History of EPFL

Evolution of the university campus

Discover the evolution of the campus over time through SwissTopo (click on the image):


On November 7, the first eleven students started a two-year curriculum at the Ecole Spéciale de Lausanne.  

At that time, the curriculum included various subjects: chemistry, physics, mathematics, drawing, architecture, and civil engineering. The Ecole Spéciale de Lausanne was a private initiative inspired from the Ecole Central de Paris.Students were trained to become high level builders. The first five students graduated in 1855.

The School was affiliated to the Académie de Lausanne and became the Technical Faculty of the Académie de Lausanne.

In 1890, two major events once again marked its fate: first the Academy was transformed into a University. Its Technical Faculty then became known as the Ecole d’ingénieurs de l’Université de Lausanne (Engineering School of the University of Lausanne). Secondly, a new training programme was born: Electricity. A Programme which will give birth to many research areas and sections a few decades later.

The School celebrated its first jubilee. At that time, it had 132 students and 24 professors and had the reputation of being very selective.

The School relocated to a large building, the former Hotel Savoy in Avenue de Cour.

Less than two years later, it again changed names to become the Ecole polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne, in other words EPUL, an acronym which will remain for a long time. Simultaneously, the Physics section was created.

The Institution celebrated its hundredth anniversary with 45 professors, privat-docent (private lecturers) and lecturers while the student enrolment was around 500.

On the 9th of October 1968, the National Council unanimously adopted the new “Law on Federal Institutes of Technology”.

The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) was officially founded on 1 January 1969. The Confederation started the transfer – that will last twenty five years – of the entire institution to a new location, in Ecublens-Dorigny.

EPFL celebrated not only its 125 years of existence, but also inaugurated the first buildings of its new campus. The construction site will continue for several decades.

In order to foster technology transfer and the creation of companies, the PSE Foundation of the Science Park was created on the EPFL campus.

In the following years, the Science Park hosted dozens of companies in three buildings. This initiative considerably helped the whole area, and especially EPFL and University of Lausanne researchers.

The architecture section was created. From this year on, all of EPFL is in one location.

The Confederation had kept its promise: the SVS program, with the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne became a reality as the chemistry entire section was in one location only.

EPFL changed its structure. Its departments gave way to big schools (facultés) to strengthen trans-disciplinary collaboration.

The School of Life Sciences was created along with a College of Humanities, the latter in collaboration with both the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva.

Celebration of the 150th anniversary. More than 6000 students are studying at EPFL.  

Creation of Microcity in Neuchâtel

Inauguration du Rolex Learning Center

EPFL Valais Wallis and EPFL Fribourg founded.

Campus Biotech founded in Geneva.

The EPFL passes the 10’000 studens mark.