Highlights from our 50th anniversary year

As 2019 draws to a close, we take a look at some of the special events that marked the past year.

EPFL was founded in 1969, when the Ecole Polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne (EPUL) changed its name and joined ETH Zurich as Switzerland’s second federal institute of technology. Throughout 2019, the School held a series of events to mark its 50th anniversary. As this celebratory year comes to an end, we look back at some of the highlights - all captured for posterity in a permanent online album at celebration.epfl.ch.

B for Book. To mark this special year, EPFL commissioned three renowned photographers - Catherine Leutenegger, Bogdan Konopka and Olivier Christinat - to explore the campus from multiple perspectives. The resulting book , which captures science, buildings and people in their full glory, is like a special gift: one that the photographers gave to EPFL, that EPFL gave to itself and to the public, and that people can give to each other.

C for Campus Lectures. EPFL invited no fewer than 13 prestigious speakers - including five Nobel laureates - to give public speeches on campus. The series included captivating presentations from best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari and 2018 Fields Medal-winning mathematician Alessio Figalli.

E for Education. For its 50th anniversary year, EPFL shone a spotlight on its three missions, the first of which - alphabetically - is education. On 17 May, the School held an Education Day for over 300 teachers, guidance counselors and other education practitioners. The event was an opportunity to take a close look at the discipline and, more specifically, how to teach science and manage the transition from high school to college. The key takeaway from the day came in a speech by Eric Mazur, a physics professor at Harvard University, who said: "You don’t learn by watching. You learn by doing."

I for Innovation. The School’s second mission, again in alphabetical order, is innovation - a theme that also had its own dedicated event with an Innovation Day in late November. That’s when EPFL invited industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs to talk about their research partnerships and joint ventures with EPFL and how such initiatives help foster innovative thinking. The very next day, the School also held its very first Investor Day , where attendees had an opportunity to learn about many of EPFL’s startups - from budding enterprises to late-stage companies.

N for New Logo. After a long wait, and some trepidation, EPFL’s new logo finally arrived. And we’re happy to report that it’s been embraced with open arms. That much is clear from the many snapshots of the logo standing proud on the new Place Maurice Cosandey, often with a smiling crowd beside it - and in some cases on top of it!

O for Open Science... Open science is set to be one of the biggest battles in science in the coming decade. And EPFL is deeply involved, giving open and reproducible research the attention it deserves. On 18 October, the School held an Open Science Day , inviting world-class researchers and science policymakers to share their thoughts on some pressing questions at this time of crucial change.

...and for Open House . EPFL flung open its doors to the public on 14 and 15 September. The event was a resounding success, helped no doubt by the bright sunshine, as close to 40,000 people came along to take a peek behind the scenes. Some 1,500 staff and students pitched in, organizing around 300 public events. Highlights included the Scientastic science fair, Drone Days, and activities led by star names such as Fred Courant, Physics Girl and Aleksi Briclot.

R for Research. EPFL’s third and final mission, alphabetically speaking, is research. Again, the theme got the attention it rightly deserved for the School’s jubilee year with the EPFL Research Days - events covering different themes and spread across our five campuses in Sion, Neuchâtel, Geneva, Fribourg and Lausanne. Between 10 and 14 September, key figures from the worlds of academia, politics and industry spoke about how research can contribute to society and discussed collaborative initiatives with and between campuses.

W for Women. For the second year running, EPFL Alumni and EPFL’s Equal Opportunities Office celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March. This year’s panel discussion was a remarkable and inspiring event, with five generations of female EPFL graduates speaking of their backgrounds and careers.