Doctor of Engineering - a hallmark is born – 1902

Doctor of Engineering – a hallmark is born – 1902

Technische Hochschule Darmstadt’s doctoral regulations in engineering, 1899. Image: ULB Darmstadt
Technische Hochschule Darmstadt’s doctoral regulations in engineering, 1899. Image: ULB Darmstadt

On 8 March 1902, Julius Adolf Möllinger from Nuremberg and Ernst Vetterlein from Leipzig were the first Diplom engineers to receive a doctorate, after the first honorary doctorate had been awarded back in 1900. Vetterlein (1873-1950) was a lecturer in the Architecture Department of Building Arts at TH Darmstadt, where he also conducted his post-doctoral studies. He was appointed to a professorship at TH Hannover in 1919.

On 25 November 1899, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse granted Technische Hochschule Darmstadt the right to award doctorates. With a formal ceremony, TH Darmstadt finally moved up to join the ranks of the highest institutions of education in the country, on an equal footing with Germany's traditional universities.

On 6 July 1900, the Grand Duke himself was awarded the first honorary doctorate in engineering. Since then, Darmstadt has continued to award honorary doctorates to eminent scientists.

Dr.-Ing. becomes a hallmark

In the academic world, other universities were initially sceptical about this new doctoral degree. The new title had to be spelt “Doktor”, with a German 'k' instead of the Latin “Doctor”, and be written in Gothic script to distinguish it from traditional academic titles. What was meant to marginalise soon turned into a sign of quality. Just like the Dipl-Ing., the Dr.-Ing. became the hallmark of the technical universities in Germany.