In this article the authors analyze the history of engineering education in Colombia from 1887 to 1972. The main theme of the analysis is how engineering educators actively contribute to the shaping of the identity of their profession in response to different societal influences in the forms of codes of meaning. The authors pay especial attention to the role of foreign models of educating engineers and the regional tensions that emerge between competing schools in the country. These two tensions are related to the different ideals or metrics of progress advocated by government officials, politicians, industrialists, and engineering educators themselves in various cities of the country. As the twentieth century passes its midpoint the code of meaning of the discourse on development becomes the main influence shaping the identities of engineers in Colombia.