The History of the École Centrale

The foundation of the École Centrale

At the beginning of the 19th century, it became imperative for French industry to accompany the industrial age and favors the development of practical applications arising from recent major scientific discoveries.

A. Lavallée In order to do this, it was necessary to provide engineers with a solid training in both industry and the sciences: in 1829, the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures was created by four persons with a particularly open minded approach to the development of Industrial Sciences.

Alphonse LAVALLÉE, a businessman from Nantes, put his personal fortune into the creation of this Ecole, an entirely private affair, so that "the doctors of factories and mills" could be trained.

He took on widely renowned scientists and scholars such as Jean-Baptiste DUMAS, Théodore OLIVIER and Eugène PÉCLET, who became the first professors.

JB. Dumas T. Olivier E. Peclet

The different localities of the École Centrale

Installed in Paris by Alphonse LAVALLÉE in the Hôtel de Juigné (or the Hôtel Salé, that has since become the Musée Picasso) in the Marais district, the Ecole moved in 1884 to rue Montgolfier next to the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers; finally in 1969, it moved to Châtenay-Malabry, in the southern outskirts of Paris, on a purpose-built campus of 18 ha near the Parc de Sceaux.

Projets de concours réalisés au XIXe siècle Projets de concours réalisés au XIXe siècle Projets de concours réalisés au XIXe siècle

The History of the École over the years

Gustave Eiffel Twenty years after its creation, the young engineering graduates of Ecole Centrale occupied leading positions in industry, where they attracted attention by their sense of innovation, their team spirit, and their competence as managers.

Every major industrial sector was launched and developed under the impulse of Centraliens. One only has to take a look at the Portrait Gallery of the Alumni (to be convinced: BLÉRIOT (1895), EIFFEL (1855), LATECOËRE (1906), LECLANCHÉ (1860), MICHELIN (1877), PEUGEOT (1895), SCHLUMBERGER (1907)... all left their mark in the history of industrial development at the end of the 19th century, and today are considered as references for creativity and success.


The École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures was founded by four prominent figures: Alphonse Lavallé, Jean-Baptiste Dumas, Théodore Olivier and Eugène Péclet.


Centraliens spread the model of the École Centrale beyond the frontiers of France: the Faculté Polytechnique de Mons in Belgium, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland are the first to be rapidly created.


The Centraliens form an association, the Société Centrale des Ingénieurs Civils . A new "social system", and the engineers start to get organized.


In order to ensure its perenniality, A. LAVALLÉE donates the École Centrale to the French State.


The qualification of "Ingénieur des Arts et Manufactures" is created.


The first woman graduates from the École.


The school requests its inscription in the National budget; it is now within the higher education system, with its own legal status and financial autonomy.


Centrale Paris moved to its Châtenay-Malabry campus, near Parc de Sceaux.


The third-year curriculum was overhauled, creating "career paths".


École Centrale Beijing was founded.


New Centrale Educational Project.

Creation of the new College of Engineering: CentraleSupélec:


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