UTC is now 50 years of age!

Cre­at­ed in 1972 as an ‘exper­i­men­tal’ uni­ver­si­ty of tech­nol­o­gy, UTC, a pub­lic estab­lish­ment of a sci­en­tif­ic, cul­tur­al and pro­fes­sion­al nature, wel­comed its first class of stu­dents in 1973. I pro­pose we explore these fifty years of his­to­ry in the com­pa­ny of the per­son who care­ful­ly pre­serves the school’s archives. Claire Eti­enne, in charge of the archives at UTC (Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy, Com­pieg­ne) whose respon­si­bil­i­ty it is to ensure that these col­lec­tions are well pre­served in her secure, tem­per­a­ture- and humid­i­ty-con­trolled storage.

Let’s start this beautiful story beginning in the 1970s

October 2, 1972

UTC was cre­at­ed by Gov­ern­ment decree. Guy Deniélou, a naval offi­cer and research engi­neer at the Com­mis­sari­at à l’én­ergie atom­ique (CEA), had been work­ing on the idea since the ear­ly 60s. Approached by Olivi­er Guichard, then Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion, he left his post as head of the neu­tron reac­tor depart­ment at the CEA in 1972 to move to Com­piègne, where he served as pres­i­dent of UTC from 1974 to 1986.


In the absence of any new build­ings, the new­ly found­ed uni­ver­si­ty had no choice but to spread out over the town. It there­fore mul­ti­plied its address­es while wait­ing for the con­struc­tion of the Avi­cenne build­ing, known as “Le Château”, in Octo­ber 1973, fol­lowed by the grad­ual open­ing of the Ben­jamin- Franklin Cen­tre (1975–1976) and the Roy­al­lieu Research Cen­tre (1977–1978).

September 1977

The first 41 stu­dents grad­u­at­ed from UTC, 27 major­ing in Mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, 10 in Bio­log­i­cal engi­neer­ing and 4 in Chem­i­cal engineering.

November 1978

Four per­son­al­i­ties from the Chi­nese Embassy in Paris vis­it UTC to nego­ti­ate the enrol­ment of Chi­nese stu­dents. This vis­it was report­ed in the UTC’s house mag­a­zine, informations.UTC n° 201 cov­er­ing he week Novem­ber 2 to 8, 1978, a real “Intranet” at the time! It already read: “These con­tacts fol­low on from the nego­ti­a­tions between the Chi­nese author­i­ties and the French Min­istries of For­eign Affairs and Uni­ver­si­ties to wel­come Chi­nese stu­dents and research staff to France. The recent vis­it by the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter of Bei­jing comes to mind. A del­e­ga­tion from Com­piègne could be sent to Chi­na to estab­lish clos­er rela­tions with a Chi­nese university.

Moving on to the 1980s

In the spring of 1980

Spring-time 1980 saw the open­ing of the new Indus­tri­al Design course, cre­at­ed in 1979 with­in UTC’s Depart­ment of Mechan­i­cal Engineering.

February 1985

The UTC mod­el had proved its worth. The then Pres­i­dent of the French Repub­lic, François Mit­ter­rand, and Jean-Pierre Chevène­ment, the French Min­is­ter for Edu­ca­tion and High­er Edu­ca­tion, vis­it­ed URC and announced their sup­port in terms of human and mate­r­i­al resources. It was against this back­drop that UTC’s first “lit­tle sis­ter”, was ini­ti­at­ed by Jean-Pierre Chevène­ment. In May 1985, nego­ti­a­tions were held between the Besançon School of Micro­me­chan­ics, UTC­Com­pieg­ne and Franche-Comté’s major indus­tri­al part­ners, Alstom, Bull and Peu­geot. This branch, the future UTBM (Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy – Belfort – Mont­be­liard), ded­i­cat­ed to sur­face treat­ment and the design of indus­tri­al prod­ucts, was ini­tial­ly planned be locat­ed in the château in the town of Séve­nans, near Belfort. The first matric­u­la­tion of stu­dents took place on Octo­ber 15, 1985.


1986 The Depart­ment of Tech­nol­o­gy and Human Sci­ences (TSH) was cre­at­ed, as a suc­ces­sor to a for­mer divi­sion of “Gen­er­al Per­son­al­i­ty Development”.

31st March 1987

Pres­i­dent François Mit­ter­rand came to lay the foun­da­tion stone of what would lat­er become UTBM, the Belfort- Mont­béliard Uni­ver­si­ty of Technology.

So, let us now pursue the journey celebrating the 50 years of the UTC with the years 1990s


The first grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mo­ny took place at the Cul­tur­al Cen­tre (Espace Jean Legendre), cou­pled with the award of Hon­orary Doc­tor­ates to three pres­i­dents of part­ner universities.


Cre­ation of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy, Troyes (UTT).


Inau­gu­ra­tion of the Pierre Guil­lau­mat build­ing (PG). It bears the name of one of the founders of UTC, also 4th Pres­i­dent of the University’s Aca­d­e­m­ic Council.

Now we have reached the year 2000


The first aca­d­e­m­ic year begins for stu­dents enrolling in the brand new Urban Sys­tem Engi­neer­ing (GSU) branch.


Open­ing of the Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Mas­ter’s degree fol­low­ing the Licence, Mas­ter, Doc­tor­at (so-called L.M.D.) reform.


Cre­ation of the Shang­hai Sino-Euro­pean Uni­ver­si­ty of Technology.(UTSEUS), found­ed on a pio­neer­ing and unique part­ner­ship in the fields of edu­ca­tion and research between UTT, the two oth­er French uni­ver­si­ties of tech­nol­o­gy, UTBM (Belfort-Mont­be­liard) and UTC (Com­piègne), and Shang­hai University.

August 17, 2008

Julien Bahain, who was to grad­u­ate in 2011 in Mechan­i­cal sys­tems engi­neer­ing after his admis­sion to the “elite sports” pro­gramme pro­posed from the UTC, won the bronze medal in the Men’s Four row­ing final with his three team-mates, behind Poland and Italy, at the Bei­jing Olympics. He will be the God-Father of the 40th class of UTC grad­u­ates, on the occa­sion of the UTC’s 40th anniversary.

September 6, 2012

The first stone of the UTC Inno­va­tion Cen­tre is laid in the pres­ence of Bernard Cazeneuve, Min­is­ter Del­e­gate to the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, respon­si­ble for Euro­pean Affairs. Sup­port­ing the local UTC inno­va­tion ecosys­tem, the inno­va­tion cen­tre will be sim­i­lar to a research, train­ing, devel­op­ment, indus­tri­al and tech­nol­o­gy trans­fer plat­form, inte­grat­ing and sup­port­ing the inno­va­tion process in the con­duct of col­lab­o­ra­tive projects.


The UTC became a found­ing mem­ber of the clus­ter Sor­bonne Uni­ver­sités Com­mu­ni­ty of Uni­ver­si­ties and Estab­lish­ments (COMUE) (which became Sor­bonne Uni­ver­sité in 2018) along with six oth­er French high­er edu­ca­tion estab­lish­ments: Paris- Sor­bonne Uni­ver­si­ty (Paris IV), Pierre and Marie-Curie Uni­ver­si­ty (UPMC), the Euro­pean Insti­tute of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion (INSEAD), the Muséum nation­al d’his­toire naturelle (MNHN), the Pôle supérieur d’en­seigne­ment artis­tique Paris Boulogne-Bil­lan­court (PSPBB), and the Cen­tre inter­na­tion­al d’é­tudes péd­a­gogiques (CIEP).

December 5, 2012

Claudie Haign­eré, France’s first female astro­naut and Min­is­ter for Research and New Tech­nolo­gies in Jean-Pierre Raf­far­in’s Gov­ern­ment, was wel­comed to UTC-Com­pieg­ne by Prof. Alain Stor­ck, Pres­i­dent & Vice-Chan­cel­lor of UTC, to attend the pre­sen­ta­tion of the CSTI (Sci­en­tif­ic, Tech­ni­cal and Indus­tri­al Cul­ture) net­work in Picardy. She had already vis­it­ed UTC on sev­er­al occa­sions, notably on Octo­ber 17, 2003 for the Fête de la Sci­ence, when she dec­o­rat­ed Fran­cis Goubel, then Direc­tor of the doc­tor­al school, who had been her phys­i­ol­o­gy professor.

January 12, 2015

The Daniel Thomas Inno­va­tion Cen­tre is inau­gu­rat­ed in the pres­ence of Ms Fio­ra­so, Sec­re­tary of State for High­er Edu­ca­tion and Research to the Min­is­ter for Nation­al Edu­ca­tion, High­er Edu­ca­tion and Research.

August 2016

Marie Gay­ot, a stu­dent engi­neer at the UTC, took part in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the Olympic Games in Rio, thanks to her run­ner-up fin­ish in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships for French women in the 4 x 400 metres.

And what happens in the “world after”?

Eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tion and social com­mit­ment are becom­ing two of the insti­tu­tion’s strate­gic priorities.

From Jan­u­ary to July 2022, a major con­sul­ta­tion of all UTC stake­hold­ers will take place. It cov­ers the UTC’s 6 main areas of activ­i­ty: research and inno­va­tion, stu­dent and staff train­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, inter-cam­pus trans­fers, real estate assets and admin­is­tra­tive man­age­ment. A total of 1 447 respons­es were received, includ­ing 927 from stu­dents and 441 from staff. Five pri­or­i­ty actions were iden­ti­fied, includ­ing a core train­ing pro­gramme for stu­dents, ther­mal ren­o­va­tion of build­ings and solu­tions for soft mobility. 

An SD&RS (Sus­tain­able development/Social Respon­si­bil­i­ty project man­ag­er was recruit­ed in July 2022 to help imple­ment the select­ed actions. 

The “intro­duc­tion to envi­ron­men­tal issues for engi­neers” foun­da­tion course will open at the start of the 2022–2023 aca­d­e­m­ic year. It con­cerns all new UTC stu­dents, i.e., 483. Its objec­tive is not only to pro­vide an under­stand­ing of glob­al changes (cli­mate, resources, bio­di­ver­si­ty, pol­lu­tion, etc.) and their sys­temic dimen­sion, but also of their impli­ca­tions for Soci­ety, par­tic­u­lar­ly those that direct­ly con­cern the engi­neer­ing profession. 

A new course, the cross-dis­ci­pli­nary Sus­tain­able Engi­neer­ing label, is also offered. It offers stu­dents a choice of cred­its in all the spe­cial­i­sa­tions. These cov­er three dimen­sions of sus­tain­able engi­neer­ing: the sys­tems approach and mod­el­ling, the lowtech­nol­o­gy approach, and crit­i­cal reflec­tion on our own cultures. 

In addi­tion, train­ing cours­es have helped to raise aware­ness of cli­mate issues among 20% of staff, and var­i­ous ini­tia­tives are aimed at reduc­ing the insti­tu­tion’s car­bon footprint. 

Final­ly, to mark this strong com­mit­ment, in March 2023 the UTC will sign the ‘Greno­ble Accord’, com­mit­ting itself to 134 of the 180 mea­sures in the accord. 

And all this is just the begin­ning: a new depart­ment, “Eco­log­i­cal Tran­si­tion and Soci­etal Com­mit­ment”, will be launched in June 2023, with the trans­verse mis­sion of rolling out the approach to all the insti­tu­tion’s activ­i­ties, in order to cre­ate the con­di­tions that will enable i to apply for the SD&RS label in 2025.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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