National Technical University of Athens, School of Chemical Engineering



The National Technical University was founded in Athens, Greece in 1837. During the second year of its operation,the pharmacist of King Otto was appointed as teacher of the "Chemistry of the Arts" in the Sunday School. Chemistry was mentioned as one of the mandatory courses of the second part of the Curriculum (together with Engineering Drawing, Mathematics, and Mechanics), where a large number of technicians were further educated. It must be emphasized that Chemistry was not only taught for a general encyclopaedic education of the young students, but also to illustrate subjects that would interest them as professionals, i.e. it was meant as Applied Chemistry.

Following an educational restructuring in 1863, the teaching of Chemistry continued but, at the same time, an organized Chemistry Laboratory appeared together with other Laboratories.

From the beginning of the decade of 1870, where the School of the Arts was characterized as Secondary Technical Level School, three branches of the Department of Manufacture were listed: Mechanics, Architecture, and Land Surveying. It is worth mentioning that Chemistry was taught in the fourth year of all three branches.
Following the reforms of 1887 and the foundation of the School of "Industrial Arts", the Schools of Civil Engineering, Mechanics, and of Land Surveyors were established. In the first two Schools, Chemistry was tought in the freshman year.

In 1914, within the framework of a reform in the Schools, the countdown for the founding of the School of Chemical Engineering started. Through Law 388 of 1914, at the same time with the new name of the Institute as "Metsovion Polytechnion", the School of Foremen of the Chemical and Metallurgical Industries was attached to the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Finally, in 1917, the government of Elefth. Venizelos modified Law 388/1914. The Schools of Chemical Engineering, of Architecture, and of Land Surveying were founded by Law 980 of the 24th of October of 1917. The founding Law of 1917 states: "The Etnikon Metsovion Polytechnion is aiming at the education of the scientists and the provision of advanced technical knowledge for public and private needs, it is composed of the already functioning School of Civil Engineering, of the School of Mechanical Engineering, which is transformed into the School of Mechanical Engineering and of Electrical Engineering, and of the new Schools proposed by this Law, i.e. the School of Architecture, the School of Chemical Engineering, and the School of Land Surveying".

The School started its operation with an annual program on the following school year, 1918-1919. During 1917-18 the new necessary Laboratories were created.

In 1946, through Law 1021, the School of Chemical Engineering was split into three departments, each one with a 5 year program of studies:
- The Department of Chemical Engineering;
- The Department of Mining Engineering;
- The Department of Metallurgy.

Up until 1947, the School did not have sufficient installations and teaching spaces. At this point the decision was taken to construct the Schools's own building, in which the School was settled in 1954.

In the 50's and 60's there were changes in the teaching procedures as well as in the research activities. The gradual introduction of Mathematics and the teaching of new courses, such as Transport Phenomena, Chemical Reactor Design, and Unit Operations, upgraded the School, making it known both nationally and internationally, and transformed it into a modern School of Chemical Engineering.

It is worth mentioning that during this period, the research activity grew dramatically and the number of doctoral theses submitted, increased from one, up until 1950, to 16 in the period 1950-60. Since 1960, and through continuous endeavors, the School attained its present character, in an effort to fulfill the needs of the country. The development of the School slowed down during the period of the dictatorship(1967-1974) but the efforts of introducing new concepts continued.

In October 1975, with a Presidential Decree, the School was split into the two following Schools:
- The School of Chemical Engineering;
- The School of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering.

Substantial changes in the way of running the School of Chemical Engineering were the results of Framework Law 1268 of 1982, which concerns the University Education. By this Law the concept of the Chair was abolished and the School was declared as Department of Chemical Engineering, with four Sections, as follows:
I. Chemical Sciences
II. Process Analysis and Plant Design
III. Materials Science and Engineering
IV. Synthesis and Development of Industrial Processes

The School continues its creative work and its efforts to evolve by introducing new courses and by intensifying its research activities. The latter, include basic and applied research, and they materialise through senior research theses, doctoral theses, and research programs carried out by the scientific staff of the Department.

The number of incoming students has increased through the years from 10 per year in the 1940's, to 40 in the 60's, 75 in the 70's, and 160 in the 90's. Thus, the increased needs in laboratory and teaching spaces, made necessary the relocation of the Department, from the Downtown campus to the new installations of the Zographos campus.

The recent evolution of the studies, includes introduction of five undergraduate specializations ("directions"), namely,
- Design;
- Materials;
- Organic Industries;
- Inorganic Industries;
- Food-Biotechnology.

Since the 2002-2003 academic year the Department of Chemical Engineering was declared again as School of Chemical Engineering.