He was born in Savigné-l'Évêque (Sarthe region, France). He became a businessman in the region of Nantes. At the end of the 1820s he decided to create a new school of engineering for the emerging industrial sector, at a time where all the leading institutions were essentially training engineers for public administration. He founded in 1829 the École centrale des arts et manufactures, now also known as the École Centrale Paris, with the help of three scientists : the chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas, the physicist Jean Claude Eugène Péclet and the mathematician Théodore Olivier. He gave the money for establishing the school in Paris and became the first president (directeur) of the institution. The first location was the Hôtel de Juigné in the Marais (now building of the Musée Picasso).
He died in Paris and is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
- "Olivier (print-only)". Groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-10.