History of the Department

Today – 2000

2017 Degree programme Biomedical Engineering (Medizintechnik) established in cooperation with the department for Medicine of Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.
2016 Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gerhard Sessler is awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
2013 The first German chair for Bioinspired Communication Systems is established and is occupied by Prof. Heinz Koeppl.
2010 Gerhard Sessler is awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal which had also been granted to Thomas A. Edison, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking before.
2007 T. Hartkopf, professor at TU Darmstadt and board member of EnBW, and his team develop the energy systems of TU Darmstadt's solar houses. These two solar houses win the Solar Decathlon of the USA in 2007 and 2009.
2007 etit's 125 year anniversary. Replacement of the old diploma course of studies with the BSc/MSc degree programme.
2003 International Master's degree programme “Electrical Power Engineering” is established.
2003 MIT honors Rolf Isermann, professor at TU Darmstadt (1977-2006), as the world's most important and best representative for the highly innovative field of mechatronics, and adds him to the top ten list of scientists whose developments will have an enduring effect on people's lives and work environments.
2001 First international Master's degree programme “Information and Communication Engineering” is established.

1999 – 1975

1999 M. Anders, E. Andresen and A. Binder develop the Linear Power Train of NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
1999 Gerhard Sessler, Professor at TU Darmstadt (1975-1999), is included in the National Hall of Fame of the USA for the invention of the Electret Microphone, with J. E. West. Today, the Electret Microphone is the most popular microphone, commonly used e.g. in mobile phones and tape recorders.
1996 The first chair for Renewable Energy in Germany is established and occupied by Prof. T. Hartkopf.
1990 The first electric vehicle “Pinky” (developed at TU Darmstadt) wins the world championship for solar vehicles in 1990, 1991 and 1992. It is exhibited in the “Deutsches Museum” in Munich today.
1988 W. Langheinrich and O. Kindl develop cryogenic temperature CMOS technology for cameras in the European Space Agency's (ESA) Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) [8].
1988 Inception of the DFG-Collaborative Research Center “New integrated mechanical electrical systems for mechanical engineering”, initiated and chaired by Rolf Isermann [11], doyen of mechatronics. This research center is pioneering the development of mechatronics in Germany.
1983 G. Sessler and D. Hohm invent the silicon microphone.
1977 T. Weiland develops Finite Integration Theory. Amongst other things, it allows the computation of electromagnetic fields in the human body.

1974 – 1950

1968 K. Hasse invents Field-Oriented Control, which is fundamental to modern three-phase motors, e.g. in the ICE (InterCity Express), wind power generators or hybrid power automobiles.
1964 R. Piloty is appointed and initiates the first courses of study in Computer Science in Germany.
1963 Germany's first chair for Power Electronics is established.
1963 Germany's first chair for Electromechanical Design ,a preliminary field of mechatronics, is established.
1954 Germany's first chair for Control Engineering is established in 1957. Winfried Oppelt [12] becomes its head.
1952 Karl Küpfmüller is appointed professor as the successor to Hans Busch [2,9]. Beginning in 1924, he developed the theory of signals and systems for Communications Engineering.

1949 – 1925

1946 The first International Conference on Engineering Education takes place at TU Darmstadt. All participants commit to research and education for peaceful purposes only.
1935 T. Schultes [2] develops one of the first RADAR early-warning systems. He studied Electrical Engineering from 1921 until 1926 and received a doctorate in Physics in 1934.
1933 The University is brought in line with national policy during the National Socialist Dictatorship (1933-1945).
1930 Professor Hans Busch [2,3,5,8] is appointed as professor. He establishes Electron Optics and therewith creates the theoretical foundation for the Electron Microscope.
1929 Kurt H. Debus [10] studied Electrical Engineering beginning in 1929. He received his PhD in 1939, and was an assistant professor until 1944. From 1962 until 1974, he was the head of NASA´s John F. Kennedy Space Center where he was responsible for launching all Apollo missions including the moon landing missions.

1924 – 1900

1914 W. Petersen [2], Kittlers successor from 1914 until 1933, establishes High Voltage Technology and invents the “Erdschluß-Löschspule” (an accidental ground inductor), which is exhibited in the “Deutsches Museum” in Munich today.
1907 R. Goldschmidt studied electrical engineering and was a PhD student of E. Kittler until 1907. He then was a lecturer and a professor at TU Darmstadt from 1907 until 1911. During this time, he developed the technology of the first radio transmission line [2] between the USA and Germany. Later, he invented a hearing aid together with Albert Einstein.

1899 – 1882

1894 K. Wirtz is appointed as the first Chair for Communications Engineering in Germany.
1891 Michael von Dolivo-Dobrowolsky [1,2,3,4,5,6,7] performs the world's first long distance transmission of electrical energy with 15,000 volts over 175 km. He studied Electrical Engineering at TU Darmstadt (1883-1884), and worked as a research associate of Erasmus Kittler from 1885 until 1887. In 1888, he invented the first running three-phase motor with AEG, which is exhibited in the “Deutsches Museum” in Munich today. Dolivo-Dobrowolski coined the term “three-phase current”.
1884 Carl Hering [3], a mechanical engineer from the USA, commences his studies in Electrical Engineering in 1884 as the first research associate of Erasmus Kittler. In 1902 he becomes co-founder of the American Electrochemical Society and in 1908 he develops the “Heringscher Versuch” (“Hering's Experiment”).
1883 Foundation of the world's first course of study in Electrical Engineering [1,4]. The course extends over four years of study with a final examination.
1883 TU Darmstadt is the world's first university to establish a School of Electrical Engineering [1].
1882 Foundation of the world's first chair for Electrical Engineering worldwide [1,2,3,4] and appointment of Professor Erasmus Kittler.


[1] W. König: Technikwissenschaften. Chur: Fakultas, 1995.
[2] K. Jäger: Lexikon der Elektrotechniker. Berlin: VDE-Verlag, 1996.
[3] G. Neidhöfer: Michael von Dolivo-Dobrowolsky und der Drehstrom. Berlin: VDE-Verlag, 2004.
[4] T.P. Hughes: Networks of power: electrification in the Western society. JHU Press, 1993.
[5] Propyläen Weltgeschichte. Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1964.
[6] Propyläen Technikgeschichte. Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1997.
[7] G. Neidhöfer: Early three-phase power, IEEE Power and Energy Magazine 5(5) pp. 88-100, 2007.
[8] Brockhaus Naturwissenschaft und Technik. Heidelberg: Bibliographisches Institut, 2003.
[9] Lexikon der Physik, Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 1998-2000.
[10] C. McGlesky und O. Christensen: Launching a Vision. Proc. of 52nd International Astronautical Congress, Toulouse, 2001.
[11] Rolf Isermann. IEEE Control Systems Magazine 4(31) pp. 29-31, 2011.
[12] G. Schmidt und C.C. Bissell: An Exhibition That Has Yet to Be. IEEE Control Systems Magazine 5(33) pp. 67-71, 2013.