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History and heritage

  • Many École students  (FR only) have had distinguished careers in science, industry, politics and economics.
  • The École Polytechnique has kept its archives and heritage collections since it first opened.

key dates...

The École Centrale des Travaux Publics was founded, which took the name École Polytechnique a year later
Napoleon gave the École a military status and a motto:
"For country, science and honour".
The École became a public establishment overseen by the Ministry of Defence.
  Anne Chopinet, X 1972, major d'entrée
Girls were admitted to the competitive entrance exam
The École was transferred to Palaiseau (south of Paris)
A new competitive entrance exam route was opened to foreigners
The reform of the Polytechnicien cycle fixed the length of the course at 4 years

insigneThe École has been nicknamed X since the mid-19th Century. There are two conflicting explanations: the presence of two crossed cannons on the École's insignia, and the pre-eminence of mathematics in the training of students.

Virtual museum

musée virtuelSee 116 old scientific instruments and 56 portraits of inventors who have taught at the École Polytechnique in our virtual museum.
» access to the virtual museum


sabixThe Society of Friends of the Library and the History of the École Polytechnique is a scholarly society that has worked for the last twenty years to promote the École Polytechnique's heritage and history, along with its scientific teaching and engineer training.
» Website
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