Fondly known to local people in Saint-Étienne as the "Great Lady of Cours Fauriel" (Grande Dame du Cours Fauriel), the Ecole des Mines engineering school was created by Louis-Antoine Beaunier, a hyperactive entrepreneur if ever there was one! Among other things, he built the first railway in France, between Saint-Étienne and Andrézieux (1827).

Many great names have emerged from the Ecole des Mines since it opened: Fourneyron (father of hydroelectricity), Boussingault (father of agrichemicals), Fayol (father of business management), Jean-Baptiste Marsaut (inventor of the miner's safety lamp, the Marsaut lamp), and several international political figures. The historic site of the Ecole des Mines dates from 1927, with its three neoclassical style buildings; the Rotonde was added in the 70s. Somewhat by chance, this place dedicated to popularising science has become an institution in its own right within the School, and the public can still come in to take part in workshops or attend talks on a variety of subjects. The Ecole des Mines has also renewed its educational methods and has now become an incubator for start-ups! Students have the possibility of launching a professional project based on their research subject even before they graduate. It certainly shakes things up when innovation changes its look!

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