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History of the Geodetic Institute

The "Polytechnic School" in Karlsruhe was founded in 1825 through the crucial involvements of the geometer and engineer Johann Gottfried Tulla and the architect Friedrich Weinbrenner. On January 9th, 1868, Wilhelm Jordan was appointed as professor to the newly created department of "Practical Geometry and Higher Geodesy" at the Polytechnic School in Karlsruhe. This day therefore represents the birth of the oldest Geodetic Institute in Germany.


The designation "Institute of Geodesy" was first used in 1886 by Jordan's successor Matthäus Haid (1882-1917). Following Haid there came Martin Näbauer (1917­-1926), Adolf Schlötzer (1926­-1952) and Heinrich Merkel (1938­-1958) [Chair of the newly created department Geodesy II], Heinrich Lichte (1953­-1978 ), Heinz Draheim (1959­-1984), Eugen Kuntz (1965­-1990) [first Chair of Astronomy and Electronic Geodesy] as well as Hermann Mälzer (1979­-1988) and Hans-Georg Wenzel (1988-1999) [Professor for Geo-dynamics]. After Lichte followed Jan van Mierlo (1979-2000) and Maria Hennes (from 2000) [assigned as Chair in Surveying and Geodetic Sensor Technology]. After Draheim followed Günter Schmitt (1988-2010) [assigned as Chair in Mathematical and Data Processing Geodesy] as well after Kuntz Bernhard Heck (from 1991) [assigned as Chair in Physical and Satellite Geodesy]. Finally after Schmitt followed Martin Breunig (from 2010) [appointed Chair in Geoinformatics].


The Chair and the Institute of Photogrammetry and Topography - today under the name Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - were established in 1960 and are independent of the Geodetic Institute, whose professors traditionally maintain a cooperative working environment.

Entwicklung des GIK
Overview of the development of the Geodetic Institute (German)

The main surveying exercises (Hauptvermessungsübungen, or HVÜ) which first took place in 1892 in Furtwangen, the Black Forest, continue to play an important role in the training of surveyors. Practical surveying knowledge provides an optimal education with intensive courses (project studies) where students work together on projects and are assessed in a timely manner and are given feedback for their efforts.

The breakdown of each major surveying exercise has also been maintained for the last 30 years:

For students of the 2nd semester Topographic surveys (2 weeks)
For students of the 4th semester Cadastral land register (2 weeks)
For students of the 6th semester Land and engineering surveying (1 week)

HVUE IIIa 1895

Participants in the main surveying exercise IIIa 1895

HVUE IIIa 2004

Participants in the main surveying exercise IIIa 2004