1794-1804: Revolution and Napoleonic Period

École Polytechnique was founded in 1794, under the name École Centrale des Travaux Publics (Central School of Publich Works), as a response to the dearth of engineers and high-level officials in France.
1794-1804: Revolution and Napoleonic Period

Renamed École Polytechnique in 1795, its mission was to provide its students with a well-rounded scientific education with a strong emphasis in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and to prepare them upon graduation to enter the national institutes of public works, such as École d’Application de l’Artillerie et du Génie (School of Artillery and Engineering Applications), École des Mines, and École nationale des ponts et chausses (National School of Bridges and Roadways).

1792-1795 : National Convention, founding of the 1st French Republic

March 11, 1794 

Establishment of École Centrale des Travaux Publics which would be renamed École Polytechnique one year later, on September 1, 1795. The school moved into the former Bourbon Palace buildings, prestigious teachers were appointed as its professors, and its students were recruited from all regions of France through a selective entrance exam.


Publication of the first issue of the Journal de l’École Polytechnique.

1795-1799 : French Directory and end of the Revolution


A decree passed in August of 1796 designates a team of three to five admissions officials to oversee the selection of candidates via competitive exams held throughout France. At this time, École Polytechnique is not yet placed under the Ministry of Defense, and the students are not housed on campus.


Arriving from northern Europe in 1798, the very first foreign students begin attending École Polytechnique.

Around 50 École Polytechnique students, along with a dozen professors and faculty members, accompany General Napoleon Bonaparte on his excursion to Egypt. Many of their scientific remarks are included in the valuable Description of Egyptseries of texts.