REDTENBACHER IN KARLSRUHE 1840 - 1863

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On July 17, 1840, Prof. Ferdinand Redtenbacher was appointed to teach at the Polytechnic School in Karlsruhe. He relocated there in the summer of 1841, and the next few years were dedicated to teaching and working on scientific projects, including the development of modern mechanical engineering. In 1848, Redtenbacher’s home city of Steyr nominated him as their representative in the German Parliament, which met in Frankfurt, but Redtenbacher turned it down, choosing instead to concentrate on his work.

It was during this time that Redtenbacher’s career came to maturity: he spent his time working on the projects and ideas that he had begun in Vienna and Zurich and was able to bring them to realization. He brought his strong will to bear on his vision for revising the technical schools, single-mindedly accomplishing the foundation of a separate mechanical engineering school at Karlsruhe in 1860. The strength of his work helped to raise this department to full university rank in Germany, and it became second only to the technical schools in Prague and Vienna in terms of students and prestige. Based on his dedication to the school, Redtenbacher became Director of the Karlsruhe Polytechnic School in 1857. Under his leadership, the school won international acclaim and became a model for many technical schools around Europe. Many of his students became famous in their own right, including Carl Benz, who would go on to invent the automobile; Eugen Langen, co-founder of the world’s first engine factory; Emil Skoda, founder of the Skoda engineering company; and Oscar Henschel, locomotive producer.

Redtenbacher began to show signs of stomach illness in 1861, but continued to lecture until 1862, when the pain prevented him from work. On April 16, 1863, Professor Redtenbacher died of stomach cancer.

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