Schools of Engineering, Roads and Bridges
The Ministry of Public Works was established in order to carry out public work activities in 1839 after the Tanzimat. When this ministry started engaging in the public works of the state, the need for civil engineers arose. Engineering services were initially provided by people such as the military officers who were graduates of the Imperial Civil Engineering Schools, foreign engineers from various countries in Europe, minorities who had engineering education in Europe and people who had some knowledge about engineering and presented themselves as engineers. A new school named School of Civil Engineering and Reformation of the Industry, which would train 30 engineers annually, was opened in order to meet the increasing need for engineers in 1867.1 The school was given the building that was specifically built for Darülfünun (Istanbul University) in Divanyolu. It is not known how many years the school provided this education and whether it had any graduates or not.
A commission was set up in the early part of the year of 1874 under the chairmanship of the Minister of Education Ahmed Cevdet Pasha (b. 1822-d. 1895), pursuant to enactment dated 2 Rabi aş-Awwal 1291 (April 20, 1874), with regards to the establishment of a 4-year school in order to train civil engineers, 7 years after the first attempt to face the increasing need for engineers.2 At the end of the negotiations in the commission of 1868, there was an agreement on the decision to establish a 2-year education institution called the School of Civil Engineering within the Mekteb-i Sultanî (Imperial School ) in Galatasaray. The idea was that a 2-year education would be enough if the students were from Mekteb-i Sultanî and educational expenses would be cheaper compared to the 4-year education foreseen at the beginning. The expenses, predicted to be 95.000 kuruş, were projected to be met from the funds of the Mekteb-i Sultanî, so the School of Civil Engineering would be set up without causing additional expenses to the imperial budget . The commission prepared the regulation of the school as well. According to this regulation of 6 articles, the quota of the school was 12-15 students; the entrance exam was prepared by the engineers of the Ministry of Public Works and the candidates had to be as knowledgeable as the graduates of the Imperial School. The school would be inspect by the Ministry of Public Works once every 3 months and graduates would work at the Ministry of Public Works, first as an assistant engineer then as an engineer.(Passive voice in the blue sentences are one-to –one translation but in English these sentences should be regular sentences. In my opinion it would be better to change)
However, the school was renamed as the School of Roads and Bridges at the end of the first year and the period of study was extended to 4 years. The principal of the school Sava Pasha who gave a speech at the award ceremony of the Mekteb-i Sultanî in 1875 announced that the school had transformed into a separate educational institution called “The School of Roads and Bridges” after considering the needs and expansion of the society. He said that the School of Engineering had completed its first year successfully and students proved themselves in an exam and afterwards he talked about the developments in the Imperial School and the new classes introduced that year.3
The internal regulation of the School of Roads and Bridges was added to the Internal Regulation of the Law School that was within the Imperial School on the 25th of January 1876.4 It was emphasized in the document that the regulation of the school was the same as the Law School and if engineers had their “PhD” degrees (appropriated title of doctor) they would be employed by the Ministry of Public Works and would have the opportunity to rise in ranks. In addition, their aim was to employ those people who were unable to acquire the title of “PhD” as “conductors” instead, after they took an appropriate exam. This title of “conductors” was equal to the title of “licensee” given to the people who failed at the doctorate exam and at writing a thesis in the Law School. The period of study was 4 years for both doctors and licensees at the Law School and the distinction was made from the result of the exit tests.
Sava Pasha drew attention to the railroads built in Ottoman land and its prospection, referring to the companies that were set up daily in these areas and stated in order to emphasize the importance of the school that the need for engineers was primarily met through hiring foreigners. Therefore, he expressed that engineering was a profession with a guarantee for employment.5
The number of teachers in the school was 5 and the number of students who took the test was 26 at the end of the first year of the engineering school (1874-1875). Two of them were given awards and the other four were given praise. The number of teachers went up to 10 in the second academic year (1875-1876) and to 15 in the third academic year (1876-1877); furthermore, the number of students that year was 43. Despite the emphasis that engineering diplomas were as significant and functional as law diplomas, it can be understood from the increase of the number of Law students from 21 to 61 in the same period that there was a higher demand for the Law School.6
Because there were not enough instructors to give classes in Turkish in these schools, some classes were given in French and some in Turkish until these instructors were trained and the necessary Turkish textbooks were ready.7 Classes that were in French would be repeated in Turkish by teacher assistants. Accordingly, Physics, Topography, Applied and General Mechanics, Hydraulics, Material Preparation and Industrial Chemistry classes were in French and others were in Turkish in the School of Roads and Bridges.
As a result of the financial difficulties that the state experienced and the Ottoman-Russian War in 1877-1878 (93 War), the school was closed temporarily. After a short while, it was decided that the education should continue and it was announced in the newspapers. In an announcement given by the Ministry of Education on 14 November 1878, it was said that the School of Roads and Bridges was expanded and rearranged and would be reopened as of 13 November 1878; moreover, it was stated that the sophomore, senior and junior students would continue education as of 18 November 1878 and the freshmen would continue as of 25 November 1878 after registrations. Hence, the older students and people who wanted to re-register were asked to consult the school secretary.8 Accordingly, the School of Roads and Bridges started education by taking new students into their freshman classes in mid-November 1878. It is understood that education did not go smoothly due to financial problems although the School of Roads and Bridges started education in the fall of 1878. The newspaper called Moniteur de Commerce published in Istanbul said on 4 November 1879 that the Schools of Law and Roads and Bridges within the Imperial School were abolished upon the command of Minister of Education Munir Efendi (Pasha). In the official announcement, given by the Ministry of Education on November 11, 1879 in response to this news, it was stated that although there were some problems due to budget limitations, these problems had been solved. However, it was also stated that sophomore and junior classes of the School of Roads and Bridges were removed because there were no students at this level and only the first year students were left, but that it would return to its old status.9 Before there was a break for classes, there were 43 students in the School of Roads and Bridges in 1876.10 What happened to those students after the break and the reason why there were no students in the sophomore and junior classes of the School of Roads and Bridges are still unknown. The prolonged break perhaps decreased the popularity of the school.
The school had its first graduates in 1880 rather than 1878 due to disruptions in their education. Karakoç and Hindabyan, who graduated from the School of Roads and Birdges, were appointed as engineers in Sivas in east-central Anatolia . There is no further information about the end of the School of Roads and Bridges. Considering the result, we can argue that they did not get the desired result from the newly established education of engineering.
School of Civil Engineering11
There was an attempt to train civil engineers; there were negotiations with the Council of Ministers for opening a school and a decision was submitted with a protocol dated September16, 1883. It was stated in the protocol that inefficient and foreign engineers were employed in cities due to the absence of a school to train engineers and a school had to be opened but that opening an independent school would be very expensive. It was deemed suitable that the school should be established within the Imperial Military School of Engineering and run by the same teaching staff in order to establish and run the school with a smaller budget, so the fields close to the Engineering School were expropriated and a separate building for School of Civil Engineering was constructed.12 The official notice about this decision was published on Ceride-i Havadis newspaper dated October 8, 1883.
While the construction of school was going on, the regulation of the school was prepared based on École des Ponts et Chaussées (School of Bridges and Roads) in France. The school, which was established based on the French system at the beginning, was directed towards the German system with the influence of German teachers brought to the school later. During the negotiations about the regulation with the Council of State, another protocol regarding adding one more article by the Council of Ministers was prepared on June 18, 1884.13 Since benefiting from the engineers from this school was completely dependent on their experience in practice, they wanted to add one article to the protocol in order to choose and send a reasonable number of students to Europe within the limitations of the budget annually and this article was added to the protocol.14 The Regulation of School of Civil Engineering, which was accepted after negotiating with the Council of State, was approved on 20 June 20, 1884.15
According to the regulation, a boarding School of Civil Engineering was founded within the Imperial School of Military Engineering. The school lasted 4 years and the aim was that the education will be completed within 4 years taking 100 students every year. The graduates of the Mekteb-i Sultanî, the Ottoman Secondary School for Orphans and schools assessed to be at the same level with these schools would be accepted without an exam and graduates of military or civil middle schools would be accepted with an exam. Students will obey the disciplinary rules binding for the students of School of Engineering. The school would provide internal and external uniforms for students; also, students would be paid salaries.
There was difficulty in finding students for the School of Civil Engineering. Although they had middlemen roam the streets of Istanbul and shout “Children will study for free at the School of Civil Engineering; they will be provided food, accommodation and clothes for free” in order to attract students, they could not find students and 25 students who were studying at the Faculty of Political Science on state’s account were transferred there.16 Therefore, classes started with a little delay and 25 students instead of 100 in a class that was prepared by emptying one of the old sword rooms in the Military Engineering School on November 13, 1883. Upon the completion of the building for the school, they moved to the new building on October 29, 1884 Wednesday and had an opening ceremony. While this building was comprised of 5 wards, 4 classes and 1 recreation room, it was expanded by adding 3 wards, 3 classes and one mosque 5 years later.17
In a letter written by Tophane Marshall to Sublime Porte on August 24, 1884 it was stated that there were negotiations in Imperial School of Military Engineering Teachers Council with participation from representatives of Ministry of Public Works about the precautions to take to ensure the development of School of Civil Engineering and the following decisions were made. The decision about this issue was made on September 15, 1889.18
1. Rearranging the instruction, which was originally arranged over 5 classes, to 7 classes and arranging the class schedule accordingly.
2. Increasing the number of students to be accepted from 100 to 105; paying a salary of 30 kuruş to students in their third year, 45 kurus in their fourth year, 60 kuruş in their fifth year, 75 kuruş in their sixth year and 90 kuruş in their seventh year.
3. Accepting students who are older than 15 and younger than 20 to the freshman classes.
4. Removing the students who fail twice within the first 3 years, considered as high school level, to the Ministry of Public Works by giving them “conductorship certificate”.
5. Assigning the needed 10 teachers immediately.
The period of study went up to 5 years before having any graduates, so the school had its first graduates in 1888.19 There were not any graduates in 1890 and in 1893 since the period of study went up to 6 and 7 years respectively. There were 13 first graduates and 230 students graduated in 1888-1908 period. It can be seen that the efforts were adequate in improving the School of Civil Engineering. It was decided in 1891 that a photography room should be constructed.20
Students who were boarders at the school for free were subject to strict discipline as well as a special uniform. Various precautions were taken in order to make the school attractive and students were paid salaries that could be considered decent under the present conditions. Graduates were initially given a title Rütbe-i Sabire which was equivalent to squadron leader in 1889, then they were given the title of Rütbe-i Rabia which was equivalent to lieutenant commander and they were paid much higher salaries than people who graduated from other schools and started serving the state. Graduates of the School of Civil Engineering significantly contributed , particularly in construction and management of railways, building of roads and irrigation activities. Engineers from this school also contributed to the Hejaz Railroad project of the Ottoman Empire. 21
As a result of the strong opinions about separating the School of Civil Engineering, which was a civilian school, from the government after the Second Constitutional Monarchy, it was decided on 29 November 1908 that “The School of Civil Engineering shall be separated from Tophane Supervision” and the Ministry of Public Works should be abolished.23 The name of the school was changed to Engineering Academy with this transformation. The establishment regulation of the school was issued on June 10, 1915.24
On March 20, 1910, Mehmet Refik (Femen, 1882-1951) who studied in Belgium and served as the electricity teacher in the School of Civil Engineering was appointed as the first civilian principal of the school that was located in the building of Military Industry School in Tophane. Practice was considered important during Mehmet Refik’s office and physics, chemistry and construction materials laboratories were built as well as a drawing office for mechanical drawing. Devices to measure the material endurance were brought to these laboratories from France and Italy. The number of topography tools was increased and every student was provided with field experience. Mehmet Refik Bey, who made great efforts to enrich the library, paid great attention to the publication of course notes, required teachers to write course notes and students were provided with a compass and a drawing board. Mehmet Refik Bey who established good relations with the students gave his permission and support to the foundation of the Student Club of Engineering School.
Teachers were brought from Germany and Austria-Hungary to be employed at the school. Jachmund, who gave architecture classes, Lund, who gave classes about strength of materials and bridge calculation, Kos, who came from Germany and gave general engineering classes such as construction and bridge and Professor Philipp Forchheimer, who came from Austria and gave classes regarding bridges and irrigational activities can be mentioned amongst the teachers who came during the term of the School of Civil Engineering. The most important person among them was Karl Terzaghi, who was a student of Professor Forchhemier and came to Istanbul thanks to the professor. Karl Terzaghi (b. 1883-d. 1963) established the basis for soil mechanics in a very simple laboratory, which he set up in the Engineering Academy during the 1916-1918 period.25 Tripoli War, Balkan War, World War I and the Armistice Period that happened one after another hindered the development of the school. Due to the wars, only 4 people graduated from the school in 1916, which changed locations seven times in 14 years from 1909 to 1923. There were no graduates from this school until 1921.
Schools were given legal entities through a law that was issued thanks to the attempts of the Minister of Public Works Behiç (Erkin) in 1928 during the Republic Era and its name was changed to Yüksek Mühendis Mektebi (High Engineering School).26 Departments of Road-Railroad, Water and Construction (Architecture) departments were opened after this. Electromechanical Institute that was founded within the body of the Istanbul Ottoman Science Faculty in 1926 in order to train electrical and mechanical engineers was connected to the High Engineering School along with its students, lecturers and materials in 1934. The legal entity of the High Engineering School was abolished in 1936 and was given over to the Ministry of Education with the name Yüksek Mühendis Okulu (High Engineering School) in 1941.27 The school was transformed into Istanbul Technical University comprised of Civil Engineering, Architecture, Mechanical and Electrical faculties with the law nr. 4619 enacted on July 12, 1944.28
The period of study changed according to the conditions and the qualities of the students accepted into the school. While the period of study was five years at the beginning, it went up to six then seven years and went down to six years again in 1909. The period of study went down to 5.5 years in 1930, up to 6 years in 1932 again, down to 5 years in 1938 and up to 6 years one year later in 1939 and in 1944 it was decided that it should be a 5-year study during its transformation into a university.
From the Conductors (Technicians) School of Higher Education to Yıldız Technical University
A school named the Conductors School of Higher Education was founded in 1911 in order to meet the need for “cadastre technician” previously called “conductor” and “technician” today of public works administrations of cities.29 Enrollment at the school started on August 22, 1911 and education started in a building, which is used today as the Health Museum in Sultanahmet, in September of the same year. Programs of École de Conducteur (Conductors School) in Paris were taken as an example for the curriculum aiming to provide basic knowledge about public works and classes were given by the members of Cadastre Committee of the Ministry of Public Works. Due to the Balkan Wars, the school was moved to a mansion in Şehremini because its building was evacuated to be used as a hospital. It was moved to a mansion in Cemberlitaş in August 1914 at the beginning of the World War I and after staying there until the end of the war, it was moved to the old building of the Navy Association in Cağaloglu during the Armistice Period. When occupation forces wanted to evacuate the building and throw out the belongings of the school, they planned to move the belongings to the Dentist School in Kadırga; however, they attempted to continue education in two rooms on the basement floor of the building of Ministry of Public Works in Cağaloglu when they could not find space in Kadirga. Despite all these unfortunate incidents, 66 cadastre technicians were trained until 1922.
The name of the school was changed to the School of Public Works in 1922 and moved to a corner of the Gümüşsuyu Barracks where the Engineering Academy was located. The school was turned into a free boarding school in 1924 and the number of students increased significantly. The period of study went up to 2.5 years in 1926 and 3 years in 1931. The school had 401 graduates in 1923-1933 period. Due to the expansion of the School of Engineering, it was removed from the Gümüşsuyu Barracks in 1935 and moved to the Memduh Pasha Mansion rented in Kuruceşme.
The gradual increase in public works and technical services created a gap between cadastre technicians and certified engineers. During the office of Ali Çetinkaya as the Minister of Public Works, the Technical School was founded by abolishing the School of Public Works with the law nr. 3074 that was issued on December 19, 1936 and put into effect on June 1, 1937 in order to train engineers so as to fill this gap. Buildings from the annexes of Yıldız Palace, which are still used today, were allocated for this newly founded school and after a long unsettling period, the school moved here permanently. The school had a 2-year cadastre technician department and a 4-year engineering department, and both sections included construction and mechanics branches. As of the academic year of 1942-1943, electrical engineering and architecture departments were opened in the engineering section and the name of the cadastre technician section was changed to technician section on October 12, 1943. The school was removed from the Ministry of Public Works along with the School of Engineering and given over to the Ministry of Education. Students who graduated from the 4-year special classes of building and art institutes were accepted into the Engineering section of the school. The Architecture department that accepted the graduates of building institute was closed as it could not find adequate number of students in late 1945 and it was reopened accepting students from various sources in 1951-1952 academic year. Surveying and Cadastre Engineering department was opened as the first department to train engineers in this field in Turkey with the decision of the Ministry of National Education dated June 7, 1949. The technician section that accepted the graduates of Male Arts Institute was closed as of 1951-1952 academic year. The Technical Night School that is equal to education today and lasted 5 years was opened in 1959. A specialization program was opened as of 1959-1960 and certified engineer and architect diplomas started to be given at the end of 1-year study. 1-year completion courses for engineering were opened six times between 1930 and 1950 in order for the graduates of School of Public Works to receive an engineering diploma and 362 people from these courses were given engineering diplomas. Yıldız Technical School trained 1083 technicians, 4782 engineers and architects and 655 certified engineers and architects in total until 1969.
Yıldız Technical School was turned into the Istanbul State Engineering and Architecture Academy pursuant to State Engineering and Architecture Academies Law issued on June 3, 1969 with number 1184. After private higher education schools were closed in 1971, Galatasaray Engineering School, Işık Engineering School, Kadikoy Engineering School and Vatan Engineering School were given over to the Istanbul State Engineering and Architecture Academy. The Istanbul State Engineering and Architecture Academy and the engineering schools that were transferred to this school were unified with the Kocaeli Engineering and Architecture Academy and the Kocaeli Vocational College during rearrangement of higher education institutions with Statutory Decree nr. 41 dated July 20, 1982 and, thus, Yıldız University was founded. The Kocaeli Engineering Faculty and the Kocaeli Vocational School separated on July 3, 1992 and Kocaeli University was founded this way. Yıldız University’s name was changed to Yıldız Technical University.
1 Tasvîr-i Efkâr, 18 Ramazan 1283 (24 January 1867), no. 454, p. 1.
2 Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, “Darülfünûn Tarihçesine Giriş (II)-Üçüncü Teşebbüs: Dârülfünûn-ı Sultanî”, TTK Belleten, vol. 57, no. 218 (1993), p. 216.
3 Mahmud Cevad, Maârif-i Umûmiye Nezâreti Târihçe-i Teşkîlât ve İcrââtı, prepared by Taceddin Kayaoğlu, Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 2001, pp. 138-141.
4 Düstûr, Birinci tertip, Istanbul: Başvekalet Neşriyat ve Müdevvenat Dairesi Müdürlüğü, 1293 (1877), vol. 3, p. 442-443.
5 Sava Paşa, Mekâtib-i Âliye-i Fenniye Yani Dârülfünûn-ı Sultanî Nizamnâme-i Dâhiliyesiyle Dürûs Cedveli, Istanbul: La Türki Matbaası, 1293 (1876), p. 10; İhsanoğlu, “Darülfünûn Tarihçesine Giriş”, p. 217.
6 İhsanoğlu, “Darülfünûn Tarihçesine Giriş”, pp. 220-221.
7 Sava Paşa, Nizamnâme, pp. 16-18; Osman Ergin, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, Istanbul: Eser Neşriyat, 1977, vol. 1-2, p. 700; İhsanoğlu, “Darülfünûn Tarihçesine Giriş”, pp. 227-228.
8 Mahmud Cevad, Maârif-i Umûmiye, pp. 165-167. The school principal Halil Bey who gave a speech in the award ceremony of Imperial School at the end of the 1878-1879 academic year did not mention the reasons for closure and avoided saying “somehow” in this statement: “Two school allocated for the subjects of Law and Road Birdges within Imperial School were somehow closed temporarily. This time they are rearranged and expanded.” (Mahmud Cevad, Maârif-i Umûmiye, p. 163).
9 Mahmud Cevad, Maârif-i Umûmiye, pp. 171-172.
10 İhsanoğlu, “Darülfünûn Tarihçesine Giriş”, p. 224.
11 Ergin, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, vol. 3-4, pp. 1151-1161; Çağatay Uluçay and Enver Kartekin, Yüksek Mühendis Okulu, Istanbul: Berksoy Matbaası, 1958, pp. 130-165; Kâzım Çeçen, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi’nin Kısa Tarihçesi, Istanbul: İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi Bilim ve Teknoloji Tarihi Araştırma Merkezi, 1990; Ergün Toğrol, İ.T.Ü. İnşaat Fakültesi Cumhuriyetin Ellinci Yılı Kitabı, Istanbul: The Centre For East Asian Culture, 1976.
12 Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, pp. 1154-1155.
13 Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, pp. 1155-1156.
14 This issue was regulated in the Article 20 of the regulation: “Students who graduate from the school after the completion of education will be deemed suitable depending on their scores and what the budget allows and will be sent to proper areas in Europe to see practice.”
15 BOA, İ.MMS, nr. 3418 (25 Shaban 1301 [June 20, 1884]); Düstûr, Birinci tertip Istanbul: Başvekalet Neşriyat ve Müdevvenat Dairesi Müdürlüğü, 1302 (1886), Zeyl 4, pp. 134-139. The complete text of this regulation was provided by Kâzım Çeçen (Çeçen, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi, pp. 59-62).
16 Güngör Evren, “İ.T.Ü. nün Tarihinden: Hendese-i Mülkiye”, İTÜ’den Haberler, no. 1 (1978), p. 25.
17 Uluçay and Kartekin, Yüksek Mühendis Okulu, pp. 134-136.
18 BOA, İ.MMS, nr. 4575 (19 Muharram 1307 [September 15, 1889]); Ergin, Maarif Tarihi, pp. 1156-1157.
19 The decision to give the the title of rütbe-i rabia to the 13 students who graduated from the School of Civil Engineering was issued. BOA, İ.DH, nr. 85394 (2 Dhu al-Qada 1305 [July 11, 1888]).
20 BOA, İ.DH, nr. 98714 (17 Jumada al-Ula 1309 [December 19, 1891]).
21 A decree was issued on 14 Qanun al-Awwal 1319 (November 27, 1903) regarding employing the graduates in the construction of Hejaz Railroad temporarily (Düstûr, Birinci tertip, Ankara: Ankara Başvekalet Devlet Matbaası, 1941, vol. 7, p. 1098).
22 Uluçay and Kartekin, Yüksek Mühendis Okulu, pp. 159-164.
23 Düstûr, İkinci tertip, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Osmaniye, 1329 (1913), vol. 1, pp. 104-105; Takvîm-i Vekâyi‘, 14 Jumada al-Ula 1329/30 April 1327 (May 13, 1911), no. 821.
24 Düstûr, İkinci tertip, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1336 (1920), vol. 7, pp. 624-626; Takvîm-i Vekâyi‘, 6 Shaban 1333/June 6, 1331 (June 19, 1915), no. 2207.
25 Kemal Özüdoğru, Yaşadıkça Öğrenmek-Karl Terzaghi’nin Hayatı, Istanbul: TMMOB İstanbul Şubesi, 2000.
26 28 Mayıs 1928 tarih ve 1275 sayılı Yüksek Mühendis Mektebi hakkında kanun.
27 Law Regarding the Transfer of İstanbul School of Engineering and Technical School to the Ministry of Education, dated September 22, 1941 and no. 4121
28 Law Regarding Istanbul Technical University, dated July 12, 1944 and no. 4619
29 Bedi Ilgım, İstanbul Mühendislik ve Mimarlık Akademisi, Istanbul: Inkılap ve Aka Basımevi, 1973; Emre Dölen, “Mühendislik Eğitimi”, TCTA, vol. 2, pp. 511-516.