The College of Engineering, Trivandrum was established in 1939 as the first Engineering College in the then Travancore State. The first classes were started on 3rd July 1939 during the reign of the Travancore King, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and as the head of the then Travancore state he deserves his share of credit in the establishment of the college. Initially the College was housed in the former office and bungalow of the Chief Engineer (present PMG Office). Maj T.H. Mathewman, a Britisher was the first Principal. Started as a constituent College of Travancore University, the College had an initial intake of 21 students each for Degree and Diploma courses in Civil, Mechanical and Electrical branches. With the establishment of the Directorate of Technical Education in the late fifties, the College administration came under the control of the Government of Kerala. The College was shifted to the present sprawling 125 acres in 1960.
Over the years, the intake of students increased and as of now with eight full-fledged departments offering eight undergraduate, 19 postgraduate and doctoral programmes under the University of Kerala, the College has around 3500 students, 285 teaching staff and 290 non-teaching staff. B.Tech, B.Arch, M.Tech, M.Plan, MCA and MBA and evening courses are also offered by the College.
Ever since the inception, the College has maintained its eminence as a leading Engineering College in India. According to a study sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, government of India, in the early ninties, College of Engineering, Trivandrum was among the top ten Engineering Colleges in India. The College ranks among the top in the country in the quality of its graduates and the number of top jobs held by its graduates. With such an eminence in the academic and curricular activities, the College is the most sought after Engineering College by the applicants of Engineering degree programmes in the state.