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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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Administrative staff


+49 721 6080

Holger Hanselka

Renate Schubert


76131 Karlsruhe, Germany

Total enrollment
23,351 (2016)


Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Fridericiana Polytechnic: 1825 TU Karlsruhe: 1865 KIT: October 1, 2009

Louis I, Grand Duke of Baden

1 October 2009, Karlsruhe, Germany

Notable alumni
Karl Benz, Dieter Zetsche, Leopold Ružička, Edward Teller, Klaus Tschira

Technical University of Munich, Technische Universität Darmstadt, RWTH Aachen University, Ludwig Maximilian University, Karlsruhe University of Applie


Icra 2013 technical tour at karlsruhe institute of technology kit

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) (German: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie) is a public research university and one of the largest research and education institutions in Germany.


KIT was created in 2009 when the University of Karlsruhe (Universität Karlsruhe), founded in 1825 as public research university and also known as "Fridericiana", merged with the Karlsruhe Research Center Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, which was originally established as a national nuclear research center (Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe, or KfK) in 1956.

KIT is one of the leading universities in the Engineering and Natural Sciences in Europe, ranking sixth overall in citation impact. KIT is a member of the TU9 German Institutes of Technology e.V. As part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative KIT was accredited with the excellence status in 2006. In the 2011 performance ranking of scientific papers, Karlsruhe ranked first in Germany and among the top ten universities in Europe in engineering and natural sciences.

In the 2015 QS World University Rankings the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology achieved 93rd place in the global ranking across all disciplines and 62nd and 34th place in engineering and natural sciences, respectively. In the 2013 Taiwan ranking, KIT (world rank 61) remained the best German University in the engineering and natural sciences, ranked in the engineering sciences ahead of the RWTH Aachen (world rank 89), the Technical University of Munich (world rank 94) and the Technical University of Dresden (world rank 108). For the natural sciences KIT (world rank 51) led the domestic comparison against the LMU Munich (world rank 62), the University of Heidelberg (world rank 72) and the Technical University of Munich (world rank 81). Ranked 26th place in Computer Science in the Times Higher Education Ranking 2016, KIT is one of the leading universities in Computer Science in Europe as well as the world.

As of 2016, 6 Nobel laureates are affiliated with KIT. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is well known for many inventors and entrepreneurs such as Karl Friedrich Benz or the founders of SAP.

Studying at kit international students

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. 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. 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. The necessary state law was passed on 8 July 2009. 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's 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 industrial engineering and management (27% of admissions in 2008), 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. A substantial drop-out rate occurs for some engineering courses due to the immense study requirement to pass the prerequisites.

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) 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", and "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.

In 1979, the Interfakultatives Institut für Anwendungen der Informatik (Interfaculty Institute for Applications of Informatics) 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). 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) 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 dm-drogerie markt.

In 2001, the Centre for Functional Nanostructures (CFN) 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) was established in 2006 as a publicly funded project by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft 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, which provides scholarship for master's degrees and PhD under the European Commission's prestigious Erasmus Mundus cooperation and mobility program.

KIT operates several TCCON stations as part of an international collaborative effort of measuring greenhouse gases globally. One station is near campus.


KIT is one of the leading universities in the engineering and natural sciences in Europe, ranking sixth overall in citation impact. KIT is a member of the TU9 German Institutes of Technology e.V. As part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative KIT was accredited with the excellence status in 2006. In the 2011 performance-ranking of scientific papers, Karlsruhe ranked first in Germany and among the top 10 universities in Europe in engineering and natural sciences. In the 2013 QS World University Rankings, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology achieved 116th place in the global ranking across all disciplines and 33rd place in the engineering sciences. In the 2013 Taiwan ranking, KIT leads as best German university in the engineering and natural sciences. As in 2012, KIT (world rank 61) remained ranked as the top university for engineering sciences in Germany, before the RWTH Aachen (world rank 89), the Technical University of Munich (world rank 94) and the Technical University of Dresden (world rank 108). For the natural sciences, KIT (world rank 51) leads the domestic comparison against the LMU Munich (world rank 62), the University of Heidelberg (world rank 72), and the Technical University of Munich (world rank 81).

According to the Ranking of Scientific Impact of Leading European Research Universities, an official document compiled by the European Commission, Karlsruhe ranks second nationally and sixth in Europe in terms of scholarly impact.

With the exception of the department of biology, this university receives more funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft than any other university specializing in the natural sciences in Germany. 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 industrial engineering and management, concerning the overall study situation, as well as popularity with employers.

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). In 1998, Science Watch described its chemistry faculty as belonging to "the cream of the crop in chemistry" internationally.

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 an international reputation.

In the 2012 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the university was ranked 151st in the world.

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%[email protected].

    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 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 Management

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

    Famous people and discoveries

  • Karl Benz (1844–1929), the inventor of the automobile, a graduate who also received an honorary Ph.D. in 1914
  • Karl Ferdinand Braun (1850–1918), who developed the cathode ray tube in 1897, which is widely used in televisions, in 1909 he received the Nobel Prize for the invention
  • Wolfgang Gaede (1878–1945), who founded vacuum technology
  • Fritz Haber (1868–1934), who developed the high-pressure synthesis of ammonia in 1909 and won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918
  • Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857–1894) discovered electromagnetic waves in 1887, which are the basis of radio, (and after whom the SI unit of frequency, hertz is named)
  • Otto Lehmann (1855–1922), the founder of liquid crystal research
  • Wilhelm Nusselt (1882–1957), the co-founder of technical thermodynamics
  • Ferdinand Redtenbacher (1809–1863), founder of mechanical engineering in Germany
  • Franz Grashof (1826–1893), who made significant contribution to free convection, the Grashof Number was named after him
  • Roland Scholl (1865–1945), discovered coronene and contributed significantly to the field of organic chemistry in general
  • Hermann Staudinger (1881–1965), who won in 1953 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry
  • Wilhelm Steinkopf (1879–1949), co-developer of a method for the mass production of mustard gas during World War I
  • Edward Teller (1908–2003), who is known as the originator of the hydrogen bomb
  • Karl Heun (1859–1929), numerical Integration and solutions to differential equations. Discovery of the Heun method.
  • Leopold Ružička (1887 –1976), winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • Georg von Hevesy (1886 –1966), winner of the 1943 Nobel Prize for his key role in the development of radioactive tracers to study chemical processes such as in the metabolism of animals.
  • Presidents

  • 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
  • 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: Professor Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka
  • Points of interest

  • Botanischer Garten der Universität Karlsruhe, the university's botanical garden
  • References

    Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Wikipedia

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