University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest (UPB) is the most important technical university in Romania. Its traditions are connected to the founding of the first higher technical school in 1818 by Gheorghe Lazar. Born in Avrig, Gheorghe Lazar studied in Sibiu, Cluj and Vienna.
In 1817-1818 he endeavoured to convince the local noblemen of the need for supporting a modern national school in the Romanian language.
Thus, on 24 March 1818, by a Royal Edict, the premises of Saint Sava Abbey were converted into the new school. Later, in 1832 this school was reorganized, including four cycles, in accordance with the provisions of the Organic Ordinance.
Among other faculties, the one dealing with exact sciences included courses such as Applied Trigonometry, Geodesy, Mineralogy, Engineering Graphics, Descriptive Geometry, Mechanical Elements Applied to Ordinary Machines, principles of building roads and bridges, elements of architecture, etc. The graduates were obliged either to work for three years for the state, or to return the grant received.
In 1862, the ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza established by another Royal Decree a set of rules for the organization of civil engineers, whereby the hierarchy of engineers or conductors, their salaries, the conditions for admission and promotion were clearly defined.
An important figure in the “School of Bridges, Roads and Mines” was Gheorghe Duca. As early as 1887, he analyzed the content of the courses, identifying the weaknesses of the school, as well as the best solutions to improve its academic level. In those times, a substantial condition was the
severity imposed on the conduct of students, in addition to evaluation. Students obtaining insufficient results, or having an erratic course attendance, were quickly removed from the school.
Indeed, at the beginning, the preparatory year had no admission tests. Starting with 1881, an admission test was introduced; the top priority was the quality of the candidates, the number of the selected ones being less important.
Gheorghe Duca tried and succeeded in bringing the best professors to the “National School of Bridges and Roads”; among them, we should mention David Emanuel (Elementary Mathematics), Spiru Haret (Higher Algebra and Analytical Geometry), C.M. Mironescu (Statistics and Engineering Graphics), Constantin Istrati (Physics), or Anghel Saligny (Bridges and Roads). Moreover, Gheorghe Duca himself was considered the greatest authority in railways at the end of the19th century.
This was perhaps a turning moment, when it was clearly demonstrated that Romania was capable of achieving on its own what had been deemed likely to be obtained only abroad, namely the training of highly qualified science and engineering specialists.
The year 1890 also represented a momentous point, when a new commission was set up at the National School of Bridges and Roads. Its main role was to issue equivalence certificates for the engineering diplomas obtained abroad, thus transforming this national school into a model for evaluating higher technical studies.
Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen was appointed director of the School in February 1920. As a direct result of his endeavour, the government approved the establishment of Polytechnic Schools in Romania, conceived as higher education institutions, similar to universities, having as their final aim engineering training under the Ministry of Public Works.
No surprise, the first Polytechnic School was set up by transforming the “National School of Bridges and Roads” into the “Polytechnic School of Bucharest”. At that initial stage it consisted in four sections: a. Civil Engineering; b. Mechanics and Electricity; c. Mines and Metallurgy; d. The Industrial Section.
At that time, in addition to the Polytechnic School, there were Institutes for Engineers within Universities. For instance, the University of Bucharest hosted an institute for electrical engineering, an institute for industrial chemistry and another one for agricultural and food chemistry.
Another important cornerstone was the Decree No. 3799/1938 stating that higher education could be provided only by Universities, Polytechnic Schools or Academies for Commercial Studies. As a direct result, the Academy of Higher Agricultural Studies, The Academy of Architecture, The Institute of Industrial Chemistry and Agricultural and Food Chemistry, respectively, were introduced in the frame of the “Bucharest POLITEHNICA”.
The change of name from the “Polytechnic School of Bucharest” into the “POLITEHNICA of Bucharest” was accompanied by other changes as well. Thus, POLITEHNICA was subordinated to the Ministry of National Education (instead of the Ministry for Public Works), the former director became Rector of POLITEHNICA, the different sections became Faculties, their presidents, in turn, became Deans, etc.
Between 1938 and 1948 POLITEHNICA of Bucharest had seven faculties: Civil Engineering, Electromechanics, Metallurgy, Industrial Chemistry, Silviculture, Agronomy and Architecture.
Another important transformation took place in 1948, when several faculties or even specialities became independent, or even moved to other towns. So, a lot of universities, institutes or faculties have their roots in the old “POLITEHNICA of Bucharest”.
Thus, the following establishments were initially faculties or departments with the University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest: The University for Civil Engineering Bucharest; the Silviculture Faculty Brasov; The Agronomy Institute Bucharest; The School of Mines Petrosani; The University for Gases and Oil Ploiesti; The Architecture Institute Bucharest; the Faculty for Food Chemistry Galati; the Faculty for Textile Industry Iasi.
The name of our school was “The Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest”. Today, in accordance with the resolution of the Senate (November 1992), The Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest turned into the University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest, preserving the name “POLITEHNICA”, proudly used by generations of students.
With over 190 years of existence, UPB represents one of the fundamental and prestigious institutions of the Romanian higher education, being the main source of technical specialists in Romania. Illustrious personalities, such as Gogu Constantinescu, Elie Carafoli, Costin D. Nenitescu, known worldwide by the scientific community, were professors at the
University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest.