Northwestern Polytechnical University, located in the city Xi’an, is a national key university under the direct administration of the State Council. It has received support from the government for its advanced equipment and research facilities and outstanding faculty members; moreover, it has promoted inter-University cooperation and collaboration with industries and enterprises to enhance its academic level further. In the past 70 years, Northwestern Polytechnical University has witnessed several phases of development and kept close ties with China’s economic construction. In addition, the university is known for its outstanding aeronautical science and technology programs which have been key to many significant breakthroughs in modern Chinese history.
Today’s NPU has a long history behind it. The following is its brief history that has been summarized from several materials.
1940s -1950s: The “Hongqi” of China’s Civil Aviation Industry
After the founding of New China, Northwest Polytechnical University was one of the first institutions designated to be involved in aeronautical science and technology research. During this period, the university made several significant contributions to what would become known as China’s “Civil Aviation Industry.” Finally, after more than a decade of effort, NWPU joined hands with other key universities and research institutions in launching China’s first self-developed aircraft, “Hongqi-I I,” on December 14, 1956. In the meantime, students from NWPU performed well in various academic competitions, and research papers won first place at home and abroad.
In August 1958, chairman Mao Zedong visited Xi’an-Yanliang Airport. In his speech, he praised China’s Civil Aviation Industry as “the locomotive of our national economy.”
1970s – 1990s: “Eighth Route Army” of China’s Aviation History
During this period, NWPU researchers made major contributions to the development of Chinese aircraft. As a result, a number of new projects were implemented, including the Y-10 four-engine passenger plane and FB-1 medium-range bomber. In addition, at that time, NWPU worked closely with Xi’an Aircraft Company to develop the JH-7 “Eighth Route Bomber” and other aircraft. As a result, NWPU has been called China’s “Eighth Route Army in the field of aeronautics” for decades.
In 1978, Professor Liu Daifu, a key member of the FB-1 research team, was elected “Young and Middle-Aged Expert with Outstanding Contributions to China’s Civil Aviation Industry.” In 1980, NWPU joined hands with Xi’an Aircraft Industry Corporation to develop the Y-8D transport aircraft. And in 1984, NPU became the first Chinese university that successfully developed a small helicopter.
2000s: From a Locomotive into a High-speed Train
In the early 21st century, NWPU was selected as one of the universities for China’s “211” and “985” projects aimed at strengthening research in key national defense technology and nurturing top-notch universities. As a result, NWPU’s research and education have been greatly enhanced.
In 1998, the first research institute on aeronautics of China’s National Defense was established at NWPU under approval from the Central Military Commission of the PRC. In 2005, after eight years’ effort, NWPU successfully developed the third domestically made large aircraft, “Kunpeng,” a high-performance unmanned aerial vehicle that can meet requirements for both civil use and military application. Furthermore, in May 2008, China’s first homemade large helicopter Z8D was completed at Northwest Polytechnical University. Currently, this helicopter is being used for a variety of purposes in China.