Brooklyn Technical High School

Brooklyn Technical High School, commonly called Brooklyn Tech or just Tech, and also administratively as High School 430, is a New York City public high school that specializes in engineering, math and science and is the largest specialized high school for science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the United States.

Together with Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science, it is one of three original specialized science high schools, operated by the New York City Department of Education, all three of which were cited by The Washington Post in 2006 as among the best magnet schools in the United States. Admission is by competitive examination though, as a public school, there is no tuition fee and only residents of the City of New York are eligible to attend.

Brooklyn Tech is a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology. Brooklyn Tech is noted for its famous alumni (including two Nobel Laureates), its academics, and the large number of graduates attending prestigious universities. Routinely, more than 98% of its graduates are accepted to four-year colleges with the 2007 graduating class being offered more than $1,250,000 in scholarships and grants.

Building and facilities

The school, built on its present site from 1930-33 at a cost of $6 million, is 12 stories high, and covers over half a city block. Brooklyn Technical High School is directly across the street from Fort Greene Park. Facilities at BTHS include:

  • Gymnasia on the first and eighth floors, with a mezzanine running track above the larger first floor gym. The eighth floor gym had a bowling alley lane and an adjacent wire-mesh enclosed rooftop sometimes used for handball and for tennis practice.
  • 25-yard swimming pool
  • The school has a ping pong arena and team
  • Wood, machine, sheet metal and other specialized shops. A program in the 1960s involved a shop where an actual house was built and framed by students. Most have been converted into normal classrooms or computer labs, except for a robotics shop.
  • Foundry on the seventh floor, with a floor of molding sand used for creating sand casting molds and equipped with furnaces, kilns, ovens and ancillary equipment for metal smelting. Students made wooden patterns in pattern making which were used to make sand molds which were cast in the foundry and machined to specification in the machine shops. It was closed during the 1990s. The foundry complemented a mandatory course titled "Industrial Processes" which emphasized metallurgy and "how industry functions".
  • Materials testing lab, used during the basic materials science (Strength of Materials) class. Included industrial capacity Universal Testing Machine and brinell hardness tester and polishing and microscopic examination rooms. During the 1960s, students attended "inspection training shop" and were taught to use X-ray analysis to detect metal fatigue failures, use of vernier measuring instruments, micrometers, and go-no-go gauges.
  • Aeronautical lab, featuring a large wind tunnel, During the 1960s, a T-6 Texan U.S. Air Force surplus aircraft in the building was used for student aeronautical mechanic instruction.
  • Radio studio and 18,000 watt transmitter licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as WNYE (FM). The studio has not been used since the 1980s.
  • 3,100-seat auditorium — Second-largest in New York City next to Radio City Music Hall, with two balconies
  • Recital hall
  • Drafting, both pencil and ink technical drawing and freehand drawing rooms
  • Library with fireplaces
  • Football field on Fulton and Clermont Streets. The Football Field, named in honor of Brooklyn Tech Alumnus Charles Wang, was opened in 2001, with the home opener played October 6, 2001, against DeWitt Clinton High School.
  • Access to Fort Greene Park for outdoor track, tennis, etc.

A -tall rooftop broadcasting antenna, when added to the height of the building itself (145 ft), makes Brooklyn Tech the borough's tallest structure, at high. It is taller than Brooklyn's tallest building, the Williamsburg Savings Bank.

In 1934, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), which later became the Works Projects Administration (WPA), commissioned artist Maxwell B. Starr to paint a mural in the foyer depicting the evolution of man and science throughout history.

Brooklyn Tech's founder and first principal, Dr. Albert L. Colston, had an apartment built for himself in the tower of the building, and was the only person to live at Brooklyn Tech.

In December 2006, developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner proposed a new building for Tech as part of the basketball arena he is constructing at the Atlantic Yards. The building will reportedly be able to fit about 6000 students.


Original plan

In 1918, Dr. Albert L. Colston, chair of the Math Department at Manual Training High School, recommended establishing a technical high school for Brooklyn boys. His plan envisioned a heavy concentration of math, science, and drafting courses with parallel paths leading either to college or to a technical career in industry. By 1922, Dr. Colston's concept was approved by the Board of Education, and Brooklyn Technical High School opened in a converted warehouse at 49 Flatbush Avenue Extension, with 2,400 students. This location, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, is the reason the school seal bears that bridge's image, rather than the more obvious symbol for the borough, the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn Tech would occupy one more location before settling into its current (as of 2008) site, for which the groundbreaking was held in 1930.

Early academics

Atypically for American high schools, Brooklyn Tech uses a system of college-style majors. The curriculum consists of two years of general studies with a technical and engineering emphasis, followed by two years of a student-chosen major.

The curriculum remained largely unchanged until the end of Dr. Colston's 20-year term as principal in 1942. Upon his retirement, Tech was led briefly by acting principal Ralph Breiling, who was succeeded by Principal Harold Taylor in 1944. Tech's modernization would come under Principal William Pabst, who assumed stewardship in 1946 after serving as chair of the Electrical Department. Pabst created new majors and refined older ones, allowing students to select science and engineering preparatory majors including Aeronautical, Architecture, Chemistry, Civil, Electrical (later including Electronics and Broadcast), Industrial Design, Mechanical, Structural, and Arts and Sciences. A general College Preparatory curriculum, would be added later.


Principal Pabst retired in 1964. A railroad club was established by the late Vincent Gorman, a social studies teacher, and students attended fan trips, tours of rail repair facilities and participated in the restoration of steam engine #103 and a historic rail passenger car at the former Empire State Railroad Museum. In August 1965, a ten-year-old boy named Carl Johnson drowned in the swimming pool at Brooklyn Tech while swimming with his day-camp group. The next year, more than 30 graduating Seniors in the school (including many student leaders) complained that Tech's curriculum was old and outdated. Their primary complaint was that the curriculum was geared towards the small minority of students that were not planning on attending college. In 1967 the schools of New York City got to view television in the classrooms for the first time, thanks to the station WNYE-TV, then located in the transmitter center on top of Brooklyn Tech.

New York City specialized high schools

In 1972, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, Stuyvesant High School, and High School for Performing Arts become incorporated by the New York State Legislature as specialized high schools of New York City. The act called for a uniform exam to be administered for admission to Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Stuyvesant. The exam would become known as the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) and tested students in math and English. With its statewide recognition, the school had to become co-educational.

In 1973, Tech celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner-dance at the Waldorf Astoria. To further commemorate the anniversary, a monument was erected, with a time capsule beneath it, in the north courtyard. The monument has eight panels, each with a unique design representing each of Tech's eight majors at that point.

Technological advances again changed Tech's character in 1976, with the school adding the Graphic Communications major, now commonly known as the "Media" major.

In 1983, Matt Mandery's appointment as principal made him the first Tech alumnus to hold that position. The following year, Tech received the Excellence in Education award from the U.S. Department of Education. The Alumni Association was formally created during this time, and coalitions were formed with the New York City Department of Transportation. Mandery oversaw the addition of a Bio-Medical major to the curriculum.

John Tobin followed as principal in 1987 and abolished the Materials Science department and closing the seventh-floor foundry.


In March 1998, an alumni group led by Leonard Riggio, class of 1958, announced plans for a fund-raising campaign to raise $10 million to support their alma mater financially through facilities upgrades, establishment of curriculum enhancements, faculty training, and a university-type endowment. The endowment fundraiser, the first of its kind for an American public school, received front-page attention at The New York Times and sparked a friendly competition amongst the specialized high schools, with both Bronx Science and Stuyvesant announcing their own $10 million campaigns within weeks of the Brooklyn Tech announcement. In November 2005, the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Association announced the completion of the fundraising phase of what they had termed the Campaign for Brooklyn Tech. In April 2008, the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation launched a second endowment campaign.

Lee McCaskill controversy

Dr. Lee D. McCaskill, appointed principal in 1992, served for 14 years, during which Tech saw the installation of more computer classrooms and the switch from traditional mechanical drawing by hand to teaching the use of computer-aided design programs. McCaskill also presided over the elimination of long-standing hallmark academic concentrations at Tech such as aerospace engineering.

In 2003, The New York Times published an investigative article that noted "longstanding tensions" between the faculty and Principal McCaskill, "spilled into the open in October, with news reports that several teachers accused him of repeatedly sending sexually explicit e-mail messages from his school computer to staff members". The article described the principal as autocratic, controlling the school "largely through fear and intimidation", and documented acts of personal vindictiveness toward teachers; severe censorship of the student newspaper and of assigned English texts, including the refusal to let the Pulitzer Prize-finalist novel Continental Drift by Russell Banks be used for a class; and of bureaucratic mismanagement. The article also quoted praise from McCaskill's supervising superintendent, Reyes Irizarry, who cited the principal's expansion of music and sports programs.

A follow-up column in 2004 found the situation had worsened due to increased teacher exodus, and documented Principal McCaskill's campaign against Alice Alcala, described as one of the city's leading Shakespeare teachers. Alcala had won Brooklyn Tech a $10,000 grant and brought in the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain for student workshops. "When [McCaskill] tried killing her Shakespeare program", the Times wrote, "she went over his head to the central administration and got it reinstated. The day after she was quoted in news articles criticizing McCaskill, she received an unsatisfactory classroom observation rating for the first time in 28 years of teaching. She was repeatedly denied access to the auditorium and in June, got an unsatisfactory for the year." Alcala left for Manhattan's Murry Bergtraum High School, where she shortly thereafter brought in $1,800 in grants for Shakespeare education, while at Brooklyn Tech, the article reported, there was no longer any course solely devoted to Shakespeare.

2005 articles in the New York Daily News and New York Teacher note that a $10,000 grant obtained by Dr. Sylvia Weinberger in 2001 to refurbish the obsolete radio room remained unused. New classroom computers were covered in plastic rather than installed because the classrooms had yet to be wired for them.

The Office of Special Investigations of the New York City Department of Education launched an investigation of McCaskill on February 2, 2006, concerning unpaid enrollment of New Jersey resident McCaskill's daughter in New York City public school, which is illegal for non-residents of the city. On February 6, McCaskill announced his resignation from Brooklyn Tech and agreed to pay $19,441 in restitution.

On February 7, 2006, the Department of Education named Randy Asher, founding principal of the High School for Math, Science and Engineering (HSMSE), as interim acting principal. Mr. Asher had previously served as Tech's assistant principal in mathematics from 2000-2002 before leaving to become founding principal of HSMSE.

Special commissioner Richard J. Condon rebuked the Department of Education a week later for allowing McCaskill to retire, still collecting $125,282 in accrued vacation time, just days before the OSI completed its investigation. Condon also recommended that Cathy Furman McCaskill, the principal's wife, be dismissed from her position as a teacher at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn for her part in submitting fake leases and other fraudulent documents to indicate the family lived in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. The next day, the Department of Education announced it would move to fire her.

Tech in the 21st century

Since 2001, Brooklyn Tech has undergone such refurbishing as the renovation of the school's William L. Mack Library entrance, located on the fifth-floor center section. As well, two computer labs were added. The school also reinstated a class devoted to the study of Shakespeare, which students can elect to take in their senior year.

Classes were held during the 2005 New York City transit strike, though attendance was sparse.

Tech uses a college-style system of majors, unusual for an American high school. As of June 2008, majors include:

Students apply for majors in sophomore year, and take ten semesters of major classes throughout junior and senior year. Tech also has a Bio-Chemistry major as part of its "Gateway to Medicine" program, to which, unlike the other majors, students apply to as incoming freshmen. All Advanced Placement science courses are taught as double periods to accommodate the large lab requirement.

Extracurricular activities

Brooklyn Tech fields 30 junior-varsity and varsity teams in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL). The school's more than 100 clubs and organizations include hockey club, math, debate, forensics (speech), robotics, football team, fashion club, chess and mock trial teams, which compete in inter-school tournaments. The Model U.N. Club provides students with a venue for discussing foreign affairs. The Rowing Club provides students an experience on the Hudson River. Other clubs cater to a wide range of topics such as anime, Dance Dance Revolution, ultimate Frisbee, politics, quilting, fashion and animal rights. The cheerleading squad is named the Enginettes. S.I.N.G. is an annual tradition that pits seniors against juniors against freshmen and sophomores in a competition to create the best student-produced play. Additionally, Tech students put on a musical each spring.

There are two step teams, Lady Dragons and Organized C.H.A.O.S.

The school Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA), Mr Marc Williams works with students to help organize events and gain administration approval for student activities.

Beginning with the class of 2010, each student must meet the following requirements by the end of their senior year to receive a Brooklyn Technical High School diploma:

I. A minimum of 50 hours of community service outside of the school or through specified club activities.

II. A minimum of 32 points earned through participation in Tech clubs, teams, and/or participation in designated school related events.

A. Points are earned as follows: 1. 8 points per term to all students in BETA, NHS, Student Government, student productions, stageworks, cheerleading, and PSAL teams. 2. 6 points per term to all students participating student leadership, who work on office squads, or compete in non-PSAL teams. 3. 4 points per term to all students who participate in all other clubs not referred to above. 4. 2 points per term for participation in specified school events

Notable alumni

Hall of Fame inductees listed separately at end, by year. Note: No inductions 2001-2002, 2004, and 2006-2007.

1998 Hall of Fame inductees

Inaugural year

1999 Hall of Fame inductees

2000 Hall of Fame inductees

2003 Hall of Fame inductees

2005 Hall of Fame inductees

See also



External links

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