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THE ECOLE NATIONALE SUPERIEURE DES MINES DE PARIS
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   Every year some 130 civil engineers, one hundred PhDs and about fifteen students in the Corps Techniques de l'Etat cycle graduate from the École des Mines, established in 1816 in the Hôtel Vendôme, its current location. The school is one of the small number of grandes écoles in the arts, sciences and business administration field, characterized by the selection of candidates on the basis of entrance exam results. Along with the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and the École Polytechnique it is one of France's three most prestigious engineering schools. Candidates take the entrance exam once they have completed two to three years of preparatory classes after the baccalauréat, such as those offered by the Lycée Saint-Louis, among others. The exam is common to other engineering schools, including the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (civil engineering), the École Polytechnique (polytechnic), the École Nationale Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Éspace (aeronautics and space), and the École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (telecommunications).

   In the early years of the École des Mines its rivals the École des Ponts et Chaussées and the École Polytechnique challenged the existence of an engineering school specialized in mining. Mine managers had been trained through specialization at the École des Ponts et Chaussées before the creation in 1783, by royal decree but under the impetus of the chemist-mineralogist Sage, of a school devoted to mining science and techniques. The first years were chaotic. The school closed down in 1791 due to a lack of funds, before reopening in 1794. In the following year it was transformed into a school for practical training for students of the École Polytechnique (then known as the Ecole des Travaux Publics), created in the mean time. Two separate institutions for practical work were started in mining towns: one at Geislaustern close to Sarrebruck and the other at Pesey in Savoie. The former never functioned as a school, while the latter was to operate autonomously until the 1840s. The École des Mines was finally re-established in 1816 in the Hôtel Vendôme with the library and the mineralogical collection that had belonged to it since its inception in 1794. Various alterations and extensions were made between 1840 and 1866, some of which were linked to Baron Haussmann's development of Paris and the construction of the Boulevard Saint Michel. The Hôtel Vendôme was extended with the addition of the Saint-Jacques building (in which the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation is now housed). Alterations and extensions continued in the twentieth century with the creation of new research centres in Ile-de-France in 1967 (materials science at Corbeil and Evry) and 1968 (earth and environment science at Fontainebleau), and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in 1976 (energy science and robotics in Nice-Sophia-Antipolis). All these new units were equipped with a library, the largest of which is at Fontainebleau, and the Paris library was extended in 1989 with underground storage facilities.

  

   École des Mines engineering students still do numerous periods of practical training in industry but, with very few exceptions, these are no longer in the mining industry. Nor does the school offer specialized training in mine engineering anymore. The school's mineralogy museum with its first-rate collection, along with its library collection on mining and metallurgy constituted throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nevertheless attest to its rich history in this particular field. The École des Mines, which has been opened to girls since 1969, is currently a multi-disciplinary engineering school that has set its sights on an international reputation and future. Apart from its civil engineers, Corps Techniques d'État and PhD students, the school proposes a range of courses and specialized degrees, particularly masters' degrees. It has twenty laboratories in the following disciplines: earth and environment science, energy and process engineering, materials science and engineering, applied mathematics, computer science, automatics, economics and social science.

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