In realization of the need for training better quality technicians to meet the large scale industrialization of the country, the ministry of Human Resource Development (the then Ministry of Education), Government of India established four Regional Technical Teachers' Training Institutes (now National Institute of Technical Teachers Training & Research, NITTTR at Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai and Kolkata in 1967. The Institute at Chandigarh is one of these four NITTTRs, started in collaboration with Royal Netherlands Government (upto 1974). It was designed to meet the requirements of developing polytechnic education in the northern region covering the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh. The Institute is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and is managed by a Board of Governors.
The institute started with long term teachers' training programmes for polytechnic teachers in 1967 and was also entrusted with the responsibility of promoting curriculum development work for the states in the region. To improve the competence of teachers for implementing new curricula designed by this institute, short term courses have been offered since 1967. The institute established a Media Centre in 1981 for preparing print & non-print instructional materials.
The institute also set up the department of Rural Development and the department of Entrepreneurship Development to assist polytechnics in directing their efforts towards training manpower and disseminating information in these areas. The Educational Television and Computer Science departments were established in the year 1981and 1982 respectively. Since 1983, the institute has been guiding and assisting the states in the areas of Educational Planning and Management. Since 1992, the institute started offering Regular Master of Engineering Programmes in (i) Engineering Education and (ii) Manufacturing Technology. In the year 1994, two more courses namely Master of Engineering in Construction Technology and Management and Computer Science and Engineering were added. In the year 1998, two more Master of Engineering Programmes in Instrumentation and Control and Electronics and Communication Engineering were added, and, since 2005, the institute started offering Modular Master of Engineering Programmes in all the above disciplines. All these programmes, being offered for teachers of technical institutions and their administrators, professionals from industry and general candidates, are duly approved by AICTE and affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Since June 2001, this institute has been conducting short term courses in various subjects for faculty of Engineering Colleges in addition to organizing AICTE sponsored Induction Training Programmes.
The Mechanical Engineering Department started functioning in 1967. The institute had the collaboration of the Royal Dutch government. The collaborators offered expertise in Mechanical Engineering in the form of Dutch experts, equipment in different areas of Mechanical Engineering and foreign training to selected faculty. Professor G. J. Tonkes was the Chief Netherlands expert and also the expert for the Mechanical Engineering Department. The Department aims to provide quality technical education to the technical teachers and industry professionals in the form of doctoral & post graduate programmes and short term training programmes. The Department offers postgraduate programs leading to M.E. (Manufacturing Technology) and PhD degree and short-term courses in various advanced areas of mechanical engineering. The thrust areas of department include Manufacturing Technology, Computer Aided Design, Computer Aided Manufacturing, Mechatronics, Automation, Robotics, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Metrology and Material Testing. With the Institute becoming a NATIONAL INSTITUTE in 2002, the department has increasingly focused on post graduate education and doctoral research