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University of Karlsruhe

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University of Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
Established Fridericiana: 1825 as polytechnical school, 1865 as university;
KIT: 1 October 2009
Type Public
Budget €789 million[1]
President Holger Hanselka
Academic staff 378[1]
Admin. staff 3.423[1]
Students 23,905 (October 2012)

Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
49°00′34″N 8°24′42″E / 49.00944°N 8.41167°E / 49.00944; 8.41167Coordinates: 49°00′34″N 8°24′42″E / 49.00944°N 8.41167°E / 49.00944; 8.41167

Campus Urban/Suburban
Affiliations CLUSTER, CESAER

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is one of the largest and most prestigious research and education institutions in Germany. It was created in 2009 when the University of Karlsruhe (Universität Karlsruhe), founded in 1825 and also known as Fridericiana, merged with the Karlsruhe Research Centre (Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe), which was originally established as the national nuclear research centre (Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe, or KfK) in 1956.[2]

KIT is one of the leading universities in engineering and science in Europe, ranking sixth overall in citation impact.[3] In the 2011 performance ranking of scientific papers, Karlsruhe ranked first in Germany and among the top ten universities in Europe in engineering and science.[4]

Historical background

The University of Karlsruhe was founded as Polytechnische Schule, a polytechnical school, on 7 October 1825. It was modelled upon the École polytechnique in Paris. In 1865, Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden raised the school to the status of a Hochschule, an institution of higher education. Since 1902 the university has also been known as the Fridericiana in his honour. In 1885, it was declared a Technische Hochschule, or institute of technology, and in 1967 it became an Universität, a full university, which gave it the right to award regular doctorate degrees. It had hitherto only been allowed to award doctorates in engineering, identified as Dr. Ing, a right bestowed on all technical institutes in 1899.

The University of Karlsruhe has been one of the leading German institutions in computer science. A central computer laboratory was founded in 1966. The department of informatics was established three years later, along with the first regular course in informatics.[5] On 2 August 1984, the university received Germany's first email. The Institut für Meteorologie und Klimaforschung (Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research) was founded at the university in 1985.

The university also cooperated extensively with the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Research Centre), and this relationship was formalised on 6 April 2006 when Professor Horst Hippler and Dr. Dieter Ertmann from the University of Karlsruhe, and Professor Manfred Popp and Assistant Jur. Sigurd Lettow from Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe signed a contract for the foundation of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The name was chosen in emulation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the leading technical university in the United States.[6] In February 2008, the merger of the university and the research centre to form KIT was agreed by the state of Baden-Württemberg and Germany's federal government.[7] The necessary state law was passed on 8 July 2009.[8] KIT was formally established on 1 October 2009.

The main reason for establishing KIT was to strengthen Karlsruhe's position in the German Universities Excellence Initiative, which offered elite universities grants of up to 50 million euros per annum. This aim was not achieved: while the University of Karlsruhe was chosen for the initiative in 2006/2007, KIT failed to secure a place in 2012. It did, however, attract funds from other sources. In 2008, Hans-Werner Hector, co-founder of SAP, raised 200 million euros to support researchers at the institute. (Hector is the only founder of SAP who did not graduate from the University of Karlsruhe; he was given an honorary doctorate for his support of intellectually gifted children in 2003.)

Admission and education

Since the winter semester of 2008/2009, KIT has completed the change from the Diplom system to a bachelor and master system. Students already enrolled for a diplom degree when the transition began were allowed to finish their studies, but new students are only allowed to apply for a bachelor or master degree.

Admission policies differ between departments. While students are chosen by the quality of their school degree and their extracurricular activities for courses such as business engineering (27 per cent of admissions in 2008),[9] other departments do not preselect for their courses, including physics, informatics, and meteorology. All courses require a minimum number of passed exams, called Orientierungsprüfung or orientation assessment, in the first three semesters before students are allowed to complete their course. There is a substantial drop-out rate for some engineering courses due to the immense study requirement in order to pass the pre-requisites.

In the first semesters of a course, education tends to be theoretically oriented at KIT, with a high concentration of mathematics for engineering and natural science courses. It is possible to choose between practical and theoretical topics in later semesters.

Interdisciplinary education and research

The university allows a broad range of education with the possibility of cross studies and work. The studium generale (English: general studies) was established in 1949, allowing students to attend lectures not directly pertaining their study field.

The Zentrum für Angewandte Kulturwissenschaft und Studium Generale (Centre for Applied Culture and General Studies)[10] was founded in 1989 to support the students as a central institution for their interdisciplinary study. Nowadays it offers specialised qualifications in the fields of "Leadership and Entrepreneurship", "Media - Culture - Communication", "Internationalisation and intercultural decision-making and responsibility", "Diversity Management", "European Integration and Identity Studies", as well as the classical studium generale. A possibility for a concomitant study in applied culture science is given as well.[11]

In 1979, the Interfakultatives Institut für Anwendungen der Informatik (Interfaculty Institute for Applications of Informatics)[12] was founded. It brings together research in physics, mathematics, and engineering based on computer science. Its mathematical pendant is the Institut für Wissenschaftliches Rechnen und Mathematische Modellbildung (Institute for Scientific Calculations and Mathematical Modelling).[13] Its aim is to enhance the exchange between mathematics and engineering in the fields of scientific calculations.

The Interfakultatives Institut für Entrepreneurship (Interfaculty Institute for Entrepreneurship)[14] was established by SAP funding. Its teaching professors were entrepreneurs on their own. Before being shut down in 2010 the former professor was Götz Werner, founder of Drogeriemarkt.

In 2001, the Centre for Functional Nanostructures (CFN)[15] was established. It merges the fields of material sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics which are related to nano technology. The CFN is one of the three Exzellenzzentren (English: Excellence Instituitions) of the University of Karlsruhe. Another interdisciplinary institution is the Centre for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM).

The Karlsruhe School of Optics and Photonics (KSOP)[16] was established in 2006 as a publicly funded project by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under the German Universities Excellence Initiative. KSOP was the first graduate school at the University of Karlsruhe and covers photonic materials and devices, advanced spectroscopy, biomedical photonics, optical systems and solar energy. It is supported by several institutes and professors of the university. It is also a partner in the EUROPHOTONICS consortium,[17] which provides scholarship for master's degrees[18] and PhD[19] under the European Commission's prestigious Erasmus Mundus cooperation and mobility program.


According to the Ranking of Scientific Impact of Leading European Research Universities, an official document compiled by the European Commission, Karlsruhe ranks 2nd nationally and 6th in Europe in terms of scholarly impact.[3][20]

With the exception of the department of biology,[21] this university receives more funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft than any other university specializing in the natural sciences in Germany.[22] However, when compared to Germany's other universities, the university receives average funding. In the engineering sciences (Computer Science, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering), the university is in the top three together with University of Stuttgart and the RWTH Aachen. It also consistently ranks top in the course business engineering and management, concerning the overall study situation as well as popularity with employers.[23] However, the university is not in the top twenty in the subject of mathematics.[24]

More than 20% of its students are attracted from other nations and 0.6% of its students receive grants from the German Studienstiftung (German National Academic Foundation).[25] In 1998, ScienceWatch ranked its chemistry faculty as belonging to "the cream of the crop in chemistry" internationally.[26]

In 2006, the University of Karlsruhe was chosen to be one of the first three universities with the best future concept within the scope of the German Universities Excellence Initiative. These universities have been called "elite universities" in general public and media from that day on.

For many years the department for Computer Science has been the number one institution in this field in Germany. Hence, the University of Karlsruhe has established international reputation.[27]

In the 2013 QS World University Rankings[28] the university was ranked 116th in the world. Its subject rankings were 33rd in Engineering and Technology and 34th in Natural Sciences.

It was ranked 13th in the world for Mechanical Engineering by the Taiwan Rankings.[4]

In the 2012 Times Higher Education World University Rankings the university was ranked 151st in the world. This equals the 63rd rank in Europe and the 8th rank in Germany.[29]

Campus Nord

The Campus Nord (English: Campus North), the former Forschungszentrum was founded in 1956 as Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe (KfK) (Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Centre). Initial activities concentrated around the Forschungsreaktor 2 (FR2), the first nuclear reactor built by Germany. With the decline of nuclear energy activities in Germany, Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe directed its work increasingly towards alternative areas of basic and applied sciences. This change is reflected in the change of name from Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe to Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe with the subheading Technik und Umwelt (technology and environment) in 1995. This subheading was replaced by in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft in 2002.

The Campus Nord is the site of the main German national nuclear engineering research centre and the Institute for Transuranium Elements. Also present on the site is a nanotechnology research centre and the neutrino experiment KATRIN.

There is further a 200 metre tall guyed mast for meteorological measurements at Campus Nord.

Computer facilities

The Steinbuch Centre for Computing (SCC), named after Karl Steinbuch, is the institution which was formed in 2008 out of the merging process between the main computer facilities of the University of Karlsruhe and the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe. It is responsible for the university's IP connectivity and provides central services (Mail, Web, Campus management) for students and employees. It supplies students with 10 fully equipped computer rooms, one professional print office and a wireless network over the whole campus area. Some departments, like computer science, physics, and mathematics, run their own computer rooms as well.

The SCC runs some of the fastest computers in Germany:

  • HP XC3000 (334 nodes with 8 cores each, 27.04 TFLOPS)
  • HP XC4000 (750 nodes with 4 cores each, 15.77 TFLOPS)
  • a cluster bought by a corporation of institutes of different disciplines (200 nodes with 8 cores each, 17.57 TFLOPS)
  • the two vector parallel calculators NEC SX-8R and NEC SX-9

On 2 August 1984, Michael Rotert, a research fellow at University of Karlsruhe, received the first email ever sent to Germany, at his address rotert@germany.[30]

GridKa runs the Rocks Cluster Distribution Linux distribution for supercomputers.


The KIT Library is the main library of KIT. Its two branches on Campus South and Campus North provide literature for research and study for about 25,000 students and 8000 scientists with a widespread, interdisciplinary book stock of over 2 million volumes, reports and 28,000 periodicals in print and electronic form. The emphasis of the collection lies on natural and engineering sciences.

KIT Library South

The 24-hour library at Campus South was extended in 2006. It became a 24-hour library with many working places and a relaxing area, and is now open around the clock. The combination of a special book security system and an automated issue desk make it possible to use the 1000 workplaces anytime, day or night. Current and contemporary literature is freely accessible in the four specialised reading rooms. Each reading room provides cross-linked, modern and well-equipped study and work stations as well as printers, scanners and copy machines.

KIT Library North

The research library at Campus North provides a large specialised book stock (especially reports and primary reports) on energy and nuclear energy. The complete literature is freely accessible to the user. Thirty modern workplaces, as well as printers, scanners, copy machines and cubicles for individual work are available.

Further libraries at KIT

Additional literature is located in the two specialised reading rooms for chemistry and physics, as well as in the Library of the University of Applied Sciences at Campus Moltkestrasse, which is administrated by the KIT Library. The faculty of physics, the faculty of mathematics, the faculty of computer science and the faculty of economics and business management have got their own libraries to supply students and researchers with topic related literature.

Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE)

The CIE is an entrepreneurial driven platform for students, scientist and alumni of the KIT and the region Karlsruhe who are interested in starting a business. The CIE platform is developing towards an entrepreneur club where entrepreneurs support each other to raise successful businesses. Prospective entrepreneurs seek advise from the very first idea, how to develop business concepts and how to find co-workers. Founded in 2008 by two alumni of the KIT, the CIE offers a wide portfolio of services including consulting and concept development. The CIE also provides facilities like a StartUp-office where new entrepreneur teams can work on their ideas. All services are for free. Entrepreneurs who benefit from the active club are asked to support the CIE financially and with own services. As a project of the KIT, the CIE receives financial support from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the European Social Fund.


The university has eleven faculties:

  1. Mathematics
  2. Physics
  3. Chemistry and Biology
  4. Humanities and Social sciences
  5. Architecture
  6. Civil engineering, Geology, and Ecological Sciences
  7. Mechanical Engineering
  8. Chemical and Process Engineering
  9. Electrical engineering and Information Technology
  10. Computer Science
  11. Economics and Business engineering

Many departments cooperate, some are shared with the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe.

Famous people and discoveries

Famous students

Department Names
Architecture Hans Kollhoff, Oswald Mathias Ungers, Albert Speer, Ivan Vasilyov, Leopoldo Rother
Civil Engineering and Geology Robert Gerwig, Dieter Ludwig
Computer Science Peter Sanders, Jörn Müller-Quade, Karl Steinbuch
German language Herbert Wetterauer
Mechanical Engineering Karl Benz, Emil Škoda, Bernhard Howaldt, Franz Reuleaux, August Thyssen, Roland Mack
Mathematics Fritz Noether
Physics Johann Jakob Balmer, Fritz-Rudolf Güntsch, Edward Teller, Klaus Tschira, Bernd Schmidbauer
Chemical Engineering Wilhelm Steinkopf
Electrical Engineering Rolf Wideröe, Dieter Zetsche
Informational Technology Bhabapriya Mishra, Hasso Plattner, Dietmar Hopp
Industrial Engineering Franz Fehrenbach, Stefan Quandt, Michael Rogowski


  • 1968 – 1983 Professor Dr. Ing. h. c. Heinz Draheim
  • 1983 – 1994 Professor Dr. h.c. Heinz Kunle
  • 1994 – 2002 Professor Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Dr.h.c.mult. Sigmar Wittig
  • 2002 – 2009 Professor Dr. sc. tech. Horst Hippler[31]
  • 2009–2012: Professor Dr. sc. tech. Horst Hippler and Professor Dr.rer.nat. Eberhard Umbach
  • 2012–2013: Professor Dr.rer.nat. Eberhard Umbach
  • since 1 October 2013:[32] Professor Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka

Points of interest

Notes and references

External links

  • Official website of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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