NPU was originally established as the State Northwest Institute of Engineering in Hanzhong in 1938. The Institute was an amalgamation of Beiyang Institute of Engineering, the Engineering College of Peking University, the Engineering College of Northeast University and Jiaozuo Institute of Engineering. After eight years in Hanzhong, the Institute moved to Xianyang, and was renamed the Northwest Institute of Engineering in 1950.The Northwest Institute of Engineering moved to Xi'an in October 1957 where it merged with the Xi'an Institute of Aeronautics. The latter had been founded in 1952 as the East China Institute of Aeronautics amalgamating the Aeronautical Departments of Jiaotong University, Zhejiang University and Central University. In 1957 the Northwest Institute of Engineering was officially renamed Northwestern Polytechnical University. In 1970 the Department of Aeronautics of Harbin Institute of Engineering also amalgamated with NPU.
Located in the historic city of Xi'an, cradle of Chinese civilization and terminus of the ancient Silk Road, Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) is the only multidisciplinary and research-oriented in China that is simultaneously developing education and research programs in the fields of aeronautics, astronautics, and marine technology engineering. It is now affiliated to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC), NPU has always been one of the nation’s key universities. In 1960 it was approved as a state key university by the State Council. NPU is one of the first 22 universities to have established a graduate school. It was one of the first universities to enter into the 211 Project in 1995 and the 985 Project in 2001. NPU is a member of the "Outstanding University Alliance" program and is honored as a National Role Model Unit, a National Pioneer for Optimal Advanced Basic-level Party Organization and a Model University for Graduate Employment etc. NPU adheres to the motto " Loyalty，Integrity，Courage and Perseverance" while carrying forward the spirit of " Strong Preparation, Diligent Effort, Practical Attitude, and Creative Innovation". NPU written several “firsts” into the history of the PRC. Now NPU will continue to pioneer new pathways into the future in the process of building a world first-class university and world first-class disciplines.
As a key base for the cultivation of top-level talent thru research and innovation, NPU has been recognized as a “National Unit of Civilization” and awarded “the National Labor Medal”. Among its pioneering achievements are the first doctorates awarded in six academic disciplines, the first SUAV, ground effect vehicle, AUV and on-board spacecraft computer in China. NPU was one of the first universities to establish a graduate school and national university science park, and now hosts the Northwest Institute of Industrial Technology and China's top UAV Research and Development Base.
On the long march towards establishing a world first-class university and world first-class disciplines, NPU is drawing on its deep moral, intellectual and spiritual roots so that it can serve the major strategic needs of the country and foster China’s modernization and construction while promoting world scientific and technological progress. NPU will stick to this mission as it continues to reform and innovate, build its strength and strive for excellence. NPU thus aims to keep pushing back the frontiers of knowledge, opening new vistas of intellectual inquiry and turning inspiration into reality as it builds a world-class university with a global reputation in the field of aeronautics, astronautics, and marine technology engineering.