The California Institute of Technology or Caltech is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Although founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G. Throop in 1891, the college attracted influential scientists such as George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan in the early 20th century. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910, and the college assumed its present name in 1921. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities, and the antecedents of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán. The university is one among a small group of Institutes of Technology in the United States which tends to be primarily devoted to the instruction of technical arts and applied sciences.
Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphasis on science and engineering, managing $332 million in 2011 in sponsored research. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. First-year students are required to live on campus, and 95% of undergraduates remain in the on-campus house system. Although Caltech has a strong tradition of practical jokes and pranks, student life is governed by an honor code which allows faculty to assign take-home examinations.
Caltech is frequently cited as one of the world’s best universities. Despite its small size, 33 Caltech alumni and faculty have won a total of 34 Nobel Prizes (Linus Pauling being the only individual in history to win two unshared prizes) and 71 have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology. There are 112 faculty members who have been elected to the National Academies. In addition, numerous faculty members are associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as NASA.
For the Class of 2018 (enrolled fall 2014), Caltech received 6,524 applications and accepted 529 (8.1%). In 2013, the number enrolling was 249; the yield rate (the percentage of accepted students who enroll) was 43%. Of the 31% of entering freshmen who submitted class rank, 98% were in the top 10% of their high school classes; 100% ranked in the top quarter. The middle 50% range of SAT scores for enrolled freshmen were 720-780 for critical reading, 770-800 for math, and 730-800 for writing. The middle 50% range ACT Composite score was 33-35.
Over the years Caltech has actively promoted the commercialization of technologies developed within its walls. Through its Office of Technology Transfer & Corporate Partnerships, scientific breakthroughs have led to the transfer of numerous technologies in a wide variety of scientific-related fields such as photovoltaic, radio-frequency identification (RFID), semiconductors, hyperspectral imaging, electronic devices, protein design, solid state amplifiers, and many more. Companies such as Contour Energy Systems, Impinj, Fulcrum Microsystems, Nanosys, Inc., Photon etc., Xencor, and Wavestream Wireless have emerged from Caltech.