The TUHH as a Driving Force for Reform

Success is the result of innovative and courageous action. The history of the TUHH is a history of this kind of success. At few if any German universities have so many reforms been initiated and unconventional approaches been adopted so consistently as at the Hamburg University of Technology. Best of all, these reforms were developed by the TUHH itself.

To develop technology for people has been one of the TUHH’s founding missions since 1978. Innovation within the technological sciences is, of course, its primary task, but innovation of the TUHH itself is a part of the motivation and a basis for the success of teaching, research, technology transfer, and continuing education.

The TUHH has set trends for the development of German universities. Some of these reforms are listed here.

Milestones set from 1978 to the present


  • The University Council elects Prof. Dr. Ed Brinksma as the TUHH’s sixth President
  • The Parliament of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg approves the order for a growth concept for the TUHH, which should reach into the year 2028
  • TUHH is one of the best technical universities in Germany in the international U-Multirank
  • Opening of the incubator ICGT in cooperation between TUTECH and TUHH Startup Dock
  • Start of the IT platform to strengthen IT across universities in Hamburg


  • Successul evaluation and extension of the Collaborative Research Center "Tailor-Made Multi-Scale Materials Systems M3"


  • DESY and TUHH conclude cooperation agreement

  • Go-ahead for the TUHH and HZG Center for High-Performance Materials

  • First junior professorship at the TUHH’s Excellence Research Group for IT Security with partner NXP

  • TUHH has over 7,000 students for the first time.


  • Foundation of the Hamburg Online University (HOOU) under the TUHH’s aegis

  • The TUHH offers a new study program, mytrack, leading to a Bachelor’s degree in eight semesters, with a longer introductory or orientation phase.

  • Excellence with a model character: The TUHH establishes with its Excellence Research Group a new form of research funding. In cooperation with business five new junior professorships are established at the TUHH in the areas of Green Technologies, Life Science Technologies, and Aviation & Maritime Systems.


  • The TUHH is awarded founder university status by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research; establishment of the TUHH Startup Dock.

  • TU & YOU is the new umbrella organization for all alumni activities at the TUHH. Its aim is to promote lifelong links with all TUHH students and staff.

  • Hamburg Center for Medical Technology established jointly with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE).

  • Graduate Academy for Technology and Innovation established at the TUHH.

  • The TUHH is certified as a family-friendly university.

  • The TUHH sets up its first overseas alumni chapter in Mexico City.


  • The TUHH again bundles its research potential, defining three competence areas: Green Technologies, Life Science Technologies, and Aviation & Maritime Technologies. In addition, the future cross-sectoral topics New Materials and Digitization are anchored in the TUHH’s profile.

  • Inauguration of the new TUHH main building Am Schwarzenberg-Campus 1


  • The University Council elects Prof. Dr. Garabed Antranikian as the TUHH’s fifth President.

  • An additional vice president for structural development joins the existing presidium.

  • The TUHH’s fourth collaborative research center, for Tailor-Made Multiscale Materials Systems, is established.

  • Establishment of the TUHH’s Center for Teaching and Learning where extensive teaching innovations are initiated, supported, and evaluated.

  • Establishment of a workshop where students develop airships, algae reactors, and small-scale wind power plants independently on the basis of problem-based learning.


  • The Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services (CML) is established at the TUHH.

  • Project-based learning is introduced at the TUHH. Its further development to task-oriented learning is a milestone in the new didactic alignment in engineering sciences. From now on, students learn and work in small groups.


  • The TUHH founds the Laser Zentrum Nord (LZN)


  • The TUHH converts all study programs to the bachelor’s and master’s degree system.

  • The TUHH implements its first structure and development plan.

  • Restructuring of research with the establishment of six focal points of research.


  • TUHH research scientists develop independently focal points of research that bundle all forces flexibly and in an interdisciplinary manner.


  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Prof. e. h. Edwin Kreuzer becomes the TUHH’s fourth President.

  • Fourth DFG graduate college on Seaports for Future-Generation Container Ships is set up.

  • TuTech launches jointly with the Schleswig-Holstein Innovation Foundation the Industrial Biotechnology North initiative, which goes on to become the nationwide Biokatalyse2021 cluster, which in turn makes a success of the BioIndustrie2021 project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


  • Third DFG graduate college on Art and Technology is founded.


  • The TUHH is the first university in Germany to offer a dual study program, supported by the employers’ association NORDMETALL.

  • With the support of the entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kühne the Hamburg School of Logistics is established at the TUHH.


  • Ten strategic TUHH research areas are defined.


  • The University Council elects Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Nedeß as the TUHH’s third President.

  • The Presidium is enlarged by the appointment of a second Vice President, of which there are now two, the VP Research and the VP Teaching..


  • Foundation of the Northern Institute of Technology (NIT), Germany’s first institute on a public-private partnership basis. Today the Northern Institute of Technology Management is one of the oldest existing private university-level educational facilities in Germany.


  • The TUHH is honored and named a reform university – the first of four – by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.

  • The TUHH offers for the first time six international master’s study programs to enable students from overseas and other non-EU countries to study engineering “made in Germany.”


  • Establishment of the Foundation for the Promotion of the TUHH


  • Second DFG graduate college, on Offshore Structures, established at the TUHH.


  • The TUHH is the first German university to offer a bachelor’s study program on General Engineering Science.

  • Inauguration of the model Technologiezentrum Finkenwerder (THF), established jointly as a public-private partnership by Airbus and the TUHH

  • Third Collaborative Research Center established at the TUHH on the Micromechanics of Multiphase Materials

  • The TUHH is a founding member of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), an international association of young and entrepreneurial universities in Europe.


  • The University Council elects Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Hauke Trinks as its second President.


  • The TUHH founds its first commercial enterprise, TUHH-Technologie GmbH, to promote efficient technology transfer, consistent promotion of business startups and entrepreneurship, continuing education and the development of new ideas by a think tank.


  • Global budget: The TUHH is the first German university to gain control over its own human and material resources.

  • The TUHH becomes a member of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

  • The first graduate college, on Biotechnology, takes up its work.

  • The Center for Biomechanics is established by the TUHH jointly with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, the Boberg accident hospital, and other hospitals.


  • Conclusion of a cooperation agreement with Airbus on setting up the Technologiezentrum Finkenwerder and the establishment of the TUHH’s first endowed professorship.


  • The second Collaborative Research Center, on Cleaning Contaminated Soils, gets under way.


  • The TUHH Senate decides to set up six new focal points of research.

  • Foundation stone for the third construction stage (Buildings I and J in Denickestrasse 22) is laid.


  • The University Council elects Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinrich Mecking as its first President.


  • The Department of Ship Technology is transferred to the TUHH from the University of Hannover.


  • Inauguration of the Technikum.

  • Cooperation agreement with the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht (later to become the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht)


  • At the constituent meeting of the founding Senate, Hamburg’s Science Senator Hansjörg Sinn describes the tasks of the TUHH and defines its “technology for people” profile.


  • The TUHH is founded on May 22, 1978.

  • Its founding President is Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Hans Günter Danielmeyer.