As Rensselaer approaches its 200th year, the Institute is highlighting important milestones of how the world has been transformed by the achievements of Rensselaer people—past and present. Inside Rensselaer will showcase some of the remarkable achievements and anniversaries throughout the year, including notable milestones and alumni and alumnae accomplishments.
125th Anniversary: Founding of Chicago Bridge & Iron Company
Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) was founded in 1889 in Chicago, Ill., when Horace E. Horton, a bridge designer, agreed to merge business with the Kansas City Bridge and Iron Company.
While initially involved in bridge design and construction, CB&I turned its focus to bulk liquid storage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, coinciding with the western expansion of railroads across the United States and the discovery of oil in the Southwest.
George T. Horton, Class of 1893 and member of the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame, followed his father as president of CB&I, 1912-1945, where he created and oversaw improved products for the company through the introduction of new designs and use of lighter, stronger materials. He developed the modern high-capacity elevated storage tank, common throughout the world.
His support established a welding laboratory at Rensselaer that led to the Institute’s international reputation in materials engineering. Horton established Chicago Bridge & Iron scholarships and fellowships at Rensselaer in 1937, designated for the children or descendants of employees of his company. Those scholarships, which provide full tuition, are still being awarded today.