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École Polytechnique
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École Polytechnique

The École polytechnique (the "Polytechnic School"), often nicknamed X, is the foremost of the French Grandes Écoles of engineering. Initially located in the Quartier Latin in central Paris, it was moved to the suburb Palaiseau in 1976. It is the way of choice to reach the great technical corps of the State.

The École polytechnique is run under the supervision of the French ministry of defense. Though no longer a military academy, it is headed by a general, and employs military personnel in executive, administrative and sport training positions. Both male and female French polytechniciens (or "X"), as the undergraduate engineering students of the school are known, are reserve officer trainees and have to go through a period of military training before engineering studies proper. However, the military aspects of the school have lessened with time, with fewer and fewer students joining officer careers after leaving the school (aside for the engineers of the defense procurement agency), and the reduced duration of preliminary military training. On great occasions, such as the military parade on the Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day, the polytechniciens wear the 19th-century-style "great uniform," with the famous bicorne hat.

Its motto is Pour la Patrie, les Sciences et la Gloire—"For the Nation, Sciences and Glory."

Traditionally, a favored goal of the polytechniciens was to join the elite government bodies known as the grands corps techniques de l'État (X-Mines, X-Ponts), but nowadays many join PhD or master programs in French or foreign universities.

The École polytechnique has an undergraduate general engineering teaching curriculum as well as a graduate school. It has many research laboratories operating in various scientific fields (physics, mathematics, computer science, economics, chemistry, etc.), most operated in association with national scientific institutions such as Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. In addition to the faculty coming from those laboratories, it employs many researchers and professors from other institutions, creating a varied and high-level teaching environment.

The admission to École polytechnique is made through a selective entrance examination, and requires several years preparation in Classes Preparatoires such as the Lycee Louis-Le-Grand, the Lycee Janson-de-Sailly or the Prytanee Militaire de la Fleche.

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See also École Polytechnique de Montréal.