CHICAGO, IL — The year was 1899. The President was William McKinley. Marconi arrived in the United States to display his wireless telegraph.

U.S. automobile production reached 2,500 vehicles. A century of steam power was drawing to a close, and the age of electricity was dawning.

And another thing was true in 1899: There was a need for well-trained, skilled technicians.

Coyne American Institute, possibly the Midwest’s oldest technical trade school, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

In 1899, the Coyne Electrical School of Boston established a branch of its technical school in Chicago. (The Boston school had been established by the Coyne brothers three years earlier.)

Setting standards

Over the next 50 years, the school (operated by the B.W. Cooke family) started many training traditions, such as:

  • The Coyne three-step “Practical Technical Training Method,” under which students are taught classroom theory, practical demonstration, and real job performance;

  • Ongoing placement support for graduates; and

  • Partnerships with industry and community organizations.

As the age of radio evolved, Coyne’s proficiency in radio training proved vital to the war effort in the 1940s. When television became the main source of in-home entertainment in the 1950s, TV service and repair was added.

However, the school’s core of excellence is in its electrical maintenance and hvacr curricula.

When Coyne Electrical merged with the American Institute of Engineering and Technology in the late 60s, Coyne American Institute took shape and the current location on Fullerton Ave. became home.

The school now offers core training in electronics, including computer training from the technician’s perspective.

Hat’s off to this 100-year-old tradition that’s poised to ride the wave of the future!