The contemporary Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology of the University of Zagreb has a long tradition in science and education since 1919, and has therefore influenced greatly the very emergence and development of modern chemical industry in Croatia and neighboring countries.
The Technical Institute Zagreb was founded on December 10, 1918. Among the six proposed departments was the Chemical-Technical Department, soon to be renamed into Chemical-Engineering Department. Vladimir Njegovan was the first and only elected professor; his duty was to provide the necessary space (lecture rooms, offices and laboratories), laboratory equipment and to gather the teaching staff. He also held the first lecture in analytical chemistry, dated October 20, 1919. This date is currently celebrated as the Faculty Day.
Among the first teachers were Ivan Marek, an inventor of the furnace for elemental analysis of organic chemicals, Ivan Plotnikov, a world renowned photochemist, Franjo Hanaman, a co-inventor of the tungsten filament for electric bulbs… Later on, Vladimir Prelog, a future Nobel Prize winner, joined the staff as well.
In 1926 the Technical Institute Zagreb joined the University of Zagreb to become the Technical Faculty. This merger opened the possibility for a more intense scientific research. In this period, besides Vladimir Prelog who first introduced organic synthesis to Croatia, many other young researches paved their way into the world of science and technology, such as Vjera Marjanović, Rikard Podhorsky, Karlo Weber, Matija Krajčinović and Miroslav Karšulin.
All of them went abroad to visit top scientific institutions of the time and returned to bring fresh ideas, increase the knowledge level and promote the development of chemical engineer profession in Croatia. As early as 1935, Rikard Podhorsky promoted the American view on chemical engineering as the distinct scientific discipline that is “as equally important to a chemical engineer as pure disciplines of chemistry and physics.”
Following the growth of technical disciplines, Technical Faculty soon began to restructure and split into various institutions. Thus, within the University of Zagreb, chemical engineering was taught at the Faculty of Chemical, Food and Mining Technology in 1956 and Faculty of Technology in 1957. Later on, Faculty of Metallurgy in 1978 and Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology in 1980 grew apart, and on November 16, 1991, two independent institutions: Faculty of Textile Technology and Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Technology were founded.