Mechanic to Millionaire: The Peter Cooper Story

June 01, 2009

Janet Gardner (A’65), producer, writer and director of The Gardner Documentary Group is co-producing Mechanic to Millionaire: The Peter Cooper Story, a documentary about one of the 19th century’s greatest leaders during the Industrial Revolution.

Best remembered for his contributions to education, the documentary is divided into three main parts of Cooper’s life: Getting a Start, Making a Fortune and DoingGood. Distinguished Cooper Union faculty, graduates, administrators and President George Campbell Jr. participated in the film’s creation. The National Endowment for the Humanities recognized the film as aWe The People Project for promoting knowledge and understanding of American history and culture.

It is scheduled for national public broadcas and will preview in The Great Hall of The Cooper Union on September 25.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.