USM was founded in Valparaíso on 27 April, 1926, when the Federico Santa María Foundation was established, thanks to his Will and Testament. The entrepreneur and businessman from Valparaíso wanted to leave his country with a center of scientific and technological studies, to train professionals at the highest level.
On 20 December, 1931, the Crafts School and the Engineering College "José Miguel Carrera" were inaugurated with academic activity starting in 1932. In 1935, the Foundation was officially named Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María.
In the 1970's the university started a university technician training program in the area of science and technology, with the establishment of the Viña del Mar branch "José Miguel Carrera", and the Concepción branch "Rey Balduino de Bélgica".
In 1995, the first Campus in Santiago (Vitacura) opened. In 1996, the USM Campus Guayaquil opened in Ecuador, making it the first Chilean University to open a campus abroad.
In 2000, USM and Lan Chile joined to found the Aeronautical Sciences Academy (ACA) at the Santiago - Vitacura Campus. This innovative project links the academic sector to the aeronautical industry with its mission to prepare top level professionals for the Latin American market.
In 2009 the second Campus in Santiago (San Joaquín) was opened. This new campus will strengthen the university's presence in the Metropolitan Region.
After 80 years the University is reputed for its prestige and leadership in engineering, science and technology