École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne was founded in 1853 under the name École spéciale de Lausanne, and at that time, it had only a dozen students – as opposed to nearly 10,000 today! At the end of 1876, several alumni made plans to establish an association that would enable those who studied thereto keep in touch. They wrote articles of association that they then sent to all former students for consultation. A constituent assembly met in 1877 during which the Friendly Association of Alumni of the École Spéciale de Lausanne was created.It was open to all graduates of the School against the payment of an annual fee. In 1882, it was named the Friendly Alumni Association of the Technical School of Lausanne and, in 1928, the Friendly Alumni Association of the College of Engineering at the University of Lausanne.
In 1946, the École Spéciale de Lausanne became a university and was renamed the École Polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne (EPUL). It moved into the Savoy Hotel on the Avenue de Cour in Lausanne. The Alumni Association was also changing, and in 1948, it took on the name, The Alumni Association of the École polytechnique de l’Université de Lausanne. Its goals then were as follows: “Uniting for cordial relations alumni of successive years, ensuring that graduates support their older peers and involve its members in the development of the School.” At that time, the association had 1,000 members, including 800 in Switzerland, and it published a directory that provides information on former students of the school. It included a Swiss association based in Lausanne and foreign associations, which were, in 1952, the French, Belgium-Luxembourg, Italian and Portuguese Associations. Within Switzerland, there was a section based in eastern Switzerland in Baden and another in Winterthur.
In 1992, the association changed its name to A3E2PLfor: Friendly Alumni Association of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and in 2002, the General Assembly decided to simplify the name to A3 EPFL, a name the association kept for over 10 years. During this period,the number of EPFL students and graduates steadily increased, and the paper directory disappeared in favor of an electronic version. On the other hand, the rise of information technology and social networks facilitated relationships between graduates that, in 2009, surpassed 20,000. The number of members at that time amounted to about 5,000, and a small office staff was established to manage this increasingly extensive community.
EPFL grew in 2012, and it now leads in international rankings. It hosts nearly 10,000 students from 110 nationalities. In this context a new committee was elected earlier this year. After a period of reflection, they concluded that if the alumni community – 27,000 strong across the globe – wants to continue to receive professional services and maintain a strong link with EPFL, it must professionalize and move closer to the school to ensure its sustainability. The committee held an Extraordinary General Meeting on January 28, 2014, during which the 50 members present and 2810 who voted by mail accepted the dissolution of the association by a vote of more than 95%. Since EPFL was interested in keeping a strong bond with its graduates, it has created a service that hosts the staff of A3’s central office.