Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich

Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich. It is a public university in Switzerland. Its renown is due to the many scientists who have passed through its classrooms and laboratories, twenty-one Nobel laureates in its more than one hundred and fifty years of existence; among the most famous is Albert Einstein.

Historical review

Since the time of the Helvetic Republic, the idea of ​​a national university had been debated throughout Switzerland, but internal fights prevented its realization for a long time. While the Helvetic Republic was transforming into the Helvetic Confederation, of federal government, the voices that asked for a university were heard again and after long debates, on February 7, 1854, the Swiss federal council signed the law for the creation of a school federal polytechnic (“Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule”) in conjunction with a school for exact, political and human sciences.

The new institution wanted to provide theoretical and practical knowledge in line with the industrial revolution in Europe at the time. Thanks to the pleasant climate at ETH-Z, many students from all over Europe entered, as did renowned scientists such as Kinkel, de Sanctis, Cherbuliez, Clausius, Reuleaux and Semper.

Along with the growing federation, the ETH-Z began its construction process. At this time the main building (Hauptgebäude) was built, which was designed by Semper, in addition to his machine laboratory, the chemistry and physics building. Student associations, departments of agriculture and military sciences were founded.

This era is marked by changes within the institution. Since 1904 the debate began around the change of name, from Polytechnikum to Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, according to the changes that were being made by German educational institutions. This change was effective in 1911. In these years, the ETH began its process of separating itself from other federal institutions, both from the University of Zurich and from the canton and the city of Zurich. Today the name is according to what this university offers.

In addition to the change in name, in 1908, the institution began the process of restructuring both the subjects and the teaching system according to what the time required. In 1909, the first doctoral degrees were awarded to six in the area of ​​chemistry, two in mechanical engineering and one in natural sciences.

The university began to work with academic autonomy but cooperatively with the canton of Zurich. This formula served him to achieve the desired objectives, theoretical formulation and controlled experimentation of the experiments. Thus, after the First World War, the creation of institutes with mixed financing within the institution was consolidated. Over time, the university focused on national information roles. In both industry and science, ETH was beginning to be a benchmark in terms of the paths to be addressed.

In terms of infrastructure, the laboratories continued to be built. In 1929 the Water and Hydrology Laboratory was created, in 1933 the Institute of Experimental Physics, in 1937 the Institute of Industrial Development, with which it was noted that the university required a larger place to continue its expansion, which ended in 1961 with the start of work on the first stage of its new campus on the outskirts of Zurich, in the Hönggerberg sector. For this, the creation of the Swiss National Science Foundation was achieved in 1952, which was in charge of obtaining the necessary funds. In 1954 444 million Swiss francs had already been raised for the expansion.

This short period was involved in a series of disputes over the intention of implementing new regulations and laws at the university. In 1968 the new laws for the ETH were passed but the students themselves in a referendum voted against their implementation. In 1969, its sister university École Polytechnique Universitaire de Lausanne also became the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne.

Like the rest of the world, universities at this time had to evolve according to growing technological innovation to become technology generators and not just simple consumers. Therefore, at this time, ETH had to make its research programs more flexible in order to achieve the necessary technological advances and for that they managed to achieve strategic alliances with several important companies.

Thanks to this, in the 1980s they promoted the creation of new departments as well as new careers such as computer science, materials science and environmental science. From then on, the university, which already had a great prestige, continued its path accompanied by the scientific advancement and innovation required to become a leading university.

In recent years, ETH has met various quality standards that both the Swiss federal government and the European Union and first world countries have required; One of these examples is that it had to carry out the reform approved in the Bologna Process. The degrees awarded in its teaching levels as well as its scientific and technological advances always carry the quality that the university has earned. In the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 the ranking of world universities awarded it 27th place, being the fifth best university in Europe and the best university in its country.

In 2005, at the 150th anniversary of its founding, the festivities did not stop. In addition, a great visionary project has been launched, Science City, which aims to turn its campus in Hönggerberg into a scientific city where students and teachers can carry out all their activities without leaving this university city.

Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich