Henry-Louis Duhamel du Monceau  (1700 - 1782)

Born into a noble family in Orleans, this talented experimenter and author of internationally recognised scientific and technical treatises, in particular in the fields of agronomy and shipbuilding, was one of the great minds who illuminated French thinking in the 18th century.

Etienne François, duke of Choiseul (1719-1785)
Portrait by Alexander Roslin

Born in Lorraine, descendant of a distinguished Champagne family, he was Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Minister of War and Maritime Defence, from 1758 to 1770.

History and traditions

The origins

ENSTA Paris was originaly the brainchild of Henry-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, inspector general of the Navy. He had identified the need to give the Navy's master carpenters a theoretical education, particularly in mathematics and physics, which were making quick progress, so that they would have a clearer understanding of their trade.

After founding the first school in Toulon, he transferred it to Paris in 1741. This date is recognised as the origin of our institution. After undergoing 7 lean years of under-funding, he managed to persuade the duc de Choiseul to reopen it in 1765, and continued to run the school for the rest of his life.

At the time, the institute, called School of Engineer-Constructors of Royal Vessels, was housed in the Louvre Palace. Later on, it became  known as "Ecole nationale supérieure du Génie Maitime" (National Higher College of Maritime Engineering).

The creation of ENSTA

In 1970, the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (Arms administration of the Ministry of Defence) merged the school with three of its other establishments:

  • the École Nationale Supérieure des Poudres (Powders and explosives institute)
  • the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Armement (Arms engineering institute)
  • the École des Ingénieurs Hydrographes de la Marine (Hydrographic institute.

This formed the École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées (ENSTA), the role of which is to train engineers in the naval, mechanical, nuclear, chemical, electronic and related fields. The scientific skills of each of the founding institutes survives in the broad range of research disciplines covered at ENSTA, as well as in the more general nature of its teaching and the variety of specialities offered to the students.

The school became ENSTA Paris in 2019, with the creation of Institut Polytechnique de Paris.

Today, ENSTA Paris legal status is that of a "public administrative establishment", placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence.