Technische Universität Berlin

People of Technische Universität Berlin and Its Predecessor Institutions

Many internationally renowned figures have emerged from Technische Universität Berlin and its predecessor Technische Hochschule Berlin, pioneering the cause of both science and the University itself. Their impact can be felt beyond the university campus and Berlin. Figures such as Konrad Zuse, inventor of the world’s first functional computer, Herta Hammerbacher, the first female architect at the University, and Eugene Paul Wigner, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, not only shaped research and teaching at their university but also left their mark on the international research landscape through their scientific discoveries and wealth of ideas.

University management and committees have advanced the University’s national and international competitiveness through numerous reforms.

Pioneers of science and the University
Catalogus Professorum
Rectors, presidents, and vice presidents since 1946

Selected pioneers and their stories

© Universitätsarchiv

The lover of details

Ernst Ruska (1906-1988) received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988 for the development of the first electron microscope. He studied at Technische Hochschule zu Berlin and began teaching at Technische Universität Berlin in 1949.

© Universitätsarchiv

The virtuoso

Herta Hammerbacher (1900-1985) was the first female professor appointed to the faculty of architecture of Technische Universität Berlin in 1950. Her landscape and garden designs were ahead of their time.

© Privatarchiv Horst Zuse

The inventor

Konrad Zuse (1910-1995) studied at Technische Hochschule zu Berlin. With the “Z3” he developed the world’s first programmable computer, ushering in the computer age.

© Universitätsarchiv

The woman of purpose

Clara von Simson (1897-1983) completed her Habilitation in physics at Technische Universität Berlin in 1951, the first woman to do so. She strongly supported anchoring the integration of technical thinking and humanistic education in the curriculum at the new university.

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The draftsman

Franz Reuleaux (1829-1905) served as rector of the Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin from 1890-1891. As a technical scientist, he freed machine technology from manual experimentation and established it on a mathematical and scientific foundation.

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The radioman

Adolf Slaby (1849-1913) was appointed professor of theory of machines and electrical engineering at Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin in 1882 and served as rector from 1894-1895. He is credited with the start of the industrial exploitation of "spark telegraphy".

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The architect

Hans Sharoun (1893-1972) studied architecture at Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin and taught urban development at Technische Universität Berlin. He is best known for designing the post-war Berlin Philharmonie and Berlin State Library located on Potsdamer Straße.

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The pioneer

Georg Schlesinger (1874-1949) studied at Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin and took up the newly founded Chair of Machine Tools and Factory Management in 1904. Schlesinger is considered the founder of modern factory organization and production science.

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The Geiger counter

Hans Geiger (1882-1945) was director of the Physics Institute of Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin. Together with his colleague Walter Müller, he invented the Geiger-Müller counter used to measure radioactive particles and determine their energy level.

© Nobel Foundation archive

The quantum physicist

Gustav Hertz (1887-1975) arrived at Technische Hochschule zu Berlin in 1927, one year after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics, and established the new Institute of Physics here. He brilliantly combined applied research with basic principles.

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The first in her discipline

Elisabeth von Knobelsdorff (1877-1959) was the first female architecture student and Diplomingenieurin (graduate engineer) at Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin. She was active in exhibitions advocating the role of women in society.

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The networker

Walter Höllerer (1922-2003) was appointed professor of literature at Technische Universität Berlin. He was also a poet, publisher of literary journals, and the founder of the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin.

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The whirlwind

Hermann Föttinger (1877-1945) was appointed professor at Technische Hochschule zu Berlin in 1924. The physicist was the first to hold a chair of fluid mechanics in Germany and developed automatic transmission.

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The nuclear physicist

Eugene Paul Wigner (1902-1995) studied and taught at Technische Hochschule zu Berlin. In 1963 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on symmetry principles in nuclear and elementary particle physics.

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The practician

Alois Riedler (1850-1936) is the founder of modern technical drawing. In 1888, he was appointed professor of mechanical engineering at the Königlich Technische Hochschule zu Berlin. He was a pioneer in practical scientific engineering training.

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The music esthete

Carl Dahlhaus (1928-1989) began teaching as professor of musicology at Technische Universität Berlin in 1967. He enriched his discipline with historical theory, music aesthetics, music theory, and music analysis.