The first classes at Montgomery Preparatory School in Fayette County began on January 4, 1897. It was established due to the lack of high schools in the area. Previously, most students in that region had to end their formal educations after eighth grade, or even earlier.
By World War I, there was less need for a preparatory school since many high schools had been recently established. In 1917, an attempt at converting it to a vocational school failed.
In 1921, the school became a junior college, known as New River State, and grew rapidly. In 1941, it was renamed the West Virginia Institute of Technology—or West Virginia Tech. In the decades following World War II, Tech became one of the most respected engineering schools in the eastern United States, with many graduates moving into the West Virginia coal and chemical industries.
Enrollment declined in the late 20th century as southern West Virginia lost population. The school merged with WVU in 1996 and became a division of the university in 2007. In 2015, the decision was made to relocate the WVU Institute of Technology to Beckley.