History of KIT
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.)