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UET was established in 1921 in Mughalpura, a suburban area of Lahore, as Mughalpura Technical College. In 1923, the name was changed to Maclagan Engineering College to honor Sir Edward Maclagan, the then Governor of the Punjab, who laid the foundation stone of the building.
In 1932 the institution became affiliated with the University of the Punjab for award of bachelor’s degree in Engineering. At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, it offered Bachelor of Science courses in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering.
In 1954, bachelor’s degree program in Mining Engineering was started. In 1961, it was again renamed as West Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology. During the 1960s, bachelor’s degree courses were started in Chemical Engineering, Petroleum and Gas Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, Architecture, and City and Regional Planning. By the 1970s it had established over a score of master’s degree courses in engineering, architecture, planning and allied disciplines. PhD degree programs were also started.