Mechanics’ Institutes Worldwide 2021



On 16 October 1821, the world’s first mechanics institute was inaugurated as the Edinburgh School of Arts. To celebrate this event, the direct descendant institution of the Edinburgh School of Arts - Heriot-Watt University - is hosting a unique and globally significant conference to mark the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the mechanics' institute movement (MIW2021).

From this start, grew a global movement that within a century could boast of over 9,000 mechanics’ institutes around the world that trained the engineers for many different industrial revolutions, in steam energy, electricity, rail, canal, civil infrastructures, fossil fuels and now renewable energies.

But more than that, these institutes also transformed societies, enabling social mobility and economic development, but also enhancing civil society in cities and rural regions.

We want to celebrate such extraordinary achievements in this 200th anniversary event, and also to capture the moment in poetry and photographs.