RWTH Aachen University Is Turning 150 Years Old

Four men next to a 3D printer Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

RWTH Aachen University is looking forward to celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020. Teaching began at the "Königliche Rheinisch-Westphälische Polytechnische Schule" in October 1870, not far from what used to be the Templerbend train station in Aachen. Today, RWTH Aachen University is not only an internationally renowned academic institution, but also one of Germany's university of excellence and – numbering 45,000 students – it is the country's largest technical University.


Throughout its 150 year history, RWTH has generated countless innovations and delivered important scientific impulses to benefit society. The celebrations of the anniversary will remind us of this fact while, at the same time, we will also be looking to the future, as university management explained in the presence of Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp at the presentation of the anniversary program.

"When the Polytechnic School was founded in 1870, it was intended to strengthen the creative power of the economy in the region. Today, we would say the power of innovation. One hundred fifty years on, this goal is more relevant than ever," emphasizes Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of RWTH Aachen. "RWTH has developed magnificently over the past one and a half centuries. This is why we want to celebrate together with our families, employees, students, friends, and supporters, as well as everyone who is keen to get to know us better. We would like to look back on the past, but also to the future, – because the next 150 years promise to be just as exciting as the past century and a half."

  Four men holding a red pennant in front of the Super C building Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter

The motto for RWTH's anniversary is "Lernen. Forschen. Machen." With its triad of 'Learning, conducting research, and realizing our ideas,' this perfectly expresses what the University stands for. The "Machen" in our motto, is particularly indicative of the essence of this University – we always keep it in the back of our minds; it is simply a part of our DNA. 'Lernen. Forschen. Machen.' does not stand in isolation, however. This triad is to be understood as a unit that is reflected in all facets of the University. I think this motto fits RWTH to a 't,'" the Rector points out.

In addition to the motto, which will be omnipresent during the anniversary in form of a red picture logo, RWTH has also developed a so-called key visual for the program – an illustration that symbolizes how the different areas of the University campus, including Campus West, have grown together over the years. If the anniversary motto expresses who we are, then the key visual stands for where we want to go," explains Manfred Nettekoven, Chancellor of RWTH.

It is a trademark of RWTH that university members were invited early on to contribute their ideas for the anniversary. "This participation was very important to us, and we are pleased that many ideas originated from the heart of the university," says Professor Stefan Kowalewski, chairman of the RWTH Senate.

And with the city of Aachen, the University had a partner at its side with whom, among other things, a joint exhibition is being launched. "If RWTH has reason to celebrate, then of course so does the city. As a city, we feel involved in the University's network, and if you work together, you can celebrate together. That's why we, as the city of Aachen, are delighted to be taking an active role in the university anniversary," explained Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp. "We are sure that the joint exhibition will be a highlight in the 2020 exhibition calendar.


Here is an overview of the central events and highlights:

The Science Evening

In spring, a Science Evening will be held at the NRW state representation in Berlin to develop impulses for the University of the Future. Under the title "The New Fiction of Good Science - In Need of a Paradigm Shift?" international experts will come together to question the current university system in unusual discussion formats and then propose viable solutions. RWTH will contribute its conceptual capability.

The Festival

What RWTH is capable of, conducts research on, and is involved in, can be experienced at the big University Festival on Saturday, June 20, 2020. RWTH will showcase itself to the public at the central areas and buildings of Campus Central, for example on Templergraben Street or at the C.A.R.L. lecture hall complex. Admission to the event is free. There will be a beautiful finish to the evening with music on a large stage on Templergraben Street. Employees, Students, and the public are cordially invited to celebrate this day together.

The Show

RWTH will celebrate the University's actual start – the first lecture at what was then Rheinisch-Westphälische Polytechnische Schule – precisely 150 years later, on October 10, 2020. A big show is to be staged at several auditoriums in the C.A.R.L. lecture hall complex. Dedicated RWTH staff is currently planning an evening in the style of an evening entertainment show. This will be filled with music and live science, coming to a grand conclusion with a party in the foyer.

The Exhibition

Together with the city of Aachen, RWTH is organizing a special exhibition at the Centre Charlemagne from May 16 to August 9, 2020. The display will provide insights into RWTH's development since its founding and will showcase notable research highlights at the university over the last 150 years. RWTH will, however, also be taking a critical look at its own history. The exhibition will furthermore feature a varied events program.

Further events and projects are being planned.

Image 1

Presentation of RWTH's anniversary picture logo and motto, fresh from the 3D printer. Chairman of the Senate Professor Stefan Kowalewski (from left), Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, Chancellor Manfred Nettekoven, and Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp.

Image 2

Presentation of RWTH's anniversary picture logo and motto in front of the Super C building. Chairman of the Senate Professor Stefan Kowalewski (from left), Lord Mayor Marcel Philipp, Chancellor Manfred Nettekoven, and Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger.

Photos by Andreas Schmitter/RWTH Aachen University.


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