The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology and is located in Lausanne, Switzerland. The EPFL is ranked the world's 18th university in the field of "Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences" in the 2008 academic ranking of world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The EPFL is in the heart of Europe and is one of Europe's leading institutions of science and technology. EPFL is often cited as Europe's MIT due to its scientific and technological research advances.
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
The sister institution in the German-speaking part of Switzerland is the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zürich or ETHZ). Associated with several specialised research institutes, the two sister institutes form the ETH Domain, which is directly dependent on the Federal
Founded in 1853 as a private school under the name École Spéciale de Lausanne, it became the technical department of the public Académie de Lausanne in 1869. When the latter 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. The EPFL, like the ETHZ, is thus directly controlled by the Swiss federal government. In contrast, all other universities in Switzerland are controlled by their respective cantonal governments.
The EPFL operates a nuclear reactor, CROCUS, a Tokamak fusion reactor, and P3 bio-hazard facilities. Following the nomination of Patrick Aebischer as president in 2000, EPFL has started to develop into the field of life sciences. It will absorb the ISREC (Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research) by 2008.