1903 William G. Ramsay

William G. Ramsay (1866-1916) led the creation and development of DuPont's Engineering Department in the early years of the 20th century. Trained at the University of Virginia, Ramsay learned the practical aspects of civil engineering while working on railroads in the 1880s and early 1890s and joined DuPont's dynamite plant at Repauno, N.J., in 1892.Show more

After serving in the Spanish-American War, Ramsay returned to DuPont and in 1903 was named to head DuPont's new Engineering Department. Beginning with a staff of just two engineers, a draftsman and a secretary, Chief Engineer Ramsay steadily expanded the department to 120 engineers and a payroll of 800 by 1914. Under his direction, DuPont's Engineering Department undertook a variety of construction projects for the company's growing operations, including plant design and construction, as well as non-industrial projects such as the DuPont Theatre, formerly The Playhouse Theatre, and the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington.


Ramsay's biggest challenge came with the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914, when the Engineering Department orchestrated the rapid and massive expansion of munitions plants to meet Allied demands. On September 28, 1916, at age 50, Ramsay died while in the middle of this unprecedented expansion. In DuPont's Annual Report that year, company President Pierre S. du Pont singled out Ramsay's Engineering Department for praise in successfully meeting the huge construction demands. "No greater tribute can be paid to the memory of Major William G. Ramsay, late Chief Engineer of our Company," said President du Pont, "than to recognize his genius as the responsible factor in this achievement."