Education: Company-to-Campus

Except for the neat sign that says "Northrop Institute of Technology," the pale green buildings look like any factory in bustling (aerospace) Inglewood, adjoining Los Angeles. This is fitting, for N.I.T. is the only U.S. campus spawned by an industrial corporation as an in-plant cram school and then successfully converted to a much respected nonprofit college, whose graduates now number 9,000.

N.I.T. was fathered by James L. Mc-Kinley in 1942 to train production engineers for Northrop Aircraft's wartime assembly lines. By war's end, the school had proved so successful that Northrop turned it into a subsidiary company with the sole function of...

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