Sixty Years of the Summer Course
Amos Eaton designed a curriculum that included physical exercise in the form of "afternoon" or "scholastic amusements". In an early publication of the Rensselaer School, Eaton described this characteristic of the curriculum.
Corporal exercise is not only necessary for the health of students, but for qualifying them for the business of life. When such exercises are chosen by students they are not always judiciously selected. Such exercises as running, jumping, climbing, scuffing, and the like are calculated to detract from that dignity of deportment which becomes a man of science. Therefore a system of exercises is adopted at this school which, while it improves the health, also improves the mind and excludes those vulgarisms which are too often rendered habitual among students. Such exercises as land surveying [and] general engineering... are made the duties of students for a stated number of hours on each day.
In 1856, a one year certificate course in Land Surveying was introduced. This program was phased out in 1860 when the civil engineering degree program
was extended to four years. The modified program included theory and practice in various types of surveys. By the 1870s, the last nine weeks of the spring
semester were devoted to practice in hydrographical and topographical surveying for juniors and line surveying for seniors.