Ray Coltharp was the chairman of the Industrial Arts Department at Memphis State and
many of his students went into local manufacturing and construction industries. The students were successful leaders and filled the gap when engineering schools
moved to more scientific programs after the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957.
The Division of Technology was formed with Mr. Coltharp as the director. Industrial Arts was in the division along with the technologies of electronics, drafting
and design, manufacturing, construction and architectural. The Division of Technology and its approximately 800 students were placed in the
Herff College of Engineering. The Division was later changed to the Department of Engineering Technology.
According to retired Engineering Technology faculty member Glen Davis, “Ray Coltharp
was my advisor and he dedicated his life to providing leaders for education, manufacturing,
and construction in this area. He was my mentor and the person to whom I owe my success in teaching. Myrlie, his wife, was a wonderful and supportive lady.”
Mr. Coltharp brought in Weston T. Brooks as his replacement, and finished his career
teaching in the department. He received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1968.