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"EPFL" redirects here. For the sports organization, see European Professional Football Leagues.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Established 1853
Type Public
Budget 803 millions CHF [1]
President Patrick Aebischer
Undergraduates 4,891 (2012) [2]
Postgraduates 4,267 (2012)

Écublens (near Lausanne), Vaud, Switzerland
46°31′13″N 6°33′56″E / 46.52028°N 6.56556°E / 46.52028; 6.56556Coordinates: 46°31′13″N 6°33′56″E / 46.52028°N 6.56556°E / 46.52028; 6.56556

Campus Urban
Nationalities 100+

The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, English: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology and is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The school was founded by the Swiss Federal Government with the stated mission to:

  • Educate engineers and scientists
  • Be a national center of excellence in science and technology
  • Provide a hub for interaction between the scientific community and industry

EPFL is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland; the sister institution in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich). Associated with several specialised research institutes, the two universities form the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain), which is directly dependent on the Federal Department of Home Affairs. In connection with research and teaching activities, EPFL operates a nuclear reactor CROCUS, a Tokamak Fusion reactor, a Blue Gene/Q Supercomputer and P3 bio-hazard facilities.


The school was founded in 1853 as a private school under the name École spéciale de Lausanne at the initiative of Lois Rivier, a graduate of École Centrale Paris and John Gay, the then professor and rector of the Académie de Lausanne. At its inception it had only eleven students and the offices was located at Rue du Valentin in Lausanne. In 1869, it became the technical department of the public Académie de Lausanne. When the Académie was reorganized and acquired the status of a university in 1890, the technical faculty changed its name to École d'ingénieurs de l'Université de Lausanne. In 1946, it was renamed the École polytechnique de l'Université de Lausanne (EPUL). In 1969, the EPUL was separated from the rest of the University of Lausanne and became a federal institute under its current name. EPFL, like ETHZ, is thus directly controlled by the Swiss federal government. In contrast, all other universities in Switzerland are controlled by their respective cantonal governments.

In 1946, there were 360 students. In 1969, EPFL had 1,400 students and 55 professors. In the past two decades the university has grown rapidly and as of 2012 roughly 14,000 people study or work on campus, about 9,300 of these beings Bachelor, Master or PhD students. As EPFL first became a federal institute under its current name in 1969, with a student body of then less than 1500, the university is included in the Times Higher Education list of top 100 universities under 50 years old. The environment at modern day EPFL is highly international with the school now attracting top students and researchers from all over the world. More than 100 countries are represented on the campus and the university has two official languages, French and English.

Following the nomination of Patrick Aebischer as president in 2000, EPFL has started to develop into the field of life sciences. It absorbed the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) in 2008.


EPFL is considered to be among the worlds most prestigious universities in technology. The three most influential and widely observed international university rankings, QS World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities and THE World University Rankings ranks EPFL #4, #2 and #5 respectively in the field of Engineering and Technology in Europe in their 2013-2014 rankings. In the rankings EPFL competes with Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College London and its rival sister-institution, ETH Zurich, for the European top five spots in Engineering and Technology.

QS World University Ranking 2013 ranks EPFL #19 in the world, reaching #8 in engineering and #13 in the natural science subcategories.[3] Academic Ranking of World Universities 2013 ranks EPFL #13 in the world and #2 in Europe in the Engineering, Technology and Computer Sciences subcatagory, behind Cambridge and notably ahead of ETH Zurich and American namebrand universities such as Caltech and Princeton.[4] THE World University Rankings 2013-2014 ranks EPFL #37 in the world and #15 in the engineering subcategory.[5]

EPFL typically scores high on faculty to student ratio, international outlook and scientific impact. The specialized CWTS Leiden Ranking[6] that "aims to provide highly accurate measurements of the scientific impact of universities" ranks EPFL #13 in the world and #1 in Europe in the 2013 rankings.

The reputation of EPFL as a strong research institution has been further strengthened by a number of high-profile projects, the most notable of these being the Blue Brain Project that in 2013 secured a 0.5 Billion Euro Flagship Grant from the European Commission.[7]


Originally, EPFL was in the center of Lausanne. In 1978, EPFL moved to its new campus at Dorigny, in Écublens, a suburb south-west of Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. In 2002, the department of architecture also moved to the campus in Écublens, uniting all departments of EPFL on the same site.

Together with the University of Lausanne, the EPFL forms a vast campus, welcoming about 20,000 students, at the shores of Lake Geneva. The campus is served by the Lausanne Metro Line 1 (M1) and is equipped with a bicycle sharing system.[8]


The campus consists of about 65 buildings on 136 acres. Built according to the growth of the school, the campus includes different types of architectures:

  • Late 1970s-1980s: modularized building, used today by the Schools of Basic Sciences and Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
  • 1990s: buildings with institutes from the Schools of Engineering Sciences and Techniques, Computer and Communication Sciences, and the Scientific Park (PSE)
  • Modern: new buildings (2002-2004) with Microengineering, Communications and Architecture institutes, the School of Life Sciences and the College of Management.
  • The Learning Center, a new library (2010)

The EPFL and the University of Lausanne also share an active sports centre five minutes away from EPFL, on the shores of Lake Geneva.[9]


Facilities are available on the campus for the students and staff:

  • Libraries: the Learning Center
  • Restaurants: Le Copernic and La Table de Vallotton
  • Cafeterias: La Coupole, Le Corbusier, Le Parmentier, Le Vinci, BMX (Bâtiment des matériaux), BC (Bâtiment des communications), L'Arcadie, Le Hodler, Le Klee, L'Ornithorynque
  • Bar: Satellite
  • Travel agencies: Swiss Federal Railways and STA Travel
  • Banks: Credit Suisse and PostFinance
  • Radio: Fréquence Banane (student radio)
  • Conference centre: the Swiss Tech Convention Center
  • Museum: Musée Bolo
  • Museum: Archizoom

Other sites

Almost all of the structures of the EPFL are located on its main campus. However, it also has a branch ("Microcity") in Neuchâtel. The creation of branches in the cantons of Valais ("Pôle EPFL Valais"),[10] of Fribourg ("Smart Living Lab") and of Geneva ("Campus Biotech", including a Wyss Institute) are planned.

The EPFL also has a project of research centre in Ras al-Khaimah (United Arab Emirates), EPFL Middle East.[11]

Students and traditions

The school encourages the formation of associations and sports activities on campus. As of 2012 more than 79 associations exists on campus for recreational and social purposes. The school has its own monthly newspaper, Flash.

Several music festivals are held yearly at EPFL. The most important one is the Balélec Festival, organized in May. It proposes about 30 concerts and welcomes 15,000 visitors. Other smaller festivals include Sysmic organized in April by the students of the Department of Microengineering, hosting two stages for local and national bands, and Artiphys, organized by the students of the Physics Department.

EPFL maintains several long-standing student exchange programs, such as the junior year engineering and science program with Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, as well as a graduate Aeronautics and Aerospace program with the ISAE in France.

Scientific partners

  • EPFL is the official scientific advisor of Alinghi, twice winners of the America's cup 2003 and 2007.
  • Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range solar powered aircraft project developed at EPFL, the project eventual hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the world using only solar power.
  • The Hydroptère, is an experimental sailing hydrofoil that in 2009 broke the world speed sailing record, sustaining a speed of 52.86 knots (97.90 km/h; 60.83 mph) for 500m in 30 knots of wind[12]
  • EPFL contributed to the construction of SwissCube-1.[13] It is the first satellite entirely built in Switzerland. It was put into orbit on September 23, 2009 by the Indian launcher PSLV.
  • To better understand the relationship between nutrition and the brain, EPFL and the Nestlé research center has signed a five year agreement providing 5 million CHF each year for the creation of two new chairs at the EPFL Brain Mind Institute.
  • Logitech and EPFL has announced the creation of the EPFL Logitech Incubator that will provide financial, educational and operational support in entrepreneurship to researchers and students.
  • Breitling Orbiter became the first balloon to circumnavigate the earth non-stop in march 1999. The balloon was piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones.
  • The Human Brain Project is the successor of the EPFL Blue Brain Project. The project is directed by EPFL and involves 86 institutions across Europe. The total cost is estimated at 1.190 million euros.[14]


EPFL is organised into seven schools, themselves formed of institutes that group research units (laboratories or chairs) around common themes.

EPFL is constituted of the following schools:

  • School of Basic Sciences (SB, Thomas Rizzo) mathematics, physics and chemistry
    • Mathematics Institute of Computational Science and Engineering (MATHICSE, Alfio Quarteroni)
    • Mathematics institute of Analysis and Applications (MATHAA, Anthony Davison)
    • Mathematics Institute of Geometry and Applications, (MATHGEOM, Eva Bayer-Fluckiger)
    • Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering (ISIC, Paul Dyson)
    • Institute of Physics of Energy and Particles (IPEP, Minh Quang Tran)
    • Institute of Condensed Matter Physics (IPMC, Wolf-Dieter Schneider)
    • Institute of Physics of Biological Systems (IPSB, Giovanni Dietler)
    • Institute of Physical Sciences (SPH-GE, Jean-Philippe Ansermet)
    • Institute of Quantum Electronics and Photonics (IPEQ, Benoît Deveaud-Plédran)
    • Institute of Theoretical Physics (ITP, Alfonso Baldereschi)
    • Institute of Computational Condensed Matter Physics (IRRMA, Alfonso Baldereschi)
    • Interdisciplinary Center for Electron Microscopy (CIME, Cécile Hébert)
    • Center for Research In Plasma Physics (CRPP, Minh Quang Tran)
    • PRN Quantum Photonics (PRN-QP, Benoît Deveaud-Plédran)
    • Bernoulli Center (CIB, Tudor Ratiu)
  • School of Engineering (STI, Demetri Psaltis) Electrical Engineering, Mechanical engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Microengineering, Bioengineering
    • Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEL, Giovanni De Micheli)
    • Institute of Mechanical Engineering (IGM, Daniel Favrat)
    • Institute of Materials (IMX, Andreas Mortensen)
    • Institute of Microengineering(IMT, Nico de Rooij)
    • Institute of Bioengineering (IBI, Jeff Hubbell)
  • School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC, Marilyne Andersen, Dean) Architecture, Civil engineering, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
    • Institute of Architecture (IA, Luca Ortelli)
    • Civil Engineering Institute (IIC, Eugen Brühwiler)
    • Institute of Urban and Regional Sciences (INTER, Philippe Thalmann)
    • Environmental Engineering Institute (IIE, Andrea Rinaldo)
  • computer science and information technology
  • IC Research Areas
    • Algorithms & Theoretical Computer Science
    • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
    • Computational Biology
    • Computer Architecture & Integrated Systems
    • Data Management & Information Retrieval
    • Graphics & Vision
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Information & Communication Theory
    • Networking
    • Programming Languages & Formal Methods
    • Security & Cryptography
    • Signal & Image Processing
    • Systems
  • School of Life Sciences (SV, Jeffrey Hubbell)
    • Bachelor-Master Teaching Section in Life Sciences and Technologies (SSV)
    • Brain Mind Institute (BMI, Carmen Sandi)
    • Institute of Bioengineering (IBI, Melody Swartz)
    • Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC, Douglas Hanahan)
    • Global Health Institute (GHI, Stewart T. Cole)
    • Ten Technology Platforms & Core Facilities (PTECH)
    • Center for Phenogenomics (CPG)
    • NCCR Synaptic Bases of Mental Diseases (NCCR-SYNAPSY)
  • College of Management of Technology (CDM, Philippe Gillet)
    • Swiss Finance Institute at EPFL (CDM-SFI, Damir Filipovic)
    • Program of Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship (CDM-PMTE, Christopher Tucci)
    • Chair of Entrepreneurship and Technology Commercialization (CDM-ENTC, Marc Gruber)
    • Institute of Logistics, Economy and Management of Technology (ILEMT, Dominique Foray)
    • Management of Technology EPFL - UNIL (CMT, Francis-Luc Perret)
  • College of Humanities (CDH, Francesco Panese)
    • Human and social sciences teaching program (CDH-SHS, Eric Junod)

Notable alumni

Doctorates honoris causa

The EPFL has awarded a doctorate honoris causa to several people:

Notable professors

  • Jacques Lévy (Professor, Chôros Laboratory)
  • Álvaro Siza Vieira, Portuguese architect, (Guest Professor, Architecture), Pritzker Prize 1992
  • Amin Shokrollahi (Professor, Computer Science and Communication Systems and Mathematics. Best known for the invention of Raptor Codes)
  • Arjen Lenstra (Professor, cryptographic algorithms)
  • Claude Nicollier (Professor, spatial technology and astronaut)
  • Daniel Thalmann (Professor, Computer Science and Communication Systems, Pioneer in Virtual Humans)
  • Dario Floreano (Professor, intelligent systems)
  • David Chipperfield, British architect, (Guest Professor, Architecture)
  • Denis Duboule (Professor, Life Sciences)
  • Eduardo Souto de Moura, Portuguese architect, (Guest Professor, Architecture), Pritzker Prize 2011
  • Emre Telatar (Leading Information theorist and Professor,Information Theory)
  • Francisco Mangado, Spanish architect, (Guest Professor, Architecture)
  • Giovanni De Micheli (Professor, integrated systems)
  • Henry Markram (Professor, neurology)
  • Herbert Shea (Professor, Microsystems for Space Technologies Laboratory)
  • Jean-Daniel Nicoud (Professor, computer science, inventor of the modern ball mouse)
  • Jean-Yves Le Boudec (Professor, networking systems and performance evaluation)
  • Jeffrey Alan Hubbell (Professor, biotechnology and bioengineering)
  • János Pach (Professor, Mathematics, One of the few living Mathematicians with Erdos Number 1)
  • Luigi Snozzi
  • Lyesse Laloui (Professor and director of Laboratory of Soil Mechanics, et directeur du programme doctoral en Mécanique )
  • Martin Hasler (Professor, Computer and Communication Sciences, Laboratory of Nonlinear Systems)
  • Martin Odersky (Professor, programming methods, inventor of Scala (programming language))
  • School of Computer and Communication Sciences EPFL and President of the National Research Council at Swiss National Science Foundation)
  • Michael Grätzel (Professor, Photonics and Interfaces Sciences, Inventor of the dye-sensitized solar cells)
  • Mikhail Shaposhnikov (Professor, Theoretical Physics)
  • Minh Quang Tran (Professor, physics of energy and particles)
  • Pierre-André Farine (Professor, Electronics and Signal Processing Laboratory)
  • Reymond Clavel (Professor, robotics and micro engineering, inventor of the Delta robot)
  • Riccardo Rattazzi (Professor, Theoretical Physics)
  • Rüdiger Urbanke (Professor in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences EPFL, Coding, Communications and Information Theory)
  • Serge Vaudenay (Professor, security and cryptography)
  • Stefan Behnisch, German architect, (Guest Professor, Architecture)

Associated institutions

  • Swiss Cancer Centre
  • Center for Biomedical Imaging (CIBM)[19]
  • Centre for Advanced Modelling Science (CADMOS)[20]
  • École cantonale d'art de Lausanne (ECAL)
  • Campus Biotech
    • Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuro-engineering
  • Swiss National Supercomputing Centre


Buildings and campus

Projects and partnerships

Partner universities

The EPFL has 179 partner universities around the globe.[21]




Notes and references

See also

Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) Domain

2012 budget (millions of CHF)

ETH Domain



Federal institutes of technology


Federal research institutes


External links

  • Official website
  • Official portrait
  • YouTube
  • Associations at EPFL
  • EPFL virtual tour

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