Edward Williams is perhaps best known for the large brick building on Lehigh's campus that was named in his honor. In 1875, he completed a bachelor's degree in chemistry. The following year he received a degree in mining engineering. He began a long and distinguished career as a professor of mining engineering and geology at Lehigh in 1881. Dissatisfied with the lack of honors available to his engineering students, he founded the nation's first engineering honors society, Tau Beta Pi, on Lehigh's campus in 1885. TBPi remains the oldest and best recognized engineering honor society in the country. In addition to his contributions as a professor, Williams provided funding for Williams Hall and started the Williams prize, a cash award given annually to students of high achievement.
"To mark in a fitting manner those who have conferred honor upon their Alma Mater by distinguished scholarship and exemplary character as undergraduates in engineering, or by their attainments as alumni in the field of engineering, and to foster a spirit of liberal culture in engineering colleges."
– Dr. Edward H. Williams, Jr., Explanation for starting TBP
Birthplace: Proctorsville, VT
Degree: BS chemistry, mining engineering
Graduation: 1875, 1876
Notable Achievement: Founder of engineering honors society Tau Beta Pi