The next two decades were a period of rapid expansion for the school. In 1984, the University of Nevada Board of Regents approved separate bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering (aerospace studies/Air Force ROTC was established in 2004). William Wells became the first director of the School of Engineering in 1986, and a year later, all eligible engineering programs had received accreditation through the National Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.
In 1988, the School of Engineering separated from the College of Sciences to form the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, named for one of the most innovative aviators and engineers of the 20th century and a central figure in the growth of Las Vegas. Dr. Wells became the college's founding dean. The next year saw the completion of the Thomas T. Beam Engineering Complex, where for the first time the college's programs were consolidated into a single, multidisciplinary space.
In 1990, the $10 million National Supercomputing Institute for Energy and the Environment took up residence in the engineering complex, enhancing the ability of engineering and computer science faculty to conduct numerical research. Civil engineering became the inaugural engineering doctoral program approved by the Board of Regents, and marked the growth of research and advanced degree programs at the university.
The next year, doctoral programs became available in all four academic departments of the College of Engineering. Currently the college offers several master’s degrees in aerospace, biomedical, construction management, materials & nuclear, and transportation engineering, in addition to those offered in the traditional areas (civil & environmental, computer science, electrical & computer, and mechanical).
Research within the college was boosted in 2009 by the opening of the brand new Science and Engineering Building (SEB), which provides faculty and students with expanded opportunities for multidisciplinary research using state-of-the-art equipment.
The college is especially proud of its faculty, some of whom have received national recognition — fellows of their respective professional organizations and national/international awards in recognition of their contribution to specific areas of research – while others exhibit great potential in many areas including biomedical, environmental, renewable energy, security, and transportation engineering. Their achievements are reflected in the external funding they have received from federal and state agencies, as well as private industries.