160 Years of Imagination and Innovation

The year 2023 marks the Riga Technical University Faculty of Civil Engineering’s 160th anniversary.

In 1863, RTU offered its first formal courses in engineering—we have a remarkable past and are still going strong.

RTU will host an on-campus celebration tomorrow at 1 p.m. with foreign guests, industry, and cooperation partners to kick-off a year-long celebration of one of the university’s flagship academic programs and recognize the contributions that RTU Engineering graduates have made to building the brighter world we enjoy today, and to imagine the ones yet to come.

In addition, seventeen Civil Engineering faculty members with more than 20 years of dedication to RTU will be given the title of Honorary Employee of RTU.  To date, 59 faculty members have received this award.

“RTU’s Faculty of Civil Engineering is a Latvian construction knowledge center where existing and future specialists, industry representatives and scientists are concentrated,” stated Mārtiņš Vilnītis, dean of RTU’s Faculty of Civil Engineering.

Riga Polytechnic (RTU today) was founded in 1862 and accepted its first class of civil engineering students for the 1863-64 academic year.

One of the department’s first graduates was Georges Armitstead (class of 1869)—a future Mayor of Riga who helped transform Latvia’s capital from a small city into a major European center of commerce, industry, and culture.

Our understanding of who can be an engineer has changed.

And over the next 155 years, thousands of RTU engineering students have forged their paths and had their lightbulb moments. They have designed everything from buildings, bridges and roads to ports and railways, developed innovative building materials, and specialized in heat, water, and gas technologies—all of which is necessary for a comfortable modern life and the infrastructure that is at times so easy to take for granted.

Across the academic department, research looks much different than it did 160 years ago. But just as their counterparts did, students are still putting their knowledge into practice.

During tomorrow’s celebration, guests will get acquainted with current research and visit the laboratories where scientific discoveries are made, including Institute of Structural Engineering, Department of Roads and Bridges, Department of Geomatics, and the Laboratory of Water Research and Environmental Biotechnology.

A lot has changed over the last 160 years, but throughout those years one thing has remained the same: RTU engineers are imaginative and innovative, leading the way to a better future. Every RTU civil engineering graduate has stories to tell about their time in Riga: the challenges faced, the lessons learned, the paths embarked on and the places they led.

The anniversary kick-off event is the first in a series of initiatives set to take place throughout 2023 that will celebrate the progress of the past 160 years and set the tone for the future.

Follow along on social media as we share stories of the department’s early days, trailblazing faculty, outstanding alumni, state-of-the-art facilities, research accomplishments, and more.