Making a legacy come true
The beginnings of Universidad Técnica FedericotSanta María go back to the altruist dream of Federico Santa María, who set the foundation of the Institution in his will and testament in Paris, in 1920. He states his wish to contribute with the progress and increase the cultural horizon of our country to his executors. With these altruist ideas, he pursues to make easier the entrance to the academic life to the low-income compatriots whose merit, aptitudes and high school grades are excellent.
One year after his death on April 27th, 1926, the Foundation under his name is created and an Academic Institution to procure an integral formation of its students was implemented. These should assure academic excellence in the professional, scientific and human education based not only on universal values of man but also on social responsibility. Thus, his dream becomes an earnest testimony of the benefactor`s philanthropy.
The will executor, Agustín Edwards McClure understood so, complying with accuracy such mandate. According to the entrusted task, he travelled to Germany to get a group of faculty members consistent with the importance of the Institution conceived. There, he hired Professor Karl Laudien, the first Rector of the Institution, and also a group of faculty of excellence brought from the Old Continent. Thus, in 1928, the School of Arts and Crafts, and the School of Engineers José Miguel Carrera began to be built. When the Board of Director of the Institution is constituted in 1929, under Edwards` sharp look, the idea of a university citadel is projected including a group of schools with workshops, laboratories, dormitories, library, sports facilities, yards and gardens.
The construction of such work is achieved by Josué Smith Solar y José Smith Miller –father and son– who according to Gothic Revival Tudor architectural style raise such a magnificent work that has been a proud of Valparaíso until today. The location, to build it, should be specifically between two neighborhoods for workers in Cerro Barón and Viña del Mar, on the hillside of Cerro Los Placeres.
Walking along its narrow streets, alleys, yards, and classrooms make you feel admiration in front of such refined and pure architecture similar to most prestigious universities of Europe and the United States. The facilities were inaugurated on December 20th, 1931 together with the grave for the remains of his founder in a marble coffin that watches over his legacy in front of the university.
Half way through 1932, the country is submerged in a financial crisis due to the ups and downs of the world economy: the production has fallen into pieces, strong social and political conflicts happen constantly. In spite of such unfavorable scenario, the dream of this man is still alive, more than ever. The doors to the School of Arts and Crafts and José Miguel Carrera School of Engineers open, starting the academic activities based on technique and trades, that along the years have become a fundamental pillar for the technological and industrial development of our country.
In the mid 30`s, Santa María Foundation through the Supreme Decree Law No 3048 becomes a Higher Education Institution and it is called Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. From then on, it has consolidated a solid growth and prestigious tradition, leading the teaching of science and technology.
Already in his early years it consolidates its excellence and quality not only in teaching and educational growth of the students, but also in cultural extension and constant contribution to the society that saw its birth. Thus, participating in exhibitions with pavilions, machinery, teachers and students who give testimony of his commitment with the technical and scientific activities at that time, adhering to the principles and values of the benefactor: contributing to the community service. Having the same purpose, the Evening School, the Trainee School, the Higher Technical School and finally the Boatswain Professional School, and the School of Engineers are created.
In 1934, Scientia magazine is published, following the precepts to collaborate with the development of the country, the growth of the nation and as a contribution to the intellectual progress. It becomes the voice of the university academic work. The radio station Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, established in 1937, becomes the first radio broadcasting in Chile and Latin America, focused to broadcast information and cultural programs.
On the other hand, being loyal to the values taught to the first generation of graduate students from the university, the Alumni Association is created in 1939 known today as Aexa USM. This is a legal corporation that has kept a steady link between the graduate students and the university along the years to strengthen the feeling of belonging and identity with the Institution. Their supportive and generous spirit to promote the raising of funds to grant well-being to a great number of undergraduate students through scholarships and welfare is the most outstanding characteristic of its members.
On April, 19th, 1941, the Aula Magna is inaugurated. This is the center of the artistic life and cultural activities of the University and for the city par excellence. Until today, it shelters one of the most important artistic seasons in the country.
From the 50`s on, this University consolidates academically. Also, the construction work stated in the original project ends. Besides, in 1960, the School of Graduates is established, meeting the needs of continuing education and professional development of its graduates. In 1963, the first Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering earns his degree, from this University, in Latin America.
With the new winds brought by the 60`s, thanks to the social movements, women begin to play a more decisive role in different fields gaining a slow access in politics, at work and in higher education. In 1964, the first woman gets a college degree being this the beginning of female growing participation along the years, not only qualitatively but also quantitatively.
As years pass by, the University offers more academic courses and study programs. In the 70`s, there is a need to diversify the study programs to meet the growing demand of professionals in the fields of technology, science and innovation, experimenting a fast expansion to adapt to the new times.
Expansion and consolidation of a leadership
From the 60`s on, a process of national and international expansion begins, following the precepts of its founder, to serve the community, to look at the future and to meet the needs of development of the country.
On October 9th, 1966, in the presence of the President of Chile at that time, His Excellency Eduardo Frei Montalva, the groundbreaking ceremony to build the Technical School in El Olivar now called José Miguel Carrera Viña del Mar Technical Branch took place, because of the growth underwent by the Arts and Crafts School that was located, at that time, at the Main Campus. The raising Branch opens the doors to the teaching activities in 1969, with the purpose of educating technicians of excellence in science and technology in the fields of Construction, Food, Electro-technology, Chemistry, Mechanics and Design. All these study programs were quite necessary, since a noticeable industrialized process is experienced at that time.
The same year, in the Biobío Region, the School of University Technicians started to be built, today it is known as Rey Balduino de Bélgica Concepción Technical Branch, as acknowledgement to the financial and technical assistance from the Belgium State. For many years and under the encouragement of CORFO (Production Promotion Corporation), the authorities and businessmen from the zone were wondering about the idea of providing the region with a scientific and technology-oriented educational school, due to the scarcity of skilled professionals for the industrial and entrepreneurial development. Thus, the new center begins the educational activities in 1972, offering Electronics, Electricity, Maintenance Mechanics and Analytic Chemistry programs. The official opening takes place in 1972, in the presence of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr. Salvador Allende Gossens, the Ambassador of Belgium in Chile, Franz Taelemans and the administrators of the University. Three years after, the first students graduate from the School of University Technicians giving a major boost to the region.
In the 70`s, the country lives a social upheaval and the social movements become more radical. The University establishes rules to do research and innovate that are essential for the educational work and practical and theoretical knowledge, empowering the contribution to human learning. Thus, the emphasis was put on increasing high-level knowledge, favoring design, planning and research of development projects.In 1974, the Vice Chancellor`s office for Research and Technical Assistance was divided into the Scientific and Technological Research Department and the Services and Technical Assistance Department. The first one, to encourage research and the second one to coordinate internships and projects.
In the 80`s, the 50th anniversary celebration is carried out under an essentially academic profile, with symposiums, conferences, awards and outstanding guests, promoting the spreading of the university work to the community. The Institution re-organizes and re-structures in an academic and administrative way. Three great fields of study gather all the learning disciplines: Faculty of Science, Engineering and Administration. This way, the University faces with clear guidelines the internationalization, generating a concrete approach with first-level universities from Europe and the United States, with the objective to foster the scientific, technological and student exchange.
In the 90`s, a new expansion period begins that continues until today. In this context, two new campuses are established in 1955 –one in El Golf neighborhood in Las Condes district, offering Business Administration and Computer Science majors– and the other one in Rancagua City. In 2000, the first one moved to Vitacura district where it is still located today. The second one was re-opened in 2009, with new and better facilities. The opening, in 1996, of Campus Guayaquil in Ecuador, gives an answer to the inevitable globalization of knowledge, becoming the first Chilean Higher Education institution to go through an international process according to the strategic plan. In 1996, the Office of International Affairs is established, having as an aim to safeguard the academic and research relations of the Institution with the world community.Following the same path to satisfy the demands of the new times, from 2000 –and in alliance with Línea Aerea Nacional (LAN-Chile)–, the Aeronautical Sciences Academy starts working to strengthen links between academic activities and the entrepreneurial world to teach first level professionals in the field of aeronautics.
In 2001, the International Institute for Entrepreneurial Innovation was established to encourage the productive development of the country by means of entrepreneurial innovations and the creation of new enterprises oriented to the global market. It becomes an entity that links the different actors performing in finances and new technology fields, through its units and specific skills centers.
Nowadays, the society faces a challenging world scenario, where innovation has to give solutions with value to the people and where professionals are not only creators of technologies but also active change-agents, sensitive to the social and environmental impact. The mission of the scientific, professional and human education of excellence imposes the challenge to create and disseminate new knowledge, preparing suitable people to be at the cutting edge of the country development.For this reason, in the latest decade, the University has promoted a strong quantitatively and qualitatively growth, to consolidate leadership in engineering, science and technology.
In 2009, to strengthen the University’s presence in the Metropolitan Region, a new campus is opened in Santiago, in San Joaquin district, offering the most traditional engineering majors: Civil Works, Electricity, Mechanics, Mining and Chemistry and also Computer Science. This new campus is a vital part of the expansion and consolidation strategy of the University in such an important place as it is the capital of the country, becoming an Academic Institution with national vocation, performing an important leading role to educate excellent professionals for the development of the society and the country.
The same year, following the growing plans of infrastructure and equipment to improve the teaching and learning process, the first stage of Placeres Building is opened with new classrooms and computer rooms, after that, the second stage is opened in 2011.
The important role of the technical school branches, which are in permanent development, has been reflected in the need to have new facilities for teachers, workers and students. In 2001, the building for Mechatronics is opened in Concepción, and in 2009, the building for Computing in Viña del Mar, and “Santa María Carrera” in 2012. The latter one is the largest building along the history of this Technical Branch.
The University understands that an education of excellence requires the best rooms for the members of the community so they can develop their work with the greatest comfort and security.
The University task is not only to educate professional with wide theoretical and technical knowledge, but also, to teach principles to contribute to enrich the human spirit and the uplifting of the society. Science, arts and sports meet in the same place merging in the soul of the “sansanos”. An integral convergence of principles and values sustained on pluralism and independence help learning and discovery in order to construct a more fair and solidary society.
Today, in the 21th century, past and present mix together in this University. The energy of the new generations keeps the wish of a man alive, Federico Santa María Carrera, who let his altruist and enterprising spirit fly limitless more than a century ago. His legacy is the result of his vision, will and imagination, values that few men, who build the history, have.