The history of the Institute of Geodesy at the University of Stuttgart dates back to 1863 when the mathematician Prof. Dr. C. W. von Baur taught “Höhere Geodäsie” (Higher Geodesy) for the first time. In 1865, his assistant Dr. Hugo von Schoder was the first to be appointed professor of Geodesy at the Polytechnical School of Stuttgart.
In 1884, the 26 year old Ernst Hammer from Ludwigsburg was appointed professor of Geodesy. He achieved an international reputation due to his scientific work. Six years later, in 1890, the “Königlich Württembergisches Polytechnikum” (Royal Polytechnical School of Württemberg) was renamed into “Königlich Württembergische Technische Hochschule” (Royal Technical College of Württemberg). In 1897, Geodesy was established as an independent field of study. At the turn of the century, the privilege was assigned to bestow the academic titles “Dipl.-Ing.” and “Dr.-Ing.” (Ph. D.).
After 1949, Prof. Dr. Karl Ramsayer enlarged the institute considerably. In April 1957, a new observation tower was officially opened on the hillside of the Stuttgart valley. Since 1972, the Institutes of Geodesy and Geophysics of the Universities of Stuttgart and Karlsruhe operate the geoscientific Black Forest Observatory in Schiltach/Schwarzwald.
In 1980, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Erik W. Grafarend became head of institute. Since 1991, Prof. Dr. sc. techn. Wolfgang Keller holds the chair of “Physical Geodesy and Satellite Geodesy”. From 2001 to 2012, Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Detlef Wolf joined the institute on leave at Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (chair of “System Theory and Modelling”)
In 2005, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Nico Sneeuw was appointed head of institute in succession of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Erik W. Grafarend.
Today, the Institute of Geodesy is one of four institutes representing and operating the German bachelor and master courses “Geodesy & Geoinformatics” as well as the international master course “Geomatics Engineering (GEOENGINE)”.