Santa María University, one of Chile’s most prestigious engineering universities, boasts a beautiful oceanfront campus in the city of Valparaíso where it remains faithful to the legacy of its creator, Federico Santa María.
The main campus of Santa María Technical University (UTFSM) is located on Los Placeres Hill, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and can be seen from most locations of the port of Valparaíso. The UTFSM campus is compressed. In an area of about 23 acres it holds numerous elegant buildings and roads, compact sport fields and many beautiful gardens with native and exotic species. The campus is deemed one of the foremost examples of American Neo-Gothic style architecture in Chile.
Main building of Santa María University facing the Pacific Ocean in the port of Valparaíso, Chile.
The University was established in 1926 by the “Federico Santa María Foundation” following the death in Paris, France, of Mr. Federico Santa María Carrera, a Chilean businessman and philanthropist whose dream was the creation for Chile and the world of a high level institution in the fields of Engineering, Science and Technology.
Currently the University has about 14,000 students distributed in 5 campuses in Chile and one in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
The campus of UTFSM, overlooking the Bay of Valparaíso, can be seen from most location in the port.
UTFSM maintains about 64 study programs, including pre-grade and post-graduate (Magister and D.Eng.), and about 16 programs of continuing education. UTFSM was in 1963 the first University in Latin America to confer a doctorate.
In collaboration with LAN Airlines, Chile’s flag carrier, Santa María University runs the Academy of Aeronautical Sciences (ACA), the first of its kind in Chile and Latin America. ACA offers degrees in three areas: Commercial Aviation Engineering, Commercial Pilot and University Technician on Aeronautical Maintenance.
Building of the central library at Santa María Technical University in Valparaiso.
Currently, UTFSM is the 3rd highest ranking university in Chile according to “Qué Pasa” magazine. The ranking (somewhat equivalent to Maclean’s magazine evaluation of overall academic excellence of Canadian universities) is based on surveys of diverse players in the business world, senior executives from all sectors of industry, plus head-hunters and human resources managers, and annually assesses each of the 60 Chilean universities through the performance of their graduates.
Several gardens and shaded areas provide quiet places for study or rest.
Who was Federico Santa María?
Federico Santa María Carrera was born (15 Aug. 1845) in Valparaíso, Chile. Although coming from two of the most respected and influential Chilean families of the 19th century, he left school at age 14 to take employment with local businesses for fairly low wages. When he was 16, using some savings and selling a ring given to him by his mother, Federico bought a modest boat to start a small local marine cargo service. Things went well, which allowed the young entrepreneur the purchase of two larger vessels and to expand his shipping business to other ports in the north of Chile.
Portrait of Federico Santa María Carrera, Chilean businessman and philanthropist.
Once he had enough money and experience, he created larger enterprises such as the Valparaíso Shipyards, a Tugboat Company, he was a partner in a couple of starting railway companies and participated as a major shareholder in the development of the South American Steamship Company (Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores, CSAV), one of the oldest shipping companies in the world and currently the largest in Latin America.
These successful business ventures made Federico a millionaire. He travelled the world and then settled in France where he started a large scale beet sugar trading business, which he later expanded to wheat and wine. Although his businesses prospered tremendously, and Federico soon became a multimillionaire, he kept an austere lifestyle, always avoiding superfluous expenses. Santa María became a major player in the beet sugar market and the French economy. During World War I he supported the French Army, donating uniforms and weapons for an entire regiment.
By the time he was getting older and friends advised him to take a rest to recover his health, he refused, arguing that his aim was to keep on fighting till his death. As busy as he was making his fortune in Europe, Federico always kept a deep love for his country and a strong commitment to his native city, Valparaíso.
Santa María died in Paris on December 20, 1925. He had no descendants, thus he left his fortune to a Foundation that would provide to Valparaíso a study center consisting of a School of Arts and Crafts and a College of Engineers. Additionally, Santa María stated in his will that during the first ten years, the professors should be foreigners.
The ashes of the great benefactor were brought back to Valparaíso and rest at the foot of his monument, facing the sea, in front of the main building of the university he created and bears his name.