Our history


CDI was founded in Paris in 1986, to take advantage of the dynamic global economy that was emerging.

These years marked a change of an era: Europe, West as well as East, industrialised, emerged from the command economy which, during the “reconstruction” had continued the war economy (First World War, Civil wars, Second World War, Cold war). The mid 1980s marked the emergence of the continental European economy into the market economy, of which the European Union is one of the regulators. At the same time, European organisations started taking their place in the global industrial and financial economy.

This change of era was destined to change the development of engineers in Europe.  For almost a century (1880-1980), development of scientists and engineers had been almost exclusively dedicated to the intra-European industrial war: vehicle mechanisation, railways, air transportation, iron and steel manufacturing, energy, nuclear, resource planning & production had been devised and directed towards winning the military battles to be able to impose new power relations.  In the repeated massacres that followed (a hundred million war dead, famines, genocides), how many young people killed or not born, unable to bear new ideas, have fled to America, denied Europe the power to rebuild itself?  The command economy was principally a transformation from the war economy, driven by production engineers.  The aged pre-war elite, the war survivors still in power perpetuated the old world for too long.  The great youth revolts of the 1960s and 1970s expressed the deeply held desire to get out of the war culture that continued to impregnate everything.

In the 1980s, the final political and social aftermaths of this “great intra-European civil war” final disappeared in Europe:  the symbolic collapse of the Berlin wall accelerated the change.  The culture of European engineers could also be re-oriented as “a weapon of peace”, as quoted by Samuel Pisar.

Throughout Europe we saw, innovation and value creation combining, breakthrough techniques spreading, greater understanding of product quality defined by customer satisfaction, freely expressed by the act of purchase, the ability to locate necessary resources for innovation by the creation of businesses, discovering new technical resources for services, understanding market complexity, these are the new stakes in the development of peacetime engineers.  In other words, by bringing together the entrepreneurial spirit with engineering science needed by the new era, the Collège des Ingenieurs is a new centre of excellence which, for a new educational ‘mix’, for the past 25 years has focused on selecting talent coming out of the best engineering schools and universities in Europe, to have, despite the small numbers, a maximum impact out of its bases in Paris, Stuttgart and soon Turin, as well as its programme aimed at talent from eastern Europe, Russia and the Ukraine (Copernic)

The worldwide economic depression which has spread since 2008, after two decades of exceptional growth and globalisation, shows above all, a lack of intellectual control and understanding of the change mechanisms that made possible the enormous growth of wealth from different parts of the world.  We appreciate that the talent needed to understand today’s complex technical, economic, social and financial systems that energize our planet are very rare.
Without some intellectual advance which will enable us to understand the complexities at work, overcautious politicians could impose stifling controls: what is the point of armies of blind regulators in the labyrinth of today’s complexity, if nobody knows exactly why wealth has ever increased or been destroyed.  A movement towards the development of new actors, including regulators, is both urgent and necessary, and on all continents.  Obviously, we need to build a network for development and exchange of ideas on these subjects, and the Collège des Ingenieurs is ready to play its part.

Timeline :

  • Pre-founding advisory committee, with Jean Peyrelevade as chairman.
  • Founding of the Collège des Ingenieurs by Philippe Mahrer, director.
  • September, opening of the first class of the College des Ingenieurs.
  • Creation of the first company Chair by Jacques Pericchi (Strategy of Human Resources, Air Liquide).
  • With the support of the French Président de la République, creation of the COPERNIC Programme (for Central and Eastern European graduates) in co-operation with the French Ministry for Foreign Affaires, Institut d´Etudes Politiques de Paris (Science Po), Ecole des Mines de Paris, Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées.
  • The CDI settles at 49, rue de l’Université, Paris.
  • Creation of the Actuary Programme of the CDI.
  • Partnership with the Université de Marne la Vallée (Master degree in applied mathematics for Insurance).
  • Creation of the CDI-China programme, with the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China.           
  • First general meeting of the Copernic Alumni Association in Budapest.
  • Foundation of the Collège des Ingénieurs in Germany (Stuttgart) by Knut Stannowski with the support of the presidential office of the Land Baden-Württemberg.
  • Opening of the CDI in Montreal.
  • The CDI now boasts more than 500 alumni.
  • Collaboration with the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.
  • Creation of the first CDI in-company top executive programme : Marco Polo Programme, Executive programme of Bouygues Construction.
  • Opening of a second intake of the CDI Programme in January.
  • Opening of an agency in Switzerland (St. Gallen).
  • First German alumni meeting in Baden-Baden, creation of the Association of German Alumni (CDI Alumni Deutschland e.V.).
  • The CDI participates in the Hetzel Commission (French Government Commission for the reforms of the French universities).
  • The CDI celebrates its twentieth anniversary (and its 1000th graduate).
  • The CDI principles (20th yearbook edition).
  • Cooperation with TU9, association of the leading German technical universities.
  • Opening of the Munich office in Germany.
  • Decision to create in Torino a new Foundation for excellence in Education in co-operation with leading Italian foundations.
  • Creation of CDI-Italia, supported by this new foundation.
  • The CDI moves into its new home in Paris, 215 Boulevard St. Germain.
  • Cooperation agreement with Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (Science and Management PhD).

Prefiguration Committee in 1985:

Independent Personalities:

Jean Peyrelevade President of Indosuez Bank,

Philippe Mahrer, since CDI Director,

Maurice Saias,  Strategy Group, Kellogg's School of Management.


Industry Representatives:

Financial Director of LagardèreSCA

Pechiney President, President of Conseil National du Patronat Français


Public Force Representatives:

Special Advisor to the First Minister

Chief of Staff of Ministre des Finances


University Representatives:

Director of l’École Normale Supérieure

Director of l’École des Ponts et Chaussées.

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215 boulevard Saint Germain - 75007 Paris

Tel. (33) 1 49 54 72 60
Fax. (33) 1 49 54 72 68


Möhlstrasse 6 - 81675 München
Fon.+49 89 600 399 10
Fax. +49 89 600 399 11



Via Giuseppe Giacosa 38, 10125 Torino.
Tel : + 39 011 0268047
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