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<a href="/content/Athena" style="color:blue">Athena</a>, goddess of wisdom and strategy
Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy

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.[4] In 1882, it was the first university in the world to set up a chair in electrical engineering. In 1883, the university founded the first faculty for electrical engineering and introduced the world's first course of study in electrical engineering.[5][6] In 2004, it became the first German university to be declared as an autonomous university.[7] Nobel laureate Albert Einstein recommended this university.[8]

TU Darmstadt is a partner of the National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity (CRISP), a collaboration between TU Darmstadt, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology, Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research and the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. With over 450 researchers working on topics related to security and privacy, this partnership represents the largest alliance of research institutes in the area of cybersecurity within Europe.[9] TU Darmstadt is also a member of the Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (CAST), the largest corporate network for cyber security in German-speaking countries.[10][11]

TU Darmstadt is a member of TU9, a network of the most notable German Technische Universitäten (universities of technology) and of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe network, which allows for student exchanges between leading engineering schools.[12]

Computer science, electrical engineering, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, business informatics and many more courses were introduced as scientific disciplines in Germany by Darmstadt faculty.[5][13][14][15] Graduates of the TU Darmstadt include Nobel Prize winners, entrepreneurs, managers, billionaires and politicians. TU Darmstadt is one of the universities with the most DAX executive board members among its graduates.[16] Of the three German scientists who have been awarded a Wolf Prize in Physics, two are graduates of the TU Darmstadt.


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.[17] In 1899, the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt was granted the right to award doctorates.[18][19][20]

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.[21][20][22]

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.[20][23]

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.[20]

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.[20][21][22][24]

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."[25] 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.[24]

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.[26][24][20]

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."[28]

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.[20][20]

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.[20][29][30]

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.[20][30]

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.[20][22]

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.[31] 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 status of autonomy also allows TU Darmstadt to invest in business start-ups.[32] The Technische Universität Darmstadt is the only German university that has legally committed itself to guarantee their students good studying conditions.[33][34] The TUD law in its current state has legal force up to 31. December 2020.[20][32][34]

In 1882, the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt was the first university in the world to set up a chair for electrical engineering and founded the first faculty for it in 1883.[6][5] The first chair holder was Erasmus Kittler.[35] In the same year the university introduced the world's first course of study in electrical engineering.[5]

In 1913, the university set up the first chair for aviation and aircraft technology in Germany.[36] The TH Darmstadt set up the first chair for scientific policy in 1951.[37] The first chair holder was Eugen Kogon. He is considered one of the founders of political science in Germany. The TH Darmstadt shaped the subject of corporate governance in Germany. In 1973, the university established the first chair for management control system in Germany. The first chair holder was Peter Horvarth.[38][39]

In Germany, the beginnings of computer science go back to the Institute for Practical Mathematics of the TH Darmstadt, which the mathematician Alwin Walther built in early 1928.[40] In 1956, the first programming lectures and internships in Germany were offered at the TH Darmstadt.[40] Due to the reputation that the TH Darmstadt had at the time in computer science research, the first international congress on computer science held in German-speaking countries took place in October 1955 at the TH Darmstadt.[40] Robert Piloty, professor at the TH Darmstadt, developed the computer science courses in Germany.[40] In 1968, the TH Darmstadt introduced the first course of study in computer science in Germany and in 1975 the first business informatics course.[40]

Artificial intelligence as a scientific field in Germany and Europe was founded by Wolfgang Bibel, professor of intellectics at the TU Darmstadt.[40] He set up a research group for artificial intelligence at the TH Darmstadt in 1988.[41] In 1996, the first chair in Germany for renewable energies was set up at TH Darmstadt and staffed with Thomas Hartkopf.[42]

In 2004, it became the first German university to be declared as an autonomous university.[7]

Academic profile

Typical for a university of technology, ten out of its 13 academic departments (Fachbereiche) are in engineering, natural sciences, and mathematics, while three departments are in the social sciences and the humanities. The departments (with number of the department) are:[43]

  • Architecture (15)
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering (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)

There are five fields of study (Studienbereiche), which offer interdisciplinary degree courses in which students take lectures in multiple departments:[43]

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

TU Darmstadt offers about 100 courses of studies.[44] Beyond Bachelor's and Master's degrees, it also offers degree courses for teaching positions at German vocational schools and gymnasiums.[45]

TU Darmstadt defined six profile areas which characterize its research profile:[46]

  • Thermo-Fluids and Interfaces[47]
  • Future Energy Systems[48]
  • From Material to Product Innovation[49]
  • Cybersecurity (CYSEC)[50]
  • Internet and Digitisation[51]
  • Matter and Radiation Science[52]

At the TU Darmstadt there are several Sonderforschungsbereiche (SFB, collaborative research units)[53] as well as several Graduiertenkollegs (graduate schools),[54] funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

The university has attracted a considerable number of national and international research institutions to the Wissenschaftsstadt Darmstadt (Darmstadt - City of Science). Among them are:

TU Darmstadt collaborates with these research institutes on a broad basis. For instance, TU Darmstadt and GSI agreed on a strategic partnership, which includes collaboration in the establishment of the FAIR Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research.[58]

The National Research Center for Applied Cybersecurity is a collaboration between TU Darmstadt, Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology, Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research and the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. This partnership represents the largest alliance of research institutes in the area of cybersecurity within Europe.[9]

The European Space Agency has set up a research laboratory at TU Darmstadt, [email protected] Darmstadt. It is the first research laboratory the European Space Agency has set up at a German university.[59][60]

As of 2018 the TU Darmstadt has won the competition of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and is building an Institute for Manufacturing together with 50 partners including Siemens, Volkswagen, KUKA, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and Volvo. At Darmstadt there will be an EIT Manufacturing Innovation Hub.[61][62]

Together with Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, TU Darmstadt has formed the strategic Rhine-Main Universities alliance.[4][63]

TU Darmstadt is involved in the German Excellence Initiative. This initiative sponsored the Cluster of Excellence Smart Interfaces (2007-2014), the Graduate School of Computational 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.[64]

The Technische Universität Darmstadt maintains several research collaborations with companies and research institutions. These include, for example:

  • PRORETA, a research collaboration with Continental AG whose goal is to develop driver assistance systems that avoid traffic accidents.[65]
  • Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Secure Computing (ICRI-SC), a joint institute of the Technische Universität Darmstadt and Intel, which deals with the security of system-on-a-chip (SoC) platforms.[66] It is the first Intel collaborative research center for IT security outside the USA.[67]
  • Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Collaborative Autonomous & Resilient Systems (ICRI-CARS), a joint institute of the Technische Universität Darmstadt and Intel to study the security, privacy and safety of auto­no­mous systems that collaborate with each other.[68]
  • SAP Research, a cooperation with the software manufacturer SAP, which conducts research in various fields.[69]

The Technical University distinguishes between strategic alliances, a cooperative lab and a TU Darmstadt cooperation institute in strategic partnerships.[70]

The TU Darmstadt maintains strategic alliances with the companies Merck, Deutsche Bahn, Continental, Robert Bosch GmbH and Siemens.[70]

Cooperative Labs are research laboratories that are operated together with the partner and, as a rule, on the grounds of the TU Darmstadt. The labs conduct joint and interdisciplinary research into a defined but broad subject area.[70] Together with Merck, the TU Darmstadt operates the Merck Lab, which has been investigating novel inorganic composite materials since 2006 that are suitable as printable components for electronic applications.[70]

Selected strategic partnerships can also receive the status of a TU Darmstadt cooperation institute from the university management.[70] Since 2012, the first TU Darmstadt cooperation institute has been the DB Schenker Lab, whose goal is to expand joint research in the fields of transport and logistics and to additionally create relevant offers in the fields of teaching, training and university marketing.[70]

TU Darmstadt pursues multiple paths for knowledge and technology transfer. The university's start-up center HIGHEST (Home of Innovation, GrowtH, EntrepreneurShip and Technology Management) provides support for founders from the university, with a focus on digital and high-tech start-ups.[71] For cooperation with small and medium sized companies, TU Darmstadt set up a structured collaboration with Hessenmetall, the regional association of the machinery, electronic and automotive industry.[72] Research funds from industry were 37 million Euros in 2017.[73]

The Technische Universität Darmstadt is one of the few German universities that have a high-performance computer.[74] The high-performance computer Lichtenberg is named after Georg Christoph Lichtenberg and has a computing power of about 1 PetaFLOPS.[75] For comparison, the currently fastest high-performance computer Summit owns 148.6 PetaFLOPS (as of June 2019). In 2015 Lichtenberg was listed in the TOP500 at rank 410.[76] In 2017, the TU Darmstadt received 15 million euros from the federal government and state for the expansion of the Lichtenberg high-performance computer, the Lichtenberg II.[77][78] This should have more than twice the power.[79][80] Lichtenberg II will be used especially in the field of computational engineering, which is a profile topic of the TU Darmstadt.

The TU Darmstadt is also a member of the Competence Center for High Performance Computing in Hessen (HKHLR), an association of the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, the Justus Liebig University Giessen, the Philipps University Marburg, the University of Kassel and the Technische Universität Darmstadt.[81] Each of the members has a high-performance computer.[81] As a voting member TU Darmstadt represents Hessian interests in the Gauß-Allianz, the union of all supercomputers at the state level in Germany.[81]


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.[82]

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).[83]

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).[84]

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)[85] and parts of the faculty of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology of the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da)[86] it makes for an additional smaller campus.

Since 2005, TU Darmstadt owns the August Euler Airfield, Germany's oldest airfield, for scientific purposes. It is named after its founder August Euler, a pioneer aviator.[87] 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.[88] Located near the airfield are the wind tunnels of TU Darmstadt.[89]


With 18% (2017),[44] the percentage of international students at the TU Darmstadt is clearly higher than the average of German universities of 13% (2017/18).[90] TU Darmstadt maintains partnership agreements with over 300 universities in 53 countries world-wide, which enable students to come to TU Darmstadt and to go abroad within their course of studies.[91][92] For example, the Technische Universität Darmstadt has partnerships with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Nanyang Technological University, Tsinghua University and Seoul National University.[93]

With Tongji University Shanghai, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, and Graz University of Technology, TU Darmstadt has developed strategic partnerships.[94]

The university offers international (English-language) Master's programs[95] and a broad range of double degree programs.[96] The Joint Master Programme "International Cooperation in Urban Development (Mundus Urbano)" is offered 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.[97]

TU Darmstadt is a member of the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research.[98][4]

The Technische Universität Darmstadt has been awarded the title "European University" by the European Commission. Together with 6 other European technical universities, the TU Darmstadt has formed the alliance UNITE! (University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering). The aim of the project is to create a trans-European campus, to introduce trans-European curricula, to promote scientific cooperation between the members and to strengthen knowledge transfer between the countries. The alliance includes Aalto University, the Royal Institute of Technology, the National Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble, the Polytechnic University of Turin, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the University of Lisbon.[99]

Student life

TU Darmstadt offers various recreational sports courses and operates three sports halls, a sports stadium including various fields, a swimming pool, and a fitness studio. The TU Darmstadt won the university competition of the German Olympic Sports Confederation for the third time in succession and has since been awarded the title of the most athletic university in Germany.[100] There are manifold accredited student groups, ranging from the Formula SAE TU Darmstadt Racing Team (DART), TU Darmstadt Space Technology (TUDSaT), Akaflieg Darmstadt, and Chaos Computer Club to a theater group, an orchestra, and the campus radio AudioMax.[101] The annual job fair konaktiva, which connects approximately 10,000 students with potential employers, is organized by volunteer students.[102]

Students at TU Darmstadt are represented by the students' parliament (Studierendenparlament, StuPa), which is elected annually and in turn elects the General Students' Committee (Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss, AStA). The AStA is the students' government and engages in university politics and provides social and economic counseling for students. Moreover, it runs the café 60,3qm ("60.3 square meters"), a beer garden and a club in the Ducal Palace, a store for office supplies, and a bicycle garage. In addition to the regular university curriculum, students can attend various non-credit courses held by students and coordinated by the AStA.

Complementing the General Students' Committee, which represents all students enrolled at TU Darmstadt, the students of each department (Fachschaft) are represented by an elected students' council (Fachschaftsrat). Students of the Fachschaft participate in a number of committees of their department, such as the department's council (Fachbereichsrat), which consists of professors, students, academic staff and administrative staff.

Since the 1970s, the fictitious student Fritz Filter passed numerous examinations at the Department of Architecture before graduating with a Diplom degree in 2004. His thesis featured the design of the department building. Fritz Filter turned in multiple further architecture theses since then.[103]

A survey determined that in summer semester 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 at the time, this made Darmstadt the sixth most expensive city for students in Germany.[104] This value only includes students not living at home, not married and pursuing their first degree (referred to as "normal student" in the survey).[105] 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.[106]

There are 2,512 beds in 9 halls of residence offered by the state-run student affairs organization Studierendenwerk Darmstadt for students of TU Darmstadt and Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.[107]

Reputation and ranking

Within Germany and Europe, the TU Darmstadt (in the overall ranking) and its faculties (in individual grades) regularly occupy top positions in rankings.

Notable faculty and alumni

Nobel laureates, who studied, taught and researched at the TH/TU Darmstadt:

Taught at TH/TU Darmstadt through Emanuel Merck Lectureship:

Other Nobel laureates are associated with the university:

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