• christopheberger2

Giving a new twist to a venerable institution

You may have seen in our "Nursery" section that we've acquired a very old and traditional higher education school - the "Institute Technique Supérieur". The history of this institute is amazing and I'd like to share it in this blog in several issues. 

A century of innovation and dedication to sacred causes

Founded in 1916 in Freiburg (Switzerland), ITS has always placed a high priority on the mission of the disclosure of knowledge without borders or limits. Many important personalities of the 20th century are among the elders of this institute, which distinguished itself in particular by an academic resistance to fascism through the underground University of Rome. Be it the Alfa Romeo cars, Olivetti's computers or the first ENIAC supercomputer to decipher Nazi Germany's coded messages - ITS has made a small contribution to these achievements everywhere.

In the 21st century, the ITS continues its mission and offers an academic certification program, but also a continuing education program focusing on current topics for companies and technicians.

1916: Birth of a resolutely different Institute

Although Switzerland is not one of the belligerent nations, the country bears the full brunt of the aftermath of the Great War, resulting not only in a shortage of almost all vital goods, but also in the presence of many refugees. surrounding countries. Many of them had lost everything and were in a precarious situation - despite the fact that many of them were formerly avant-garde industrialists or students who were promised a bright future.

In the middle of the war, more precisely in 1916, Guido Bonzanigo, a young engineer in electrical engineering from the ETH, took the initiative to found the Higher Technical Institute ITS whose aim was to offer a means of academic training to soldiers, refugees and others affected by the turmoil of nations. Since traditional academic teaching was almost impossible in wartime, he turned to an idea that was revolutionary at the time: to recognize previous academic achievements and experience, to supplement this knowledge with a structured approach. certify qualifications through certification through a hybrid model combining traditional courses and correspondence courses.

1920s and 1930s: growth and famous graduates

During the period between the two wars, the ITS continued its work with, among others, the collaboration of several professors of the University of Friborg. Many personalities of the time - including Gabriellino D'Annunzio, son of the famous Italian poet, Adriano Olivetti, director of the future computer giant, or Carlo Pesenti, who will become one of the largest European cement manufacturers - presented their diploma work at the Higher Technical Institute and obtained their ITS certificate.

The reputation of the institute was such that it was fashionable, especially among Italian manufacturers, to send their sons to Switzerland to study with ITS. The Olivetti yarns, but also the Romeo sons (from the Alfa Romeo car factory) as well as many other people from lesser known companies have obtained a certificate from the ITS.

2nd World War: the cause of the Righteous

When fascism came to power in Italy, Jewish students were denied access to public schools, and Hebrew scholars no longer had the right to teach. Once again, Guido Bonzanigo followed his principles of disclosure of knowledge and technology without borders or limits. Thus, many Italian Jews sought academic paths outside Italy and arrived in Switzerland where the ITS organized special courses at the university level. They were more theoretical than those usually provided by ITS, very practical and oriented to the application of technologies, given by correspondence or by tutor. ITS was also the academic backbone of the Underground University in Rome, led by Guido Castelnuovo of the Italian Hebrew community. After the war, in Italy liberated from fascism, these diplomas were recognized in the same way as those issued by the official universities during the war.

After war

After the war, the Higher Technical Institute continued its path on the model of Anglo-Saxon and French teaching systems (eg Harvard, Ecole Centrale de Paris, Leonardo da Vinci University) and obtained the recognition of the Swiss authorities. Many university professors wrote correspondence courses for ITS. These books, of high quality, and not found otherwise in the archives of the ITS, were published among others by the publisher Ulrich Hoepli of Milan, which had been founded by a Swiss national, and which is still today a reference inescapable for publishing academic texts in Italy.

The Superior Technical Institute has always given great importance to the quality of its speakers. Thus, many renowned scientists collaborated with the Higher Technical Institute - for example Enzo Aparo, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Università la Sapienza in Rome, who had contributed, during the war, to the invention of the first electronic calculators such as the the famous ENIAC, which broke the German army's codes of transmission during the Second World War and invented what is now called "Operations Research". Another example is Sergio Lo Monaco, engineer and aviator, among others emeritus member of the Board of Directors of Chrysler in the United States, who was one of the major referents of the Higher Technical Institute.

Jump into modernity

At the dawn of the third millennium, the Higher Technical Institute continues its activity, while adapting it to a world completely different from that at the time of its creation. In addition to traditional academic courses, the Higher Technical Institute is active in the certification of knowledge through theses and other means of equivalence. In addition, a brand new adult education channel deals with high-profile topics for the economy and its stakeholders and imparts relevant knowledge in a highly effective and efficient manner.


Place de la Gare 15, CH - 1700 Fribourg