École Centrale de Lille was founded as École des arts industriels et des mines de Lille in 1854, the same year when Louis Pasteur became the dean of Faculté des sciences de Lille and pioneered applied research with industry cooperations, with support of scientists such as Charles Frédéric Kuhlmann. Between 1854 and 1871, students attending the two-year curriculum grew to 90 per annum. Baccalaureate was a prerequisite to admission to the engineering school.
In 1872 lectures and research activities in the engineering school were reorganised into a three-year curriculum and developed within its Institut industriel du Nord, with a focus on civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry and manufacturing engineering. Electrical engineering full courses were added in 1892, automobile design has been taught from 1899 onwards. More than 200 students graduated in year 1914. Aerodynamics studies started in 1930. A stress on automatic control and computers was initiated in 1957. Later came courses and research in computer science, supply chain management, materials science, micro-electronics and telecommmunications.
Since early 20th century, student admission has been based on a competitive exam after attending a classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles or similar undergraduate studies.
École Centrale de Lille was originally located in Lille central district from 1854 to 1875. Larger buildings with dedicated laboratories were inaugurated in 1875 nearby the Faculté des sciences de Lille. It then moved in 1968 in the modern campus of Lille University of Science and Technology, in the south-east suburb of Lille.
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