Global Engineers: Professional Trajectories of the Graduates of the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures (1830s–1920s)
The expansion of global capitalism in the decades around the turn of the twentieth century included growing investment in all kinds of projects and enterprises that required technical expertise. In this world, engineers carved out for themselves an expanding area of opportunities: as independent professionals offering their services, as private and public employees and as business owners. This chapter compares two heterogeneous groups of graduates of the prestigious Parisian engineering school, École centrale des arts et manufactures: alumni born in the Ottoman Empire and those born in Spain and Latin America. Reconstructing their biographies allows me to ascertain the importance of different factors that shaped their professional mobility, such as ethno-religious networks, the links of friendship and expertise created during studies at the École centrale or the connection between the school and specific French companies operating beyond the frontiers of metropolitan France.