Lithographie des heutigen Bauhofs (früher Peunthof)
Lithographie des Bauhofs (früher Peunthof, Sitz des ersten chemischen Laboratoriums, genutzt von 1836 -1904)

The Faculty of Chemistry can look back on a long history that is rich in tradition

Technical Chemistry has a very long tradition at Nuremberg University of Applied Sciences. By means of its teaching, but also by means of its practice-oriented research and development, the Faculty dates back to the era of the industrial revolution at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Chemisch-technischer Kurs an der städtischen Polytechnischen Schule (Gruppenbild)
Gruppenbild eines chemisch-technischen Kurses an der damaligen Polytechnischen Schule

The beginnings – Municipal Polytechnic School

The changes in the craft industry associated with the Industrial Revolution also resulted in the founding of trade schools, building schools, and polytechnics in many places. This is how the “Städtische Polytechnische Schule”, which can be considered the oldest precursor institution of Nuremberg Tech, was founded in Nuremberg in1823. At this school, the city council appointed the chemist Dr Friedrich Wilhelm Engelhart to the position of teacher of physics and chemistry as early as 1829. One of his tasks was to set up a chemical laboratory.

Dr Engelhart was a student of important chemists of his time, including Berzelius in Stockholm and Dumas in Paris. The “Handbuch der technischen Chemie”, (Handbook of Technical Chemistry) the standard work in this field at the time, was translated into German by him and provided with numerous important notes. In addition to his teaching and his literary work, “technology transfer”, to use a very modern term, was particularly close to his heart: He earned merits as a helper and adviser to the industrial companies emerging in Nuremberg at that time. Unfortunately, Engelhart died as early as 1837.

Hauptlabor der polytechnischen Schule
Blick ins Hauptlabor der polytechnischen Schule

Era as a state polytechnic school

In 1833, the Polytechnic School was taken over by the Bavarian State. The Rector of the State Polytechnic School from 1839 to 1849 was the physicist Georg Simon Ohm. At the time of Ohm’s rectorate, Chemistry was represented by Thomas Leykauf, the former assistant to Engelhart. He was appointed Professor after the death of his teacher. He made a name for himself thanks to his work in the field of dyeing and was a technical adviser to several companies and co-founder of the NÜRNBERGER ULTRAMARINFABRIK. Together with Ohm, he published a paper on the passivity of iron, in which it was already proven that this phenomenon is caused by an iron oxide coating.

The graduates of the State Polytechnic School continued their studies at the so-called “cameralistic faculty” of the University of Munich or went into the relevant industry as civil engineers, mechanical engineers, or chemical engineers.

Wägeraum zu Zeiten der Industrieschule
Blick in den Wägeraum zu Zeiten der Industrieschule (um 1864)

Era as an industrial school

In 1864, the Polytechnic Schools of Bavaria were dissolved. As part of this measure, the Munich Polytechnic School was transformed into a technical university, which today is known as Munich University of Applied Science. The Nuremberg Polytechnic School developed into a so-called industrial school. From the very beginning, this school had departments of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. After two years, the students acquired the right to attend the Technical University. After three years, they were able to go straight into industry, where they could work as plant engineers.

The Head of the Chemical Engineering department of the industrial school was Thomas Leykauf, who had been taken over from the Polytechnic School as Royal Professor of Chemical Engineering. In addition, on Liebig’s recommendation, the Marburg private lecturer Dr Hermann Kämmerer was appointed Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy in 1870. When Leykauf died in 1871, Kämmerer became his successor as Head of the Chemical Engineering department.

Kämmerer had begun his studies at the Staatliche Polytechnische Schule in Nuremberg as a student of Leykauf, then continued in Leipzig and Heidelberg with Bunsen and Carius among others, and finally became Liebig’s assistant in Munich before he completing his qualification as a professor in Marburg. Following his appointment, he set up a teaching laboratory in Nuremberg that was exemplary for the time. Students independently carried out chemical analyses on a larger scale than was possible before. Students from the University of Munich also took part in this analytical laboratory course.

Das Hauptportal der Industrieschule mit angrenzendem Chemiegebäude
Seitlicher Blick auf das Hauptportal der Industrieschule mit angrenzendem Chemiegebäude

In his capacity as “city chemist”, Kämmerer also carried out investigations into water, food, and consumer goods on behalf of the Magistrate in the chemical laboratory of the industrial school, with the help of two assistants. The laboratory headed by Professor Kämmerer therefore came to form the nucleus of the Chemical Research Institute of the City of Nuremberg, which still exists today.



Chemistry was represented at the Polytechnic School by only one teacher. At the industrial school, however, a single teacher was no longer sufficient. Professor Kämmerer’s laboratory was in heavy demand, due to his activities as city chemist, due to his scientific work, and due to the fact that it was also attended by external students. That is why from 1873 onwards, the teaching of Mineralogy and Chemical Technology was entrusted to lecturers.


After Kämmerer’s death in 1898, the Teacher by Royal appointment, Dr Georg Zwanziger, was appointed Royal Professor at the School of Industry and became the Head of the Chemical Engineering department. During his term of office, the Royal Bavarian Technical Centre Nuremberg was created in 1904 from the industrial school. In 1919, after the First World War and after the monarchy came to an end, the Nuremberg training centre was renamed “Höhere Technische Staatslehranstalt”. The graduates of the Chemical Engineering department received a certificate confirming their qualification to practice the profession of “chemical engineer”.


At that time, the Chemical Engineering department consisted of four teaching staff – Dr Braun, Dr Röll, Dr Luff, and Dr Hauser, the last two of whom had been students of Kämmerer. In 1928, Dr Röll, who had meanwhile been appointed professor, took over the management of the Chemical Engineering department, which he maintained during the Third Reich and afterwards until his retirement in 1956.

The University during the Third Reich

After the National Socialist party seized power, politics suddenly found its way into the school. It has to be said that National Socialism had a certain sympathy for the technical school system. It was intended to serve the advancement of gifted students from low-income backgrounds and enable a “process of selection” to be carried out. The practically oriented training, which accommodated the Nazis’ hostility towards theory, was to serve as a model for other branches of education. This appreciation was reflected by the fact that when the institution celebrated its centenary at Whitsun 1933, the Minister of Education. Mr Schemm, granted the Höhere Technische Staatslehranstalt the name “Ohm-Polytechnikum” in memory of its former rector, the great German physicist Georg Simon Ohm.

However, there was also a downside to this appreciation. Against the background of public statements against Hitler and Germany’s aspirations, a National Socialist student was denounced immediately after the centenary celebrations. This led to a press campaign in the “Fränkische Tageszeitung” newspaper against the Director of the Ohm Polytechnic, Dr Vetter. The documents still available show the unworthy fuss such an action caused back then: Dr Vetter had to publicly justify himself before the teaching staff, the civil service, and the students in connection with these accusations.



The teaching activities were also considerably disrupted by political activities such as honouring the flag, rallies, listening to radio speeches by the “Führer and Chancellor of the Reich” together, political lectures, etc.

The Board of Directors (Dr Gsundbrunn, Dr Deuerlein, Dr Wollner, and Dr Fäustle) of the Chemical Engineering department was dismissed in 1945 by order of the military government, with the exception of Prof. Röll. Only Dr Fäustle returned to the Ohm Polytechnic in 1956 after a period spent working as a grammar school teacher and in industry. The directors who were dismissed were replaced by Dr Holstamm, Dr Hobbie, and Dr Riederle, who joined the faculty as new members in 1946 and 1947.

Nach Luftangriff zerstörte Chemie- und Verwaltungsgebäude
Blick in den Innenhof des nach dem Luftangriff am 02. Januar 1945 teilweise zerstörgen Chemie- und Verwaltungsgebäudes des Technikums

The university in the post-war period

Under the direction of Prof. Röll, these gentlemen continued teaching from the summer semester 1946 onwards under the difficult conditions that characterized the post-war period. In 1952, the duration of studies was increased from five to six semesters, which meant an additional burden. The restricted amount of space available was also causing increasing difficulties.

The old Chemistry building on Liebigstrasse no longer fulfilled the latest requirements. The Chemical Engineering department had first occupied that building in 1904, at the time when the industrial school became the Royal Bavarian Technical Centre. This laboratory building replaced the first chemical laboratory, which was built according to the plans of Dr Engelhart in the Peunthof (today’s building yard) and was first occupied in 1836. The building, which also housed the school’s mechanical workshops, was located next to the former Reichsstädtisches Rentamt, which had housed the Polytechnic School since 1828.

Around 1900, the number of students increased significantly. What is more, the subject of Electrical Engineering was being developed, initially within the Mechanical Engineering department. A professor was also appointed in that subject area in 1900, which ultimately formed the basis for a fourth department. These developments made it necessary to expand the industrial school, which was not possible at the Peunthof. In this situation, it was therefore very favourable that the following its merger with Maschinenfabrik Augsburg, the company Klett & Co was relocated to MAN in Südstadt, its previous site in Wöhrd was up for sale.

Theodor Freiherr von Cramer-Klett sold this area to the city of Nuremberg at half price subject to the condition that the industrial school would be built there. In the spring of 1904, the school therefore moved into a spacious building on Wollentorstrasse. The Chemistry building was constructed directly next to the main building on the Liebigstraße. The available area between Wollentorstraße, Liebigstraße, Prinzregentenufer, and Wassertorstraße was so ample that building land was also available for later extensions.

Spuren des Luftangriffs vom 02. Januar 1945
Blick auf die teilweise zerstörten Gebäude nach dem Luftangriff vom 02. Januar 1945

Due to the worst attack on Nuremberg during the Second World War on 2 January 1945, parts of the main building were destroyed. The Chemistry building, on the other hand, got off relatively lightly, with only windows and doors damaged and the roof partially destroyed. After the military government granted the licence, a joint effort of teachers, officials, and students restored the buildings using their own resources to a sufficient extent to allow essential operations to commence in 1946.

The construction work on the old buildings were ongoing until 1953. Even during the reconstruction period, it was already clear that the old buildings would not be sufficient in the future. Even during that early phase, a spatial plan was therefore drawn up for the expansion of the institution. A particularly urgent requirement was the construction of a new Chemistry building. It was therefore decided that this would be built during the first phase of construction, together with a radiochemical laboratory and a boiler house.

In 1961, this construction phase was completed and on 9 October 1961, it was ceremonially handed over by the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs, Dr Maunz. The ceremonial speech was held by the “Atomic Minister”, Prof. Balke. In 1966, the old chemistry building on Liebigstraße was demolished and replaced by a building that would house the Administration and the University Library. The Chemistry building on the Prinzregentenufer, which was completed in 1961, served as a home for research and teaching more than 47 years after its construction until it was replaced by a new building.

Gruppenbild Radiochemie
Ein Gruppenbild aus dem Radiochemischen Institut (zwischen 1961-1985)

Nuclear chemistry at the GSO

Back in the period when Dr Engelhart and Dr Leykauf were working in the institution, the focus of the training provided to students lay upon Chemical Engineering. A new era then commenced following the appointment of Kämmerer. As a result of his area of expertise, which was in the field of analysis, the focus of the training provided by the Chemical Engineering department of the industrial school also shifted to that field. Analytics remained the main focus of training at the Höhere Technische Lehranstalt and at the Ohm Polytechnic until after the Second World War.

It was not until the 1950s that the curriculum became more engineering-oriented. In addition to the basic chemical subjects, Physical Chemistry was now expanded as the basis of Chemical Engineering. In addition, the curriculum was expanded to include the areas of Mechanical and Thermal Process Engineering, Chemical Reaction Engineering, and Measurement and Control Engineering. Macromolecular Chemistry and its application in plastics engineering was added as an important specialization.

Abbildung einer Laborrechenanlage
Abbildung einer Laborrechenanlage in den fünfziger Jahren

Nuclear and Radiochemistry were also added to the degree programme. Following the discovery of uranium fission by Hahn and Strassmann and the construction of the atomic bomb, nuclear engineers succeeded in constructing the first nuclear reactor after the Second World War. Considerable importance was attached to that success. It was believed that nuclear power could be used to secure the energy needs of industrial society for the future and to become independent of fossil fuels. It was therefore felt that engineers from various disciplines, especially Technical Chemistry, should be familiarized with radiochemical and isotopic working methods in theory and practice. In order to make this possible, it was necessary to construct the radiochemical institute. This was carried out simultaneously with the construction of the Chemistry building as described above.

The scope of the radiochemical and nuclear training was defined in the guidelines of the European Atomic Energy Community for special training in radiochemistry and isotope technology. This one-semester Euratom training was offered at the Ohm Polytechnic from 1961 onwards. Participants were graduates of the Ohm Polytechnic, students of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and engineers from industry. The certificate issued was recognized in the Euratom countries. When public attitudes towards nuclear energy became increasingly sceptical in many countries, especially in Germany, at the end of the 1970s, demand for the subject among students then decreased. As a result, training in radiochemistry and nuclear engineering was finally discontinued around 1985.

The Radiochemistry building was converted into a laboratory building for Physical Chemistry, which had previously been housed in several rooms of the Chemistry building.

"alter" Chemie-Bau (von 1961 bis 2008 Heimat der Fakultät Chemie)
Bild des alten Chemie-Bau's der Fakultät Chemie (von 1961 bis 2008 genutzt)

1960 to 2006

The described expansion of the curriculum in various directions and the fourfold increase in the number of students between 1960 and 1970 also made it necessary to expand the faculty. In 1971, this comprised fourteen lecturers.

When the Nuremberg University of Applied Sciences was founded in 1971, the Ohm Polytechnic was the most important component. The Chemistry department was incorporated into the University of Applied Sciences as the Department of Technical Chemistry and Process Engineering.

Since 1972, this department has offered two courses of study, Technical Chemistry and Process Engineering. Since then, the graduates have completed their studies with the academic degree of Dipl.-Ing. (FH).

In March 1989, the Department of Technical Chemistry and Process Engineering was divided into two independent departments, “Technical Chemistry” and “Process Engineering”.

Following the introduction of a new curriculum in 2003, the Department of Technical Chemistry was renamed the Department of Applied Chemistry. This name reflects the traditional application-oriented character of the degree programme.

This degree programme was the first one to offer three specializations (General Chemistry, Biochemistry, Technical Chemistry) and the first to cater for the different interests of the students. All three specializations were based on a common first academic phase, followed by specialization in the second phase of study. The introduction of these specializations, and especially Biochemistry, which had previously been under-represented, made it possible to significantly enhance the attractiveness of the degree programme. This made up for the decline in the number of first-year Chemistry students in the late 1990s.

Seitenansicht des neuen Chemiegebäudes (seit 2008)
Seitenansicht des neuen Chemiegebäudes, bezogen von der Fakultät Chemie im Jahr 2008

The new Chemistry building - 2006 until today

After decades of planning, construction of the new T-building began in 2006. Due to its age, the C Building used until then could no longer be adapted to the significantly increased requirements in terms of safety and infrastructure. The new building was occupied in spring 2008 and was ceremonially inaugurated in June 2008, in the presence of the Prime Minister Dr Beckstein. Considerable financial resources were provided for the initial installation, which also enabled the equipment to be modernized.

Stairwell in the chemistry building

Bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes

Parallel to the move, the Bologna Process was also implemented within the AC Faculty and the “Diplom” course was replaced by a bachelor’s degree programme in the winter semester 2007/2008, while retaining the specializations “Biochemistry”, “Chemistry”, and “Technical Chemistry”.

Since then, the number of first-year students has remained stable at around 150 per year. When designing the bachelor’s degree programme, particular importance was attached to ensuring that the practical part of the course was not reduced and that the university continued to produce graduates who were well prepared for professional practice, despite the changed conditions. One of the ways in which this is achieved is by actively involving numerous students in ongoing development projects in cooperation with partners from the commercial sector.

While the students initially acquired the Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) degree, this degree was replaced by the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree as a result of the accreditation procedure introduced under the 2010 study regulations.

The Faculty offers the master’s degree programme in Applied Chemistry (M.Sc.) as a postgraduate course of study, which reflects the three areas of specialization within the bachelor’s degree programme. For graduates specializing in Technical Chemistry, the inter-Faculty master’s degree programme in Process Engineering and Chemical Engineering is also suitable.