Find a Ponts engineer
Are you looking for an engineer from the Ponts et chaussées administration or public works? You’re in the right place!
Here is some information to help you understand the types of students and research tools.
For an engineer from École des ponts et chaussées, Civilian or from the Corps
In the 18th century, there were only students and engineers of the Corps (the Corps des ponts was created in 1716).
However, from its creation, the School also accepted free students (auditeurs libres), including many foreigners, although their official admission dates from 1825. They did not receive diplomas. From 1851, the School accepted students who had not graduated from Polytechnique (a school created in 1794, of which École des ponts had become a training school). Depending on the period, they were referred to as external, regular or civilian students and their years of study earned them a diploma. They were refused the title of Ponts et chaussées civil engineer, in favor of that of civil construction engineer (1894).
It was not until 1934 that civilian students obtained the title of École des ponts et chaussées engineer. Some, in the 19th century, took the competitive exams to become an engineer, head or deputy head of section of the auxiliary framework of public works (see below).
The admission of free students remained authorized.
To find the student you are looking for, see:
- the list of students of the Corps, civilian students, free students and visitors of École des ponts et chaussées from 1744 to 1930
- the list of engineers on the Ponts et chaussées digital heritage library
- the career files of the Corps des ponts et chaussées engineers, which can be consulted at the National Archives. See the inventory-index entitiled "Ingénieurs-des-Ponts-Chaussées (1748-1932)" of the National Archives
It is more difficult to follow the careers of free students and civil engineers who did not join the administration. Indeed, they often worked in private companies that were not always identified.
For the many foreign civilians who returned to their countries, their career paths are usually prestigious, but these records are kept in their country of origin.
For a conducteur:
The conducteurs (former name of a Corps of public works engineers) entered the administration by competitive examination, often as clerks and then conducteurs. Some of them saw their careers through as "3rd class Ponts et chaussées engineers" or as 3rd or 2nd class Ponts et chaussées engineers, without ever having attended the School. After the First World War, the Corps des Conducteurs was replaced by the Corps des ingénieurs des travaux publics de l’État, the ITPE, or engineers of public works of the State.
In the mid-19th century, the School opened a specific competitive examination for conducteurs and then for ITPEs (after 1918), which allowed some of them to enter the School and obtain a diploma. They were considered as Corps engineers.
In 1953, the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Tourism decided to create the school that would become the École nationale des travaux publics de l'État (ENTPE - the National School of Public Works), which trained ITPEs.
To find information about conducteurs:
Other than for those who studied at the School, there are no sources for conducteurs at the School.
- It is possible to reconstruct the careers of conducteurs and ITPEs from the Ministry's directories or the "Personnel" section of the Annales des ponts et chaussées.
- Contact the ENTPE for information on their former students (after 1953)
- Some of the conducteurs' career files can be consulted at the National Archives. They are not kept at the School. See the alphabetical directory "Dossiers individuels des conducteurs des ponts-et-chaussées - XVIIIe - XIXe siècles" stored at the National Archives.
For an engineer, head or deputy head of section of the auxiliary framework of public works
The ambitious Freycinet Plan for public works, implemented from 1878-1879, aimed to develop local railroads and canals in 10 years. The staff of the Ministry of Public Works, especially the Corps of engineers and conducteurs, needed to be strengthened, but despite all efforts to increase the number of staff, it was not enough. The solution envisaged by the department was to put in place an auxiliary employment framework for a short period of about 12 years. On December 20, 1878, a decree governed the competitive recruitment of heads or deputy heads of section, and auxiliary engineers for public works. As mentioned above, a number of civilian alumni of the School, both French and foreign, were members of this Corps.
For information about the auxiliary framework, see:
- the career files of the engineers, heads and deputy heads of section of the auxiliary framework in the National Archives. They are not kept at the School. See the alphabetical directory "Dossiers individuels du cadre auxiliaire des Travaux Publics XIXe siècle";
- documents relating to the civilian alumni of École des ponts et chaussées, see above.
For an alumnus of the École spéciale des travaux publics (ESTP - Special School of Public Works)
School created by Léon Eyrolles, Ponts et chaussées works supervisor, who trained engineers working in the Public Works sector.
Find out more about the history of the ESTP
For an alumnus of the École Centrale
This school trained civil engineers, some of whom, like Gustave Eiffel, had careers similar to those of the Ponts engineers (in the railways for example).
Find out more about the history of the École Centrale de Paris
Contact the École Centrale libraries