Virginia Tech® home


We wrote the book

Want to learn more about our history? The department has published a book that explores our roots dating back to the beginnings of the university in 1872. It includes historic photos and stories from alumni. To order your copy, send an email to Cost is $40, plus $7 for shipping.

Forging a legend

In 1963, three Virginia Polytechnic Institute Corps of Cadets — Alton “Butch” Harper, Homer “Sonny” Hickam, and George Fox — wanted the Hokies to have a cannon at football games to rival Virginia Military Institute's "Little John."

They convinced what was then called the Industrial Engineering Department to build a wooden model, rounded up money and donations of brass to be melted down for the project, and had the cannon cast at the Virginia Foundry in Roanoke.

At 1963's VPI v. VMI game, "Skipper" was fired for the first time. Today, cadets continue the tradition at every home football game. Materials Science and Engineering is proud to be a part of Skipper's story.

Read more