Technische Universität Darmstadt

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Technische Universität Darmstadt
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Logo of Technische Universität Darmstadt
Former names
Technische Hochschule Darmstadt
Type Public
Established 1877[1]
Budget € 451.9 million[2]
President Hans Jürgen Prömel[de][3]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 26,360[2]
Location Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany
49°52′30″N 8°39′23″E / 49.874995°N 8.656517°E / 49.874995; 8.656517 (Technische Universität Darmstadt)Coordinates: 49°52′30″N 8°39′23″E / 49.874995°N 8.656517°E / 49.874995; 8.656517 (Technische Universität Darmstadt) (inner city)49°51′40″N 8°40′50″E / 49.86113°N 8.68056°E / 49.86113; 8.68056 (Technische Universität Darmstadt) (Lichtwiese)
Campus Urban/Suburban

The Technische Universität Darmstadt (unofficially Technical University of Darmstadt or Darmstadt University of Technology), commonly referred to as TU Darmstadt, is a research university in the city of Darmstadt, Germany. It was founded in 1877 and received the right to award doctorates in 1899. In 1882 it was the first university in the world to set up a chair in electrical engineering, and founded the first faculty for it in 1883.[4]

TU Darmstadt is a member of TU9, a network of the most notable German Technische Universitäten (universities of technology).[5]


On 10 October 1877 Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, elevated the Polytechnische Schule to Technische Hochschule zu Darmstadt and thereby raised the status of this educational institution to that of a university so that the Abitur (a school leaving certificate from German Gymnasium schools qualifying for university admission or matriculation) became a requirement for admissions. In 1899 the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt was granted the right to award doctorates.[6]

Early beginnings[edit]

The University's history is varied: its early phases began with the Höhere Gewerbschule (Higher Trade School), which was founded in 1836 and received its own building near the 'Altes Pädagog' on Kapellplatz in 1844, followed by the Technische Schule (Technical School) in 1864 and the Großherzoglich Hessische Polytechnische Schule (Grand Ducal Hessian Polytechnic) in 1868. At that time, heated discussions were continually held in political circles on the issue as to whether such a poor state as the Grand Duchy of Hessen could afford a technically oriented higher educational institution, or even a polytechnic. After the foundation of Technische Hochschule Darmstadt in 1877, student numbers kept on being so low that in the years from 1881 to 1882 there were long debates in public about closing down the University. In this difficult situation, the local government and the University made the courageous decision to set up the first chair of electrical engineering worldwide. Thus the Faculty of Electrical Engineering came into being as the sixth faculty of the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, which was a novelty in academia, because until then no other university had had such a faculty. This forward-looking higher education policy paved the way for Darmstadt to take up a leading position in the rapidly developing field of electrical engineering, which in turn led to a continuously rising number of students, so that the closure of the university never was demanded again.

First steps as a university[edit]

In 1895 new buildings were opened in Hochschulstrasse: the Altes Hauptgebäude (the 'Old Main Building' of the University) and an institute building directly opposite. During the two decades before the World War I, all disciplines of the university underwent diversification and expansion. New disciplines such as paper making and cellulose chemistry were introduced, and as early as 1913 a Chair of Aeronautics and Flight Mechanics was set up.

Meanwhile, the political climate had become stormier, and a growing political polarization exploded in Darmstadt over the question of foreign students. The Technische Hochschule Darmstadt had an extraordinarily large number of foreign students. In 1906, for instance, as many as three quarters of the electrical engineering students were from abroad, mainly from states of eastern Europe.

After the World War I there was an urgent need for reform of the education system at Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, which was seen as a prerequisite for meeting the requirements of a modern industrial society. Intense discussions were held on the aim of extending the curriculum beyond the purely technical education in order to prepare the engineer for his leading role in society. A concrete step in this direction was taken in 1924, when the 'General Faculty', which until then had combined all the non-technical subjects, was divided into a Department of Mathematics and Natural Science and a Department of Cultural Studies and Political Science. Moreover, the measures taken to provide students with knowledge outside their own field of study included the upgrading of Economics and the creation of professorships in political science, history of technology and sociology.

Restart after WW II[edit]

Eagle above the rear main entry to the Robert Piloty Building, nowadays home to the Department of Computer Science. Note the effaced swastika under the eagle

On the night of 11/12 September 1944, eighty per cent of the city, including many of the university's buildings, were destroyed during a bomb attack. For a short period in 1945 parts of the TH Darmstadt may have been closed by decree of the Allies before it was reopened in 1946. The electrical engineering department remained continuously functional, doing work under contract with the U.S. Army to build components of the V-2 guidance system. "But we have to be careful how we word this production order because we don't want the Russians to know that we are cranking up the V-2 system."[7] In spite of the difficult post-war situation, university staff and students alike managed to settle down to university work in the severely damaged buildings, which had to be used as a makeshift solution.

As early as 1947, Technische Hochschule Darmstadt hosted the first Internationaler Kongress für Ingenieurausbildung (International Congress on Engineering Education), at which the participants discussed the moral responsibility of the technical intelligentsia and of the scientific elite in politics and society. In view of the disastrous consequences of the war, the participants (with the exception of the Americans, who had already contracted with THD faculty to continue weapon development), committed themselves henceforth to do research and teaching in engineering and scientific disciplines solely for the peaceful development of mankind.

   1. Technical Science as Ethical and Cultural Task.
   2. Present State and Tendencies of Development in Engineering Education Throughout the World.
   3. Selection of Students and Social Problems.[8]

The speech delivered by Dr. James R. Newman, Director of American Military Government of Hessen, however, made no mention of such a commitment, while stating that:

"An interchange of these [past experience], together with ideas and methods of education along engineering lines, will aid greatly, not only in the reconstruction of battle torn countries, but also in the bringing about of a universal understanding and mutual respect, and the charity which have prevented the understanding, the tolerance, the respect, and the charity so necessary for the peace, happiness, and contentment that is the dream of every human being on this earth."[9]

The post-war period of reconstruction was largely based on a major development programme in the 1960s, by means of which universities and the state reacted to the continuously rising numbers of students. Since almost no land was available in the city centre for new construction projects, the decision was taken in 1963 to use the 'Lichtwiese' (a former airfield on the outskirts of the city) as a site for building extensions to the Technische Hochschule. Thus in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s numerous buildings, including a new student cafeteria, were erected there and ultimately became the university's second campus.

University reforms in the 1970s[edit]

After 1968 the university reform, having been initiated by the student movement, was beginning to take shape both at a national and a regional level. It aimed at creating clear university structures and the involvement of all university members in decision-making processes. In 1970 the Hessisches Hochschulgesetz (Higher Education Law of the Federal State of Hessen) came into force. These gave Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, along with other Hessian universities, a new structure based on the introduction of a presidential statute and a unified administration as well as the subdivision of the university structure into departments.

In the mid 1970s there was another rapid rise in student numbers. Staff development, however, lagged far behind, resulting in inevitable restrictions on admission imposed either by the central government or by the University. Regardless of the staff's heavy workload, the TH Darmstadt managed to set the course for the future, as evidenced by the School of Information Science, established in 1974, the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Technikforschung (Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Technology), founded in 1987, and the Department of Materials Science, established in 1989. This department has been housed in a new building on the Lichtwiese since 1996.


By the end of the 20th century, Technische Hochschule Darmstadt had been granted the legal status of a university, and had been offering a correspondingly wide range of subjects, for over a hundred years. For these reasons, and also with the objective of sharpening public awareness of the university's status at home and abroad, Technische Hochschule Darmstadt was renamed Technische Universität Darmstadt (which is also its official English name albeit often called Darmstadt University of Technology) on 1 October 1997. This name change was partly prompted by misunderstandings that had occurred in English-speaking countries, where Technische Hochschule had often been mistakenly transliterated as 'Technical High School', providing a totally misleading connotation.

Autonomy and TUD Law[edit]

On 1 January 2005 the first version of the TUD Law applied making TU Darmstadt the first German public university to be given administrative autonomy. New administrative structures were put into place, and their success is being evaluated. For instance, the university can now autonomously administer its budget and buildings. Also, the university can hire professors and negotiate their salaries by itself. Formerly this was done by the State of Hessen. The TUD law in its current state has legal force up to 31. December 2014.[10]


The University, with 140 Buildings and an area of property of 600 acres (2.4 km2),[2] is concentrated at the two campuses, Inner City and Lichtwiese. But individual facilities can be found in other parts of Darmstadt and in Griesheim, a neighboring town.[11]

The main library is located in the inner city campus, between the old main building and the cafeteria

Inner City Campus[edit]

This campus lies very central in Darmstadt and is easily reachable by tram and bus from every part of the city. The departments located here are Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (18), History and Social Sciences (2), Human Sciences (3), Computer Science (20), Mathematics (4), Physics (5) and Law and Economics (1).[12]

Campus Lichtwiese[edit]

The Lichtwiese lies in the eastern part of Darmstadt. It is reachable by bus and a nearby train station. The departments located here are Architecture (15), Civil Engineering and Geodesy (13), Chemistry (7), Mechanical Engineering (16) and Materials and Earth Sciences (11).[13]

Botanical garden[edit]

The Botanical Garden of the TU Darmstadt is located near the Lichtwiese Campus and the Department of Biology (10) is located here as well. With additional buildings of the Department of the Materials and Earth Sciences (11)[14] and parts of the faculty of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology of the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da)[15] it makes for an additional smaller campus.


Since 2005, TU Darmstadt owns the August Euler Airfield for scientific purposes. It is named after its founder August Euler, a pioneer aviator.[16] The airfield is not only used to start planes, but also to conduct research on topics where wide spaces are needed, for example driver assistance systems and automotive lighting are being tested here.[17] Located near the airfield are the wind tunnels of TU Darmstadt.[18]

Academic profile[edit]

Research projects at the University are initiated and financed to a large extent by industrial and commercial concerns.[citation needed] Moreover, the University's successful collaboration with local companies is also based on a twofold strategy: the appointment of distinguished scientists and engineers to the post of professor at the University and the University's commitment to management development in companies.[citation needed]

The University offers a wide range of subjects, not only in the traditional fields of natural and engineering sciences, but also in those of social and human sciences, which was one of the main reasons for renaming the university from Technische Hochschule to Technische Universität in the autumn of 1997.[citation needed] The subjects of these major areas of human knowledge add to the teacher training for the teaching profession both at secondary schools and vocational schools. The creation of new degree courses leading to bachelor's and master's degrees is also based on these academic standards and follows the European standardization of academic education.

Faculties and fields of study[edit]

There are 13 departments and 5 fields of study (Studienbereiche), which offer interdisciplinary degree courses in which students take lectures in multiple departments.[19] which all together offer about 100 courses of studies.[2] The University, as its title suggests, offers degree courses in the fields of electrical, mechanical and civil engineering, architecture, computer science, mathematics and the natural sciences. It also offers courses in economics, law, history, politics, sociology, psychology, sport science and linguistics (This list is not intended to be exhaustive). It also offers degree courses for teaching positions at German vocational schools[20] and gymnasiums.[21]

The Departments (with number of the department):[19]

  • Architecture (15)
  • Civil Engineering and Geodesy (13)
  • Biology (10)
  • Chemistry (7)
  • Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (18)
  • History and Social Sciences (2)
  • Human Sciences (3)
  • Computer Science (20)
  • Mechanical Engineering (16)
  • Materials and Earth Sciences (11)
  • Mathematics (4)
  • Physics (5)
  • Law and Economics (1)

Fields of Study:[19]

  • Computational Engineering
  • Energy Science and Engineering
  • Information Systems Engineering
  • Mechanics
  • Mechatronics


Research is being carried out at more than two hundred institutes[citation needed] as well as at the Zentrum für Wissenschaftliches Rechnen - DZWR (Centre of Scientific Computing), where the focus is on interdisciplinary work, and at the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Technikforschung - ZIT (Centre of Interdisciplinary Studies of Technology). Moreover, at the TU Darmstadt there are several Sonderforschungsbereiche (SFB, collaborative research units) as well as several Graduiertenkollegs (graduate schools), funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. In the Mathematics Department, the theory of Formal concept analysis has been developed with an extensive on-going programme and annual conferences.

The scientific infrastructure provided by the University has attracted a considerable number of national and international research institutions to the Wissenschaftsstadt Darmstadt (Darmstadt - City of Science), which on their part collaborate with TU Darmstadt on many projects.[citation needed] Among them are, for example, the Deutsche Kunststoffinstitut (German Institute of Plastics Materials), the Technologiezentrum Darmstadt of Deutsche Telekom (Research and Technology Institute of the Deutsche Telekom), the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Wixhausen, the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT (which collaborates with TU Darmstadt and Hochschule Darmstadt in the Center for Advanced Security Research Darmstadt - CASED), the European Space Operations Centre, EUMETSAT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics. The collaboration with the University ranges from joint research projects to bearing joint responsibility for decisions taken at managerial level of the scientific institutions.

TU Darmstadt is involved in the German Excellence Initiative. This initiative sponsored the Cluster of Excellence Smart Interfaces (2007-2014), the Graduate School of Computitional Engineering and the Graduate School of Excellence Energy Science and Engineering. TU Darmstadt is also partially involved with the Cluster of Excellence Normative Orders, based at Goethe University Frankfurt.[22]

Research profile[edit]

In July 2010, TU Darmstadt defined five Research Clusters which characterize its research profile.[23] Together with the Research Foci they are supposed to emphasise the research activities at TU Darmstadt.

Currently there are 5 Research Clusters:

  • Smart Interfaces - Thermo-Fluids and Combustion Engineering[24]
  • New Materials[25]
  • Matter and Radiation Science[26]
  • Integrated Product- and Production Technology[27]
  • Future Internet[28]

Current Research Foci are:[23]

  • Computational Engineering
  • Urban Research
  • Adaptronic

International life[edit]

With 17,4% (2011),[2] the percentage of foreign students at the TU Darmstadt is clearly higher than the average of German universities of 11,14% (Wintersemester 2011/2012),[29] though at times, especially early in its history, almost a quarter of its students were foreigners,[citation needed] especially from Eastern Europe.

Scientific co-operation on a contractual base is maintained with more than 65 partner universities all over the world.[citation needed]

The University also offers the Joint Master Programme "International Cooperation in Urban Development (Mundus Urbano)" together with Université Pierre Mendès-France, International University of Catalonia, and Universita degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata as part of the Erasmus Mundus programme of the European Commission.[30]

The European Credit transfer system ECTS has been introduced for almost all courses of study.[citation needed]

The student group AEGEE Darmstadt, formerly IDEA[31] and part of the European student organisation AEGEE, provides a programme for all incoming international Students of the University. Activities like hiking, climbing and ways to learn the language are organised by this group.[32]

Knowledge transfer[edit]

In 1998, the City of Darmstadt, Technische Universität Darmstadt, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Darmstadt and Sparkasse Darmstadt founded the Technologie- und Innovationszentrum Darmstadt (TIZ, "Center of Technology and Innovation Darmstadt"), which offers affordable office space and services for entrepreneurs.[33] Since 2016, TU Darmstadt is no longer the owner of the center while its cooperation continues. The other founding members had withdrawn earlier.[34] A number of young scientists, former students and researchers at the TU Darmstadt who have made up their mind to become independent businessmen, use the TIZ in Darmstadt as their base.[citation needed]

Student life[edit]


A survey determined that in Sommersemester 2009 students in Darmstadt paid an arithmetic mean of 321 Euros a month for rent, heat and utilities. With the German average being 281 Euros. Making Darmstadt the sixth most expensive city for students in Germany.[35] This value only includes students not living at home, not married and pursuing their first degree (referred to as "normal student" in the survey).[36] In this semester, on national average, 23.4% lived with their parents, 12.4% lived in a Hall of residence, 1.6% were Lodgers, 25.8% were sharing a flat with others, 17.2% were living alone and 19.9% were sharing a flat with their partner. (figures rounded)[37]

There are 2740 beds in 14 halls of residence offered by the "Studentenwerk Darmstadt"(student union).[38] The HEAG Wohnbau GmbH rents out 369 student-rooms in 4 buildings[39] Note that both previously mentioned institutions do not exclusively offer housing to TU Darmstadt students, but to other students as well. The Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences is another big institution in Darmstadt (with a second campus ins Dieburg) with about 11000 students.[40]

Notable faculty and alumni[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Who We Are TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 6 October 2012
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Facts and Figures". Technische Universität Darmstadt. Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  3. ^ The Presidium of Technische Universität Darmstadt TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 6 October 2012
  4. ^ History of the department of Electrical Engineering: (German)
  5. ^ "Alliances and Networks". Technische Universität Darmstadt. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  6. ^ Der Anfang war international, TU Darmstadt Homepage at the Wayback Machine (archived 23 October 2008)
  7. ^ U.S. Air Force Oral History Interview of Helmut Kuerschner by Dr. Hasdorff. K239.0512-1648, pp.12-14
  9. ^ IKIA,pp. 5-6
  10. ^ jlr-TUDGHEV2P3 Gesetz zur organisatorischen Fortentwicklung der Technischen Universität Darmstadt (TUD-Gesetz) Hessenrecht Rechts- und Verwaltungsvorschriften, Hessian Homepage with all current hessian legal regulations. Visited 7 October 2012
  11. ^ TU Darmstadt – Gesamtübersicht der Standorte (subpages used as well) TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 6 October 2012
  12. ^ TU Darmstadt – Standort Stadtmitte Übersicht Homepage TU Darmstadt. Visited 6 October 2012
  13. ^ TU Darmstadt – Standorte Lichtwiese, Botanischer Garten, Hochschulstadion Übersicht Homepage TU Darmstadt. Visited 6 October 2012
  14. ^ B – Standort Botanischer Garten TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 7 October 2012
  15. ^ Schnittspahnstraße Lageplan Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences Homepage. Visited 7 October 2012
  16. ^ August-Euler-Flugplatz Darauf muss man fliegen! TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 7 October 2012
  17. ^ Forschungslabor unter freiem Himmel TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 7 October 2012
  18. ^ Einrichtungen Homepage of the fluid mechanics and aerodynamics institute of the department of Mechanical engineering at TU Darmstadt. Visited 7 October 2012
  19. ^ a b c The TU-Darmstadt’s Departments and Fields of Study TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 6 October 2012
  20. ^ Masterstudiengänge TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 8 October 2012
  21. ^ Erste Staatsprüfung (Lehramt an Gymnasien) TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 8 October 2012
  22. ^ Excellence Initiative TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  23. ^ a b Cluster and Foci TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  24. ^ Smart Interfaces TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  25. ^ New Materials TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  26. ^ Matter and Radiation Science TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  27. ^ Integrated Product- and Production Technology TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  28. ^ Future Internet TU Darmstadt Website. Visited 15 April 2015
  29. ^ Studierende Insgesamt nach Bundesländern und tiefer gegliederten Angaben Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistical Office of Germany). Visited 6 October 2012
  30. ^ "Advanced Master of Science Programme – International Cooperation in Urban Development (Mundus Urbano)". Technische Universität Darmstadt (in German). Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  31. ^ Welcome to TU Darmstadt TU Darmstadt Homepage. Visited 6 October 2012
  32. ^ AEGEE-Darmstadt e.V. Main Page AEGEE-Darmstadt e.V. Homepage. Visited 6 October 2012
  33. ^ Ausbau des Technologie- und Innovationszentrums (TIZ) gesichert vom 09.01.2001. Homepage Informationsdienst Wissenschaft. Visited 11. January 2013
  34. ^ "Stiftung Giersch kauft das TIZ Darmstadt". Technische Universität Darmstadt (in German). 2016-07-14. Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  35. ^ The Economic and Social Conditions of Student Life in the Federal Republic of Germany in 2009 (Selected results) Page 22, (HIS Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH). Visited 7 October 2012
  36. ^ The Economic and Social Conditions of Student Life in the Federal Republic of Germany in 2009 (Selected results) Page 14, (HIS Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH). Visited 7 October 2012
  37. ^ The Economic and Social Conditions of Student Life in the Federal Republic of Germany in 2009 (Selected results) Page 30, (HIS Hochschul-Informations-System GmbH). Visited 7 October 2012
  38. ^ Wohnen Studentenwerk Darmstadt. Visited 7 October 2012
  39. ^ Wohnungen für Studenten von der HEAG Wohnbau HEAG Wohnbau GmbH Homepage. Visited 8 October 2012
  40. ^ Zahlen, Daten und Fakten Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences Homepage. Visited 8 October 2012
  41. ^

External links[edit]

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