The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) can trace its roots back to the Morrill Act of 1862. This piece of legislation extended the reach of higher education “to promote the liberal practical education of the industrial classes in several pursuits and professions of life.”
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act took the initiative on practical education one step further by specifically establishing extension services that would “…give instruction and practical demonstration to persons not attending or residents in said colleges and imparting to such persons information on said subjects through field demonstrations, publications and otherwise.” Then in 1917, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act (P.L. 64-347) and established public vocational technical education. At this time, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas began a trade and industrial teacher training service, where academia served not only the educational needs of our society, but also the vocational training needs as well.
In 1919, industrial teacher training started on a limited basis at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Two courses were offered by extension under the supervision of the Department of Agricultural Education – one was Methods of Teaching Industrial Education. This set in motion a course of action that would eventually lead to the establishment of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
A School of Vocational Teaching was established in 1924, which included departments of Rural Education, Agricultural Education and Industrial Education. The Industrial Education Department was closed in the spring of 1925. It reopened in October 1925 and was charged with developing effective industrial teacher training. Soon after, the department began offering training conferences for foremen of oil field production crews to improve the job planning and work supervision in the rapidly developing East Texas oil fields. Beginning in 1929, the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association and the Texas Legislature established a permanent firefighter training school at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.
In 1935, the school of Vocational Teaching was dissolved and the Department of Industrial Education was transferred to the School of Engineering. In August 1940, the Industrial Extension Service was born. The original programs included water and sewage plant operator training, peace officer training, public building custodian training and automobile training. Firefighter training had been conducted on the Texas A&M campus since 1930 and was incorporated into the Industrial Extension Service programs in 1947.
At the Texas A&M College Board of Directors meeting in July 1948, the Industrial Extension Service was changed to the Engineering Extension Service as part of the Texas A&M College System. The Engineering Extension Service was charged with the responsibility of providing occupational and technical training services on an extension basis to the citizens of Texas (Tex. Educ. Code Chapter 88). This action was taken to comply with the mandate of the original Land Grant College Act, known as the Morrill Act.
Today, as a member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX offers hands-on, customized training, technical assistance and emergency response services impacting Texas and beyond. Agency programs include fire and emergency services, homeland security, public safety and security, public works, safety and health, search and rescue, and knowledge engineering. TEEX also sponsors Texas Task Force 1, which is both a state and federal urban search and rescue team. Since 1998, TEEX has been home to the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center.