Federico Santa María Technical University

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Coordinates: 33°02′06″S 71°35′42″W / 33.035021°S 71.595079°W / -33.035021; -71.595079

Federico Santa María Technical University
Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María
Motto Ex umbra in solem
Motto in English
From the shadow into the light
Established 1929
Type Private, Traditional
Rector Darcy Fuenzalida O’Shee (2014–2018)
Academic staff
Undergraduates 10,418[1]
Postgraduates 1,076[1]
Location Valparaíso, Chile
Campus Urban, 92,414 square metres (9.2414 ha) (main campus)[1]
Colors Azure, Gules and Or[2]
Nickname Sansanos
Website http://www.usm.cl
University frontis

The Federico Santa María Technical University (Spanish: Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María) (UTFSM) (or simply Santa Maria University) is a Chilean university founded in 1926 in Valparaíso, Chile. The University has campuses in Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Santiago, Talcahuano and Rancagua, as well as an international campus in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Santa María University is the alma mater of several prominent businessmen, engineers and Chilean scientists. Its students and Alumni are known as "Sansanos".

UTFSM was the first Chilean university to confer a doctorate in engineering in 1962 and the first higher-education institution in Latin America to confer this degree.[3] The university has special emphasis in basic sciences, engineering and technical fields [4] with a more recent growth into economics and business sciences.[5]

Admission is very competitive and, in general, the last selected students every year have obtained around 650 points in the national admission test (PSU), which corresponds to the best 10% of the country. Santa Maria University has been historically perceived as one of the most prestigious engineering schools in the country and more recently, with the appearance of national and international rankings, has been placed among the top Universities in Chile and South America.[6] [7]

It is ranked 1st in Chile and 2nd in South America by The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015.[8]


The university takes its name from Federico Santa María, a Chilean philanthropist that lived in France. He raised a huge fortune as a broker in the sugar market in Paris. Before his death, he donated all his fortune to create a university in Valparaíso, his hometown. Although the amount of his fortune is unknown, it is believed to have been around 2 billion dollars of today's currency. In his testament, Santa María donated his fortune with the idea of building a high-standard technical and scientific institution. This institution would accept and prepare the best students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to gain technical and scientific knowledge that contribute to the progress of the country.

Following his philosophy, on March 31, 1926, an institution was created to develop Santa María's legacy. Finally on 1931 the School of Crafts and Arts and School of Engineering José Miguel Carrera was founded. In 1935 its name changed to Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María.

The condition imposed by Federico Santa María was that, during the first 10 years, the university must receive academics from the best schools of sciences and engineering. Following this imperative, the executor of this project, Agustín Edwards McLure, moved to Germany where he contacted Dr. Karl Laudien,[9] who was the first Rector (Chancellor) of the university. From that moment, the university received a strong German engineering education. Several German engineers and scientists arrived before and after the second world war from institutions such as TU Berlin,[10] Berlin University,[11] Leipzig University [12] among other German institutions. They brought to the University cutting edge knowledge in physics, chemistry and engineering. Research in new areas such as Solar Energy,[13] or Chemistry of Natural Products (National Sciences Prize 1971 and 1998) [14][15] were created.

In 1960 the Graduate School was created. In 1962 the university became the first higher-education institution in Latin America to confer a doctorate in engineering, in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1960s the University started a strategy of national and international expansion. In 1966 the Technical campus "Viña del Mar" was founded.

In 1972 the campus "Rey Balduino de Bélgica" in the southest city of Concepción with orientation in technical-professional areas was founded. The project received strong financial support from Baudouin King.


The university has four campuses and two branch campuses (sedes). These are in four Chilean cities and Guayaquil, Ecuador:

While the campuses are focused on undergraduate, graduate and university academical activities, sedes are mainly dedicated to technical degrees.

Main Campus, Valparaíso[edit]

The main UTFSM campus (or Casa Central) is located in Valparaíso, covering most of the front area of Los Placeres hill. The site faces the Pacific coast and it is visible from many parts of the bay of Valparaíso.

The building was designed by Josué Smith Solar, one of the most respected Chilean architects of the 20th century, and his son José Smith Miller. The American Neo-Gothic style campus is considered one of the foremost works of Chilean architecture. The campus is also recognised for its beautiful gardening, with native and exotic species.[citation needed]

In 2001, the illumination of the university frontis was renewed through a contest organised by the Chilean branch of Philips.[citation needed]

The main campus has a gothic scholastic architecture with a privileged view to the Pacific Ocean. In 2008 it was chosen as one of the most remarkable national architectural works of the 20th century.[16]


Due to the focused nature of the university, its organisation does not include different faculties, only different academic departments. Within the Chilean campus level, there are 12 departments, which carry out research and graduate/undergraduate educational programs.

UTFSM is the only Chilean engineering school that includes sports as an obligatory course in the curriculum.[citation needed]

The university offers careers of Commercial Pilot and Aeronautical Engineering in its Academia de Ciencias Aeronáuticas [5] in a joint venture with Chilean airline Lan Chile.


The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. The undergraduate degrees can be of 12 academic semesters (engineering), 10 semesters (engineering, pure sciences and architecture), 8 semesters (Applied Engineering) and 6 semesters (technical careers). The graduate degrees (Masters and Doctorate) have a structure that can be described as follows: 2 years for masters of science and 3 to 5 years for Doctorate degrees.

Engineering degrees[edit]

The engineering degrees at UTFSM (and throughout Chile) are offered in different degrees of difficulty. The highest degree corresponds to 12 academic semesters..

To differentiate it from the engineering studies of 10 semesters, the degree has the suffix of Civil. For example, the degree for 12 academic semester in chemical engineering has the title of Ingeniero Civil Químico, while the degree of 10 semesters has the title of Ingeniero Químico.

Chemical Engineering[edit]

The Chemical Engineering School at UTFSM was founded together with the foundation of the School of Engineers in 1935, being one of the oldest degrees offered by the university. The first Chilean and latinamerican doctorate degree in chemical engineering was given to Walter Gaete Castro in 1962, with a cooperation between UTFSM and University of Pittsburgh, USA.[3] Nowadays, the chemical engineering department has the name of Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (IQA, in Spanish), where Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering degrees are offered. The research topics at IQA are:

  • Design of industrial processes
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Food Science and Bioprocesses
  • Minerals Processing
  • Automation and process control

The Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering has 12 associate professors, 11 with PhD degrees. The department offers the graduate programs of Master of Science and PhD in Chemical Engineering.


Since 2010 UTFSM has been awarded with nearly US$8 million for 76 research projects.[17][18][19] Many of these projects involve national and international collaborations with prestigious institutions in Latin America (ANDES Laboratory Project, RIABIN Biotechnology Network), Europe (CERN, Max Planck Institut, Politecnico di Milano), and USA (MIT, SLAC), among others.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

National and International Rankings[edit]

For 10 consecutive years, UTFSM has been ranked among the three best Universities in Chile in terms of quality perception given by more than 1000 important national business executives.[29][30] In 2012, the University was ranked 5 between 9.500 schools of engineering in the world according to their impact factor in the last 5 years (Microsoft Academics),[31] as the latinoamerican university with the largest normalized impact factor, and as the first school of engineering in South America.[32] According to Times Higher Education Ranking 2014, UTFSM is among the first 300 best Universities in the World, 2nd in South America and 1st in Chile.[33][34]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María – Ingeniería en Chile". Utfsm.cl. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  2. ^ http://www.dgc.usm.cl/wp-content/themes/wp-dgc/docs/manual_identidad.pdf
  3. ^ a b http://www.bib.utfsm.cl/nuevositio/attachments/087_80%20a%C3%B1os%20de%20universidad.pdf Reseña Histórica – Biblioteca UTFSM
  4. ^ http://www.usm.cl/admision/carreras/
  5. ^ http://rankings.americaeconomia.com/mba2014/ranking-mba-latino-2014/
  6. ^ =http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2014-15/world-ranking/region/south-america
  7. ^ ="http://www.quepasa.cl/articulo/ojos-de-la-llave/2014/12/17-15854-9-ranking-de-universidades-2014.shtml
  8. ^ =http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2014-15/world-ranking/region/south-america
  9. ^ http://sansanos.us/pictures/Profesores/KarlLaudien.html
  10. ^ http://sansanos.us/pictures/Profesores/GuillermoFeick.html
  11. ^ a b http://sansanos.us/pictures/Profesores/Dr.RobertoFrucht.html
  12. ^ http://sansanos.us/pictures/Profesores/HerbertAppel.html
  13. ^ http://energiasolar.mec.utfsm.cl/index.php/quienes-somos.html
  14. ^ http://www.explora.cl/2013-10-16-17-40-34/premios-nacionales/naturaleza-premios/quimica-premios/833-inspirate-premios-nacionales-naturaleza-quimica
  15. ^ http://w1.conicyt.cl/premios/naturales/jGarbarino.html
  16. ^ http://www.dgc.usm.cl/2008/12/29/casa-central-elegida-una-de-las-grandes-construcciones-del-siglo-xx/ Casa Central elegida una de las grandes construcciones del Siglo XX
  17. ^ http://noticias.universia.cl/ciencia-nn-tt/noticia/2010/12/28/774859/universidad-santa-maria-adjudica-17-proyectos-fondecyt.html Universidad Santa María se adjudica 17 Proyectos Fondecyt
  18. ^ http://www.dgc.usm.cl/2012/02/12/universidad-santa-maria-se-adjudica-23-proyectos-fondecyt/ Universidad Santa María se adjudica 23 Proyectos Fondecyt
  19. ^ http://latercera.com/contenido/676_219429_9.shtml
  20. ^ http://riabin.bioplantas.cu/
  21. ^ http://www-de.mpimp-golm.mpg.de/pdf/pm/PM-2010-05-17.pdf
  22. ^ http://profesores.elo.utfsm.cl/~mzanartu/Documents/Mehta_2012_IEEE_TBME_VHM_accepted.pdf
  23. ^ http://international-relations.web.cern.ch/International-Relations/nms/chile.html
  24. ^ http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/tip/archives/TIP2_96.pdf
  25. ^ http://www.3ie.cl/pages/show/alianzas-estrategicas
  26. ^ http://accordi-internazionali.cineca.it/accordi.php?continenti=AM&paesi=%&univ_stran=%&univ_ita=16&anni=%&durata=&tipologia=%&natura=%&denominazione=&btnSubmit=Cerca&pag=2
  27. ^ http://blueskysunshine.org/blog/?p=3557#axzz22cNE2mw1
  28. ^ http://andeslab.org/talk/andes-aspera.pdf
  29. ^ http://www.dgc.usm.cl/2010/12/03/usm-tercer-lugar-en-encuesta-de-percepcion-de-calidad-2010/
  30. ^ http://www.quepasa.cl/articulo/ojos-de-la-llave/2014/12/17-15854-9-ranking-de-universidades-2014.shtml
  31. ^ http://academic.research.microsoft.com/RankList?entitytype=7&topdomainid=8&subdomainid=0&last=5
  32. ^ http://www.scimagoir.com/ Ibero-American Ranking
  33. ^ http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional/2014/10/13/684815/ranking-times-higher-education-usm-es-la-unica-universidad-chilena-entre-las-mejores-del-mundo.html
  34. ^ http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2014-15/world-ranking/region/south-america
  35. ^ https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/dean_faculty/facmeetings/memorialminutes#Breusch
  36. ^ http://w1.conicyt.cl/premios/exactas/mKiwi.html

External links[edit]