History of UTFSM

Legacy of a visionary

UTFSM is a private university, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in Chile.  Its foundation was the legacy of visionary Chilean businessman Federico Santa María, who died in Paris in 1920.  In his will, he donated a major part of his fortune to the city of Valparaíso with the specific purpose of developing a School of Arts and Crafts and a School of Engineers.

Santa María stipulated that all students would receive fellowships and live in the dormitories especially built for them within the campus.  Thus, students were freed from all economical preoccupations and could devote completely to their studies.  Teaching and research activities started in earnest in 1931.  Special attention was devoted to sports, athletics and physical education of all students.  In the first decades, efforts were concentrated on some branches of Engineering, including Mechanical, Chemical, Civil and Electrical Engineering.

Modern times

USM-stampVery rapidly the newly created institution grew as one of the strongest Engineering schools in the country and Latin America as well. Although a private university, it was also supported by the Chilean state. But times were changing very rapidly. The seventies was a  period of changes for the whole of Chilean society and in particular for the Chilean universities. Things had simply to change and adapt to historical events.  Around 1970, the UTFSM ended its boarding school system and opened the University to a much larger number of students while remaining focused in Engineering and Sciences. The major character of the institution was preserved as much as possible.

Through the years, UTFSM has grown to a medium-size, fully accredited university with around 14,000 students in 6 campuses in 5 major cities in central Chile: Valparaíso (main campus), Viña del Mar, Santiago (2 campus), Concepción and Rancagua. Around 100 foreign students come every year to study at UTFSM; they come from different countries including Germany, France, Sweeden, USA, and others.

The main academic departments are currently: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science and Informatics, Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Industrial  Engineering, Architecture, Materials Science, Product Design Engineering, Aeronautical Sciences, Humanities, Physical Education, Sports and Recreation.

Almost all academic departments have M.Sc. programs besides the Engineering degrees. In addition, there are 6 Ph.D. programs in: Physics, Electronics, Computer Science and Informatics, Chemistry, and Biotechnology.