Edward Steidle was one of the most influential early leaders of U.S. mineral education. A man of vision, Steidle was blessed with a keen appreciation of a need to bring under one roof all of the sciences and technologies needed to discover, extract, process, utilize, and conserve mineral wealth for the benefit of mankind. In addition to being an imaginative and inspirational college administrator, Steidle was an excellent engineering teacher and an enthusiastic and great public servant.
Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1887, Steidle received his BS and EM degrees in mining engineering from Pennsylvania State University. From 1912 to 1916, he rapidly rose from Foreman Miner in the new U.S. Bureau of Mines to assistant to the Bureau’s Chief Mining Engineer and gained a reputation for his ability to establish agreeable relations with miners and operators and for authoring incisive publications on coal-mine safety.
During World War I, Steidle served in the U.S. Army in France and was wounded three times, earning the Victory Medal, the Pershing Citation, and the Purple Heart.
Steidle subsequently joined the Carnegie Institute of Technology as an Associate Professor of mining engineering, simultaneously collaborating and organizing research with the U.S. Bureau of Mines and mining and metallurgical companies in the Pittsburgh area.
In 1928, Steidle was appointed Dean of the School of Mining and Metallurgy at Penn State. From that time to his retirement in 1953 as the Dean of College of Mineral Industries, his planning, actions and decisions were primarily responsible for the creation of the modern College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He brought together earth-related disciplines formerly dispersed among other colleges into the School of Mineral Industries. He added petroleum and natural gas engineering, fuel technology, mineral economics, geography, and meteorology. This unification of earth-related educational programs under one roof resulted in a greater understanding of the resource extraction, utilization ,and conservation cycle.
Steidle expressed many of his ideas and philosophy on mineral education and conservation in numerous articles and books, including A Philosophy of Conservation, Mineral Industries Education, and Mineral Forecast 2000 A.D.
He collected original prints and paintings depicting all facets of mineral industry operations from the 1930s to illustrate the intersection of art, industry, and education and the vital role these industries played in the nation’s growth. The Steidle Collection remains one of the world’s finest industrial arts collections.
In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed Steidle Chairman of the Federal Coal Mine Safety Board of Review and he served until 1967. His expertise in mineral education was in constant demand by U.S. and foreign governments and by the United Nations.
In 1978, the Mineral Industries Building in Penn State’s University Park Campus was renamed the Steidle Building.