History of the Technical University of Munich
Ever since its founding in 1868, our university has been at the forefront of innovation. Scientists today have the same goal as their 19th century counterparts: finding solutions to the major challenges facing society as we move forward.
Curiosity and an entrepreneurial spirit have been at the heart of TUM for more than 150 years. From the first viable refrigerator to robots capable of feeling to the sandwich molecule – researchers have made numerous inventions and discoveries during that period that still shape our lives today.
In its capacity as an academic stronghold of technology and science, the Technische Universität München (TUM) has played a vital role in Bavaria's transition from an agricultural state to an industrial state and Hi-Tech centre. Even to the present day, it is still the only state technical university. Numerous excellent TUM professors have secured their place in the history of technology, many important scientists, architects, engineers and entrepreneurs studied there. Such names as Karl Max von Bauernfeind, Rudolf Diesel, Claude Dornier, Walther von Dyck, Hans Fischer (Nobel prize for Chemistry 1930), Ernst Otto Fischer (Nobel prize for Chemistry 1973), August Föppl, Robert Huber (Nobel prize for Chemistry 1988), Carl von Linde, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, Walther Meissner, Rudolf Mössbauer (1961 Nobel prize for Physics), Willy Messerschmitt, Wilhelm Nusselt, Hans Piloty, Friedrich von Thiersch, Franz von Soxhlet are closely connected with the TUM.
The prerequisites for an academic training in engineering were created at the start of the 19th century when the advancement of technology on the basis of exact sciences commenced. There were also calls for a 'university for all technical studies' in Bavaria. The 'polytechnic schools' set up in Augsburg, Munich and Nuremberg, which bridged the gap between middle schools and higher education colleges in their capacity as 'lyceums' (or high schools), were the first approach. For further qualification purposes, a 'technical college' was set up in 1833 as part of the Faculty of State Finance (Staatswirtschaftlichen Fakultät) of the Ludwig Maximilian University, which had been transferred from Landshut to Munich seven years previously. The experiment failed. Instead, an advanced 'engineering course' was established at the Polytechnic School Munich in 1840, which was the forerunner of what was later to become the 'Technische Hochschule München'.
In 1868 King Ludwig II founded the newly structured Polytechnische Schule München, which had the status of a university, in Munich. It was allowed to call itself 'Technische Hochschule' as from the academic year 1877/78. The first Principal was the former Head of the Engineering Course, Karl Max von Bauernfeind. In the year of its foundation, the college took up residence in the new building in Arcisstrasse which was designed by Gottfried v. Neureuther. In those days, more than 350 students were taught by 24 professors and 21 lecturers. The college was divided into five sections: I. General Department (Mathematics, Natural Science, Humanities, Law and Economics), II. Engineering Department (Structural Engineering and Surveying), III. Department of Architecture, IV. Mechanical/Technical Department, V. Chemical/Technical Department. Department VI. (Agriculture) was added in 1872.
Two of the university's long-standing requests were met by the State after the turn of the century: it was granted the right to award doctorates in 1901, and in 1902 the election of the Principal by the teaching staff was approved. With an average of about 2,600 to 2,800 students, the TH München ranked ahead of the TH Berlin as the largest German Technical College for a while. The first female undergraduate matriculated in architecture in 1905, after the Bavarian government officially allowed women to study at a technical college in the German Reich. However the proportion of female students remained negligible; women accounted for just 0.6 per cent of the student body in the winter semester of 1913/14.
During the Weimar Republic, the TH München was obliged to make due with low funds and was drawn into radical political struggles in 1918/19 and again between 1928 and 1933. In the winter term of 1930/31 the National Socialist German Student Union (NSDStB) became the strongest group within the AStA general student organisation of the THM for the first time.
The TH München was able to broaden its spectrum of subjects by taking over several smaller colleges that were no longer viable. In 1922, the former commercial college 'Handelshochschule München' became the VII Department of Economics. The former College of Agriculture and Brewing in Weihenstephan was integrated in 1930. Its agricultural unit was absorbed into the Department of Agriculture – which was located in Munich until 1947 before transferring toWeihenstephan, while the brewing section became Department VIII 'Brewing Technology' belonging to the TH München yet located in Weihenstephan. The tradition of the Weihenstephan campus dates back to the agricultural school founded in 1804, which was elevated to the status of an academy in 1895 and a university in 1920.
The eight departments of the TH München were reorganised into six faculties in 1934. This was reduced to five (General Sciences, Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Agriculture, Brewing) in1940.
During the Third Reich, the 'leadership principle' was imposed on the TH München. Its autonomy suffered considerable restrictions which affected such matters as the appointment procedure (for lecturers), etc. Based on the newly introduced 'Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service', lecturers of non-Aryan descent or those who were married to 'non-Aryans' were removed by the State, likewise politically 'undesirable' professors. The National Socialist German Student Union (NSDStB) and the like-minded German Students' Association (Deutsche Studentenschaft) endeavoured to organise and influence the undergraduates with their radical national socialist doctrine.
Similar organisations were in place on the lecturers' level. Jewish students no longer enjoyed the same rights and were barred from matriculation from 1938 onwards. The TH München was required to contribute towards the Second World War effort with large-scale armament research. However, top-level basic research was still conducted in numerous institutes. The attitude of the university professors was characterised by opportunistic conformance on the one hand, and critical distancing and inner emigration on the other. A number of individual professors, employees, workers and students dared to demonstrate disobedience and obstruction.
It was under the hardest possible conditions that teaching activities recommenced in April 1946. 80% of the buildings on the main campus had been bombed. For many years, undergraduates actively supported the rebuilding of their university by providing hands-on (voluntary) restoration service. The Department of Economics had to be surrendered to the Ludwig Maximilian University in 1946.
With the internationally acclaimed installation of the Research Reactor Munich (FRM) in Garching in 1956/57, the TH München gained third location. The Physics Department building was opened there in 1969, followed by the new building for housing the departments of Chemistry, Biology and Geoscience in 1977.
In December 1957, the university was granted its long-standing request to acquire the status of a 'public legal body'. In the following year, the first constitution drawn up by the university itself came into force. From the 1960s onwards, the university had to cope with an enormous influx of students. When the first economising measures were introduced by the State in the mid-Seventies, the conditions for students began to deteriorate.
A Faculty for Medicine spanning two sites: Munich-Haidhausen (Clinic 'right of the Isar') and Munich-Schwabing (Biederstein, Children's Clinic at Schwabing Hospital) was founded in 1967.
The university's 100th anniversary fell in the 'hot May' of 1968. Critical tendencies were also in evidence at the TH München, particularly in the Departments of Architecture, Geography, Medicine and Social Sciences. In the 100th year since its foundation, the TH München comprised six faculties, 168 chairs and institutes, about 8,400 undergraduates and somewhere in the region of 5,700 university staff, who were employed in teaching, research, running operations and administration. In 1972, a sports centre with a 'central sports ground' covering an area of 45 hectares, that had previously been used for the Olympic Games was set up in the grounds of the Olympic stadion.
The new designation of 'Technische Universität München' was conferred in August 1970. With the introduction of the Bavarian Higher Education Law in 1974, the six faculties were replaced by eleven smaller departments, which soon resumed the designation of Faculties: 1. Mathematics and Informatics, 2. Physics, 3. Chemistry, Biology and Geoscience, 4. Economics and Social Sciences, 5. Structural Engineering and Surveying, 6. Architecture, 7. Mechanical Engineering, 8. Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, 9. Agriculture and Horticulture, 10. Brewing, Food Technology and Dairy Science, 11. Medicine. In addition, several interdisciplinary central institutes were established, initially for regional planning and environmental research, as well as sports sciences. The 'regulated student organisation' was abolished in Bavaria and replaced by structures of student involvement within the context of the newly introduced group representation concept.
Numerous other reform procedures have been realised since 1995 under the auspices of TUM's president, Wolfgang A. Herrmann, such as the introduction of efficient guidance and decision profiles, the resolute expansion of the university's autonomy in keeping with the new philosophy of an 'entrepreneurial university', university-wide core competences in the field of informatics, the establishment of central institutes and research platforms with an interdisciplinary focus, the introduction of numerous, attractive Bachelor/Masters degree courses, strategic internationalisation, enhanced collaboration with industrial and social partners, stepping up professional fundraising, the inauguration of the Carl-von-Linde Academy to house the Humanities, Cultural and Social Studies.
In 2002, the TUM initiated the setting-up of the very first subsidiary of a German university abroad with its 'German Institute of Science and Technology' (GIST) in Singapore.
The commissioning of the new 'Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Research Reactor Munich' (FRM-II) in 2004 heralded in a new era of neutron research with lots of promising applications in the fields of science, technology and medicine. The high-flux Neutron Source has served to place the TUM among the world's leaders in terms of scientific and technical research.
In the summer semester 2010, the TUM comprises thirteen faculties with more than 25,000 students (about 20 per cent of whom come from abroad), just under 460 professors of both sexes and roughly 8,500 members of staff.
Established in 2005, the TUM Institute for Advanced Study (TUM-IAS) bundles TUM’s research efforts in 15 specially selected areas positioned at the cutting edge of modern science. The TUM-IAS was set up to give top researchers at the university academic freedom; synergize knowledge across engineering, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine; integrate international fellows into the university’s research spectrum; and introduce outstanding students to research work as soon as possible after commencing their degree courses.
In 1992, a twelfth department 'Informatics' was created by splitting the former Department of Mathematics and Informatics into two. Ten years later, a Department of Sports Science and a School of Management were set up. The latter incorporated the former 'Faculty of Economics and Social Science. The Mechanical Engineering department and the Departments of Mathematics and Informatics moved from the main Munich campus to the spacious, well-equipped new buildings in Garching in 1997 and 2002 respectively.
The Weihenstephan campus was restructured for the start of the winter semester 2000/01 and realigned along scientific lines: the former Departments of Agriculture and Horticulture, Brewing, Food Technology and Dairy Science, as well as the Forestry department that previously belonged to the Ludwig Maximilian University, were collectively accommodated in the newly established Weihenstephan Science Centre for Life&Food Sciences, Land Use and Environment (WZW).
In 2017, the TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability became the fourth main location of the university, joining Munich, Garching and Freising-Weihenstephan.
In 2006, the German Council of Science and Humanities (WR) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) selected TUM as a “University of Excellence” for its forward-looking strategy TUM. The Entrepreneurial University. TUM’s International Graduate School of Science and Engineering (IGSSE) and the Clusters of Excellence Cognition for Technical Systems (CoTeSys) and Origin and Structure of the Universe have also been selected for funding.
In a move that shows they believe in Technische Universität München and indicates that the spirit of philanthropy is beginning to take hold in German academia, benefactors and patrons joined forces to set up the TUM University Foundation on July 22, 2010. The TUM University Foundation shapes the alliance between the state and society using a first-class university as an example.
TUM retained its titel as University of Excellence in the second round of the Excellence Initiative in 2012, when its institutional strategy was approved together with its Tenure Track career system for young scientists – the first of its kind in Germany. In fall 2018, TUM got off to a strong start in the new excellence competition run by the German Government and the federal states, when an international expert committee selected four new research clusters. In 2019, the university secured the title "University of Excellence" for the third time in succession with its institutional strategy and reform program TUM Agenda 2030.