FUTO was founded in 1980. It later merged with Alvan Ikoku College of Education Owerri, absorbing the latter's students. The university is one of the premier technological universities in western Africa. Its student body comprises people from all over west Africa and beyond. It is the only federal university of technology in the South-East of Nigeria and one of the oldest in West Africa.
The University is known for its technologically strong graduates, evidenced by the large number its alumni currently in oil and gas companies in Nigeria. The largest percentage of engineers in most oil companies in Nigeria are FUTO alumni.