Alma Mater Leobiensis - A Historical Overview

The rapid development of machine and transport systems since the first decades of the 19th century required the suppliers of raw and building materials, especially the alpine mining and metallurgical industries, to increase their performance. Despite 2000 years of excellent experience, this could only be achieved with scientifically trained engineers. Consequently, on November 16, 1814, the curators of the Joanneum in Graz, which was founded as a technical high school in 1811, applied for a chair for metallurgy to be set up. The suggestion came from Archduke Johann, the founder and protector of the Joanneum. However, the realization initially failed due to the lack of a suitable teacher personality; this brought a long delay, but the plan could no longer come to rest out of inner necessity.

In 1828, the curators again submitted a specific application for the systemization of a chair for metallurgy. Vordernberg, at that time the most important place in the alpine iron industry, was chosen as its location. With an admirable knowledge of human nature, Archduke Johann selected Peter Tunner, who was only 24 at the time, as the future professor in 1833.

On November 4, 1840, the "Steiermärkisch-Ständische Montanlehranstalt" came into being in a solemn act in Vordernberg. The inaugural lecture of Peter Tunnel already shows his clear intention to keep teaching at a university level and to make his school a focus of instruction and the exchange of experiences for the experts of the entire alpine mining industry. After highly successful years in Vordernberg, the revolutionary year 1848 brought the impetus for a fundamental change. The kk Bergakademie in Schemnitz in Upper Hungary was practically canceled for the visit by Austrian students. Peter Tunner therefore operated the takeover of his school by the state.

 

The Styrian estates consented to this transfer of ownership with the express reservation that the future k. k. Montanlehranstalt always remain in Styria and have to pay special attention to Styrian iron in their teaching. In 1848 the Vordernberger Lehranstalt was taken over by the state and in 1849 it moved to the nearby district town of Leoben.

The organization of the institute was geared towards special training for students who had already received thorough training in mathematics and natural science subjects at the polytechnic institutes in Vienna, Prague or at the Joanneum in Graz. This meant an unusually long period of study. The constant efforts of Peter Tunneler succeeded in gradually introducing two preparatory years in Leoben, so that the students were accepted on the basis of the secondary school diploma and could leave the institute after a total of four years of study as graduated mountain academics. This equality of the institute with Schemnitz was also visibly confirmed externally by the elevation to the Bergakademie on September 2, 1861. This went hand in hand with an increase in the workforce.

The war year 1866 brought a serious setback with the cancellation of the preliminary courses. The consequence was a severe decline in the number of listeners, and only the combined efforts of industry and the faculty of professors succeeded in re-establishing the preliminary courses in 1870. On December 15, 1874, the k. k. Bergakademie issued a new statute that guaranteed healthy, calm development. The professors were given the same rank as the professors of the technical universities.

The imperial resolution of July 31, 1904, which changed the name of the Bergakademie to "Montanistische Hochschule" and by granting the right to award doctorates, was a crowning achievement of the Bergakademie's upward development and recognition of its great importance for the Austrian economy In the autumn of 1910 the Montanistische Hochschule was able to move into the representative and generously designed new building on Josefee for the state of the time.

 

After short years in the new home, the world war emptied the lecture halls. When regular operation was able to start again at the beginning of 1919, an oversized listener had to be temporarily overcome due to the backlog of the war years. In line with the progress made in mining, new study regulations were created, which resulted in the complete separation of the fields of study in mining and metallurgy.

Despite all the hardships of the post-war period, the university was able to continue its upward development, but the recurring plans to divide or completely relocate it brought it considerable damage. In 1934, these plans were partially realized through the organizational merger of the Montanist University with the Technical University of Graz and the relocation of the two preparatory years of study to Graz. Like the similar measure in 1866, this time too it immediately brought about a serious setback in the number of listeners, so that the Austrian coal and steel industry had serious concerns about the next generation. The re-establishment of the independent and complete Montanist University by the federal law of April 3, 1937 is to be thanked for the combined efforts of industry, the professors and all old Leoben residents as well as the insightful understanding of the federal government.

An era of calm further development was interrupted again by the annexation of Austria to the German Reich in 1938, which necessarily brought about an external alignment with the German study regulations. In spite of this, the name "Montanistische Hochschule" was retained, which ensured its uniqueness in the German Reich. The Second World War brought serious interventions in the course of study again, but the university was largely spared from material war damage. The collapse of 1945 and the Occupation of the country by foreign troops passed without permanent harm.

 

The rapid stabilization after the war was also reflected in the number of listeners. Between 1945 and 1955, these rose from 300 to 600. From around 1955, new fields of study were gradually introduced, so that the standardized study of mining and metallurgy has now become a range of courses that still contains the old core subjects, but encompasses the entire range of subject areas from raw materials to materials. In 1969 the Montanistische Hochschule consisted of 25 institutes for six fields of study: mining, mining, petroleum, metallurgy, rock metallurgy and mining machinery. In 1970/71 the offer was expanded to include the two fields of study plastics technology and materials science. Around 1970 another seven new institutes were added in order to be able to cover the range of courses, which has increased significantly as a result of the differentiation and is necessary. The opening of the spacious annex on Ignaz-Buchmüller-Platz, which has been under construction since 1962, also fell during this period. In October 1990, the newly adapted Peter Tunner building was ready for use. According to the plans of the architect Eilfried Huth, the existing institute building was adapted and converted into a modern building for the geoscientific institutes, including the listed old buildings.

In October 1990 the Montan University celebrated its 150th anniversary. The response and recognition that she received from experts, the state, industry and business was a gratifying confirmation of the path taken and the efforts of everyone. At the same time, two new fields of study, namely Applied Geosciences and Industrial Environmental Protection and Process Engineering, Waste Management and Recycling, were established. The industrial logistics course was established in 2003 and the industrial energy technology master’s course in 2009. In 2014, the range of courses was expanded to include recycling technology. The latest industrial data science course started in autumn 2020.

16 university courses have been set up in the area of ​​postgraduate training.

Since October 1st, 1975, the Montanistic University has been named Montanuniversität Leoben due to the University Organization Act 1975.

 

After the 1000-student limit was exceeded for the first time in 1981, there are around 3100 students in the 11/12 academic year, the highest number since the Montan University was founded.

Since the 2011/12 academic year, the Montanuniversität has only been offering bachelor's and master's degrees. After the 7th semester, the bachelor's courses conclude with the academic degree "Bachelor of Science", the subsequent master's degree after the third or fourth semester (depending on the chosen master's degree) with the academic degree "Dipl.-Ing.".

Due to the University Act 2002, there were major structural changes, with the decision-making structures being based on the Rectorate, the Senate and the University Council.

Due to the increased number of students, the university has also recently expanded spatially. In 2006 the old regional court was adapted to a raw and material center. The new IZW (Impulse Center for Materials) was opened in 2007. Scientific organizational units, the MCL (Materials Center Leoben) and PCCL (Polymer Competence Center Leoben) and administrative organizational units of the Montan University are located in these buildings, which are connected by a glass bridge. In autumn 2009, the completely renovated lecture hall wing with the Archduke Johann Auditorium was reopened. In spring 2010, the plastics technology division moved to the new center for plastics technology in Leoben. The former research and data center of voestalpine was adapted for the plastics technology institutes. In 2011 the Impulse Center Raw Materials (IZR) was opened, in which the research activities are carried out by six chairs in the Department of Mineral Resources and Petroleum Engineering.

In autumn 2016, the Petroleum Engineering Department moved into the newly renovated former Rabcewicz building, and two years later they moved into the premises of the former District Chamber for Agriculture and Forestry in Parkstrasse. Construction of the new study center behind the technology transfer center started in September 2020.

Leoben's strengths lie in the still largely family atmosphere, in the personal contacts between teachers and students, in an understanding collaboration with industry on independent scientific projects. The Montanuniversität Leoben is aware of its task to continue to contribute to the further development of industry and society through research and teaching.



Source: www.unileoben.ac.at