Industrial arts education developed in Texas as a part of the national manual training movement founded jointly at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The movement was for general educational purposes; trade preparation was not a motive. Primary instructional areas were in woods, metals, and drawing. The national movement began in 1876. Isolated programs were started in Texas as early as 1884, but little is known of them. The first regular manual training program in Texas began in Austin in September 1886. John T. Allen, a prominent businessman and a bachelor, left most of his fortune to the city for a manual training school. N. S. Hunsdon of Washington University was employed as director and initiated the program, which became part of Austin High School. Hunsdon later moved to San Antonio to develop a similar program. In 1899 C. M. Woodward, a founder of the national movement, addressed the Texas legislature, which ultimately provided $500 to any school that would match the amount to start a program. A manual training society was organized in 1906 and influenced the legislature to increase the matching fund per school to $2,000. O. A. Hanszen was appointed adjunct professor of manual training at the University of Texas in 1914 to provide the state's first broad leadership and was responsible for sharing management and organization information. In 1917 the federal government passed the Smith-Hughes Act, which provided federal funds on a matching basis to prepare high school youth for employment in skilled trades. It also provided funds for a state-wide coordinator, and Hunsdon was named to this new position with the Texas Education Agency. In Texas, no distinction was made between manual training for either job preparation or for general educational purposes until 1923. At that time, trade preparatory programs were entitled Trade and Industrial Education, and the general programs were Industrial Arts, following the national trend. Also following that trend, one college (Texas A&M) was designated as the "teacher training institution" for the state and developed separate programs for each. By the late 1920s and early 1930s programs to prepare IA teachers emerged at Sam Houston, Sul Ross, East Texas, Southwest Texas, and North Texas State universities. The programs in the schools slowly became known as either T&I or IA and the term "manual training" fell into disuse.
From 1923 until 1943 the state supervisor for T&I was allowed to devote one quarter of his time to supervising IA programs. In 1943 this practice was discontinued, and IA was without state leadership. State leadership fell to the informal influences of professors such as E. L. Williams at Texas A&M, J. G. Grove at East Texas State, S. Blackburn at North Texas State, V. Smith at Sul Ross, V. Randel at Sam Houston, and H. Miles at Southwest Texas State universities. Other leaders in the field after World War II included Victor Bowers (Southwest Texas State University); Welcome Wright (East Texas State University); Earl Blanton (North Texas State University); and Alfred Gross Leepos (Texas A&I University). The first Industrial Teachers' Conference was started at Texas A&M in 1949 through such influence. It was hosted by C. H. Groneman of Texas A&M with some thirty guests invited largely from the East Texas and North Texas Industrial Arts associations. This became an annual conference and helped influence the TEA to hire a state supervisor for Industrial Arts. Rogers Barton of Texas A&M was appointed to this position in 1951. In February of 1956 the Industrial Teachers' Conference was expanded to include the newly formed Texas Industrial Arts Association. The TIAA subsequently implemented a program of regional and state level competitive project fairs to exhibit the work of students. The first state level fair was held at Texas A&M in May of 1958. Use of Texas A&M facilities was provided by Groneman and Gen. J. Earl Rudder, then president of Texas A&M and a former Brady IA teacher, from 1958 to 1968. The use of these facilities was instrumental in the success of the concept. The annual state competition was moved to Austin in 1969 and to Waco, the current site, in 1975. Typically, more than 4,000 students from more than 600 public and private schools represent nineteen active TIAA regions in the state level competitions. These secondary school students participate through the Texas chapter of the American Industrial Arts Student Association, which originated largely from a Texas student group founded by W. A. Mayfield of Synder, B. W. Mayes of Crane, and T. L. Bay of Brazosport about 1954. Mayfield succeeded Barton as state supervisor in 1966. In 1969 Mayfield accepted a university position, and Neil Ballard, an IA teacher from Abilene, assumed the role as state supervisor for IA. The position title was changed to Director of Industrial Arts in 1973.
In 1983 Industrial Arts programs in Texas enrolled more than 200,000 students in grades six through twelve. Some 1,800 teachers operated a similar number of programs grouped within visual communications, power and energy, and production technology course areas. Teachers were prepared in fifteen college or university programs in the state, and students in those programs participated in their profession through membership in the Texas College Industrial Arts Association, which is organized as a "region" of the TIAA. In 1995 TEA's supervisor of Industrial Technology was Richard Grimsley. The public schools of Texas had 2,370 teachers in the field with over 74,000 students enrolled in classes. See also VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.