On September 10, 1874 Chauncey Rose formed a corporation called the Terre Haute School of Industrial Science. On September 11, 1875 the Board of Managers changed the name of the school to Rose Polytechnic Institute.
After hosting a unit of the Student Army Training Corps and playing an active role in training engineers and mechanics for the Army during World War I, Rose Polytechnic Institute was authorized to have an ROTC Engineer unit in 1919. The unit was organized by Captain William D. Weidlein, Corps of Engineers, in March 1919. Initial enrollment was 111 cadets, of which all but eight had been in the Student Army Training Corps.
On 8 June 1922, Charles D. Baker and Leroy A. Wilson became the first graduates of the ROTC unit at Rose Polytechnic Institute to receive commissions into the Engineer Reserve Corps as Second Lieutenants.
Graduation was advanced to 9 May in 1942 so that ROTC graduates could take their oath of office and enter military service earlier than usual. During World War II ROTC at Rose Polytechnic Institute was supplemented by an Army Specialized Training Unit.
During the post war period of 1946-1950 the college graduated seniors and took in freshman every quarter. This increased the college enrollment, but ROTC enrollment was the lowest in the detachment's history during this period because most students were veterans.
Indiana State University was contracted for cross-enrollment in 1967. ROTC was added at DePauw by cross-enrollment in 1974 and at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Vincennes University in 1976 and University of Southern Indiana in 2004.