Skip to Main Content

Capitol History

Since its start more than 90 years ago, Capitol Technology University has remained true to its mission – preparing students for careers in a quickly changing world. With a tradition of academic excellence and practical learning, Capitol Technology University has equipped its alumni with the knowledge and skills to evolve with the advanced sophistication of technology.

Capitol Technology University was founded in Washington, DC, as the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute in 1927 by Eugene H. Rietzke. A Navy veteran and radio operator, Rietzke foresaw the need for an advanced school that could produce talented radio and electronics technicians. CREI began as a correspondence school, but its popularity led to the 1932 opening of a residence division allowing students to work hands on in laboratories. As radio technology improved, new training programs and courses were quickly added. Following World War II, CREI became one of the first three technical institutes accredited by the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development.

The institute entered a new era in the mid-1950s when it began awarding three-year AAS degrees. The school expanded its reach to new programs in applied engineering and electronics. To reflect this evolution, the institute changed its name to Capitol Institute of Technology in 1964. It awarded its first bachelor of science degrees in 1966 to four graduates of its electronics engineering technology program. Anticipating the need for more room, Capitol relocated in 1969 to a leased space in Kensington, Maryland.

During the following decade, enrollment increased and so did the program offerings. In 1976 the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools granted accreditation to Capitol, and the National Science Foundation provided funding for new instructional scientific equipment. Quickly outgrowing its space, Capitol’s leaders recognized a need for a permanent home and began searching for a new campus.

In 1980 the college found its home in Laurel, Maryland. Within three years, Capitol purchased the 52-acre former site of the Beltsville Speedway, built new academic facilities and opened its doors. Enrollment swelled and the college added two more engineering technology degrees. Within the next decade a capital campaign and funding from the state of Maryland raised millions for buildings, equipment and a scholarship endowment. The campus expanded with Telecommunications Hall and the 340-seat Avrum Gudelsky Memorial Auditorium.

In the late 1980s, Capitol’s leadership again recognized the transformation in the institution. The technical-based curriculum had become broader, with an increasing incorporation of humanities and social science courses. With a spacious campus and four-year degrees, the school had shed its skin as a technical institute. Preferring a title and an environment that would better suit its presence, the Board of Trustees changed the school’s name to Capitol College. Along with the name change came a plan to offer more degrees in engineering and management, build on-campus housing and convert from a quarterly academic calendar to a semester system.

Master’s degrees were introduced in the 1990s. The college began several outreach efforts and business partnerships, such as the NASA PREP summer program for minority students and the Maryland Distance Learning Network. As the 20th century drew to a close, the college expanded the John G. and Beverly A. Puente Library, creating a spacious state-of-the-art facility with a multimedia teaching center. The opening of the William G. McGowan Academic Center in 2005 marked the next era for the college. The academic center hosts an expanded computer science department, the Space Operations Institute, and the BRAC-funded Cyber Battle Lab.

In 2010, Capitol launched its first doctoral program in college’s history. The doctorate in information assurance was designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the burgeoning field of cybersecurity. Offered almost exclusively online, much like Capitol’s master’s degrees, Capitol has been able to accept doctoral students from across the globe. The university added its second doctroal program, in management and decision sciences, in 2014. In all, Capitol currently offers three associate degrees, 12 bachelor’s degrees, six master’s degrees and two doctorates.

Reflecting the increased growth and diversity of programs being offered, the college became Capitol Technology University in 2014. It has embarked on a long-term strategic plan to guide its continued expansion, including new facilities on campus and expansion of academic programs. In 2017, Dr. Bradford L. Sims became the eighth president of Capitol, inheriting the proud legacy that began with Eugene H. Rietzke.

As a respected regional leader, Capitol continues attracting the attention of government agencies and corporate partners. Through a partnership with NASA, Capitol offers academic programs in astronautical engineering and practical training at its Space Operations Institute. The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have designated Capitol a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has named the college one of its twelve educational partners.

Today Capitol is the only independent university in Maryland that specializes in providing a relevant education in engineering, business and related fields. It takes pride in its proven record of placing graduates in competitive careers with salaries that are higher than the industry average.

While new innovations spur new developments and industries, the foundations that are taught at Capitol Technology University – thinking critically, actively and creatively – will remain. As it looks to the future, Capitol Technology University remains committed to providing students with a quality education and the relevant experience to excel in a changing world.