Key dates in Centrale Lyon's history

Foundation and first graduates

The ‘École Centrale lyonnaise pour l’Industrie et le Commerce’ was founded on 3 November 1857 by François Barthélemy Arlès-Dufour, a Lyon businessman and humanist, and Désiré Girardon, a teacher at the Martinière school who wanted to ‘educate the best Martinière students in chemistry, industrial mechanics, civil engineering and industrial design’.

The school was established in Lyon at the corner of Rue Enghien (later Rue Vauban) and Cours de Bourbon (later Quai Castellane, now Quai Général-Sarrail).

Fourteen students became the first graduates of the school in 1860.


  • 1866: Creation of the alumni association (today ‘Centrale Lyon Alumni Association’).
  • 1869: The institute transferred to 20 Quai de la Guillotière (later Quai Augagneur).
  • 1887: Lyon Chamber of Commerce became an official patron.

To the heart of Lyon

  • 1901: Moved to Rue Chevreul. Supported by the City of Lyon.
  • 1930: First female engineering student enrolled.
  • 1947: The institute became state-owned.
  • 1963: Competitive exam shared with École Centrale de Paris.
  • 1968: Centrale-Supélec competitive exam.

Looking onto the world from Écully

  • 1967: The institute moved to Écully. The new campus was designed by the architect Jacques Perrin-Fayolle.
  • 1968: First exchange programme with the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany).
  • 1970: The institute changed its name to ‘École Centrale de Lyon’.
  • 1980: First agreements with Japan and the United States.
  • 1990: Creation of the Écoles Centrale Intergroup. First agreement with China.
  • 1992: The institute issued its new charter and became a scientific, cultural and professional public establishment (EPCSCP). First agreement with countries from central and eastern Europe.
  • 1996: Creation of the European university network for double degrees (TIME network).
  • 2000: First agreements with South American countries (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, etc.).
  • 2005: Creation of an École Centrale in Beijing by the Écoles Centrale Intergroup.

2007: The Intergroup became the Écoles Centrale Group with Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Paris. 150th anniversary of the institute’s founding and the 40th of its move to the Écully campus.

Strategic alliance at the Lyon Ouest campus

  • 2010: Test alliance between Centrale Lyon and emlyon business school on the Lyon Ouest Écully Campus.
  • 2011: Founding member of the France AEROTECH network.
  • 2012: First class of the Programme in I.D.E.A., a joint enterprise by Centrale Lyon and emlyon. First Industrial Chair with the company Éco-Emballages (now Citéo).
  • 2013: Celebration of 20 years of Centrale Innovation, a research promotion affiliate of the Écoles Centrale of Lyon, Marseille and Nantes.
  • 2015: First international double doctorate with TU Darmstadt.
  • 2017: 160th anniversary of the institute and its 50th year on the Écully campus.
50 ans 50 promos
Event: 50 years, 50 classes
  • 2019: The principals of Centrale Lyon, INSA Lyon, ENTPE and ENSMSE expressed their support for the creation of a merged University. Centrale Lyon chosen by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region in the call for ‘Research and Innovation Facility’ project for the Région Campus at Charbonnières-les-Bains, in partnership with ENISE and GIE Manutech USD.
  • 2020: Oral tests of the Centrale-Supelec competitive exam cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • 2021: ENISE, the national engineering school of Saint-Étienne, became the first internal school of Centrale Lyon.