professors of the course were Max Barcellos Corrêa, Américo Oswaldo Campiglia (Ruy Leme’s first Chair 19 assistants), Sergio Baptista Zaccarelli, Francisco Assis Oliva, Sergio Augusto Penna Kehl, Hans Link, Claus Leon Warschauer, Marcos Pontual and Silas Fonseca Redondo.
Creating the Department
In 1963, the specific disciplines of the Production option of the Mechanical Engineering course were brought together into one Department, following a change that had taken place in USP. That same year, the first two chairs directly derived from the Production Engineering course were established. Along with Chair 19, they formed the initial basis for the Department: chairs no. 47 and 48, or Production Organization and Production Planning, respectively. On April 3, 1963, Professor Ruy Leme was elected to the position of first department head of the Production Engineering Department of the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo.
From 1959 to 1964, the undergraduate course was housed at the Paula Souza building, alongside Naval Engineering, in the district of Bom Retiro in downtown São Paulo City. However, in 1965, the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering course (both the Project and the Production options) was transferred to the Cidade Universitária [University City] campus, along with the Naval and Electrical Engineering courses, to a building designed by the architect Ernest Roberto Carvalho Mange.
The First Production Engineering Week
By the mid-1960s, Production Engineering had already become a consolidated Polytechnic School course, but it had yet to fully establish itself as a professional area. The realization that something should be done about this was the key driver behind the First Production Engineering Week in 1965. This helped to make the relationship between the university and the São Paulo entrepreneurial world closer.
One of the outcomes of this First Week was the establishment in 1967 of the Carlos Alberto Vanzolini Foundation by a group of professors from the Production Engineering Department, led by Ruy Leme. The Vanzolini Foundation soon published the book Contrôles da Produção [Production Controls] with the contents of the First Week talks. Then, in 1968, it began offering half-yearly continued education and development courses on Production Engineering and Business Administration.
Undergraduate Degree in Production Engineering
On November 27, 1970, the Governing Board of the Polytechnic School of USP approved the institution of an autonomous undergraduate course in Production Engineering. Thus, it ceased to be one of the Mechanical Engineering options and became a fully autonomous course.
However, even before this, since 1968, the POLI/USP Production Engineering Department had been offering a master’s degree program on a regular basis. Later, in 1972, the first doctoral program was implemented.
In August of 1975, decree no. 78 319 granted accreditation to the Production Engineering Course of the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo.