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The Warsaw Voice » Other » July 9, 2008
Education
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Cracow University of Technology: Sure Path to a Career
July 9, 2008   
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Employers are eager to snap up students from the Cracow University of Technology, which has seen 55,000 graduates pass through its gates over the years.

The Cracow University of Technology is a relatively young institution, established soon after World War II. Using the experience and academic staff of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, founded in 1919, the Polish government of the time established the first engineering departments. The elite Architecture Department was based at the Royal Castle on Wawel Hill in Cracow.

The university's official founding date is July 21, 1954, and it is named after Tadeusz Ko¶ciuszko, the Polish and American general who took part in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and started an anti-Russian insurrection in Poland. Not everyone knows he was also an engineer; he studied in France and made use of his knowledge in the United States. Ko¶ciuszko designed fortifications in Philadelphia and an original chain of forts at West Point.

The Cracow University of Technology teaches 15,000 full-time and part-time students and another 1,500 on postgraduate and specialist courses. There were 4,120 first-year students in the 2007/2008 academic year. The university employs over 2,000 staff, including 1,155 academics, among them 82 professors.

The year 2006 saw the completion of a project by the Institute of Economics, Sociology and Philosophy and the Careers Bureau of the Cracow University of Technology to find out what happened to 787 of 1,272 graduates of all the departments immediately after graduation. Within six months, 88 percent of graduates had found full-time jobs, more of them with multinational companies than domestic ones. Foreign employers were particularly interested in graduates in fields such as automation, robotics, information technology, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering. Architects had no problem finding jobs in Britain because the Architecture Department enjoys international accreditation from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Many graduates decided to set up their own business, most often in construction, information technology, transport and trade. Participants in last year's First Steps on the Labor Market conference, which also featured guests from technology universities in Spain, Britain and the Netherlands, heard that in terms of hiring graduates for managerial or specialist positions at leading companies around Poland, the Cracow University of Technology is among the top 10 universities in Poland.

The university is a young institution and so are its academic staff. In 2006 alone, 63 people obtained a doctorate, and seven a postdoctoral degree. The same number received the title of professor.

Following the signing of the Bologna Charter, collaboration with other universities, including those in other countries, has intensified. Students benefit from this. Thanks to the Socrates and CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Program for University Studies) programs, 231 people left Poland to continue their studies at other universities. The Cracow University of Technology currently has 294 foreign students plus another seven foreigners working on their Ph.D. Collaboration is especially successful with France, Germany, Hungary, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, the United States, and even Australia. Contacts with South American countries, India and Muslim countries are also developing.

For many years collaboration was based mainly on the personal contacts of the university's academics. Now it is founded chiefly on bilateral international agreements-60 have been signed to date and more are in the pipeline. The university also works with Polish schools; in Cracow-with Jagiellonian University, the Collegium Medicum of the Jagiellonian University, the AGH University of Science and Technology, the Agricultural University of Cracow, the Academy of Fine Arts, and, in some fields, with the Academy of Economics recently renamed the Cracow University of Economics. There are also joint scientific and economic projects with the local governments of Cracow and other cities in the Małopolska region.

"We have always done our best to make sure our research results aren't shelved but are put to use in the economy," says the university's rector, Prof. Józef Gawlik. "In terms of the number of such implemented projects, the Cracow University of Technology ranks high among Polish universities."

The university's scientists conduct research on renewable energy, synthetic materials, and oil and gas processing technologies. They also pursue research in areas such as metrology and medical engineering. They are currently working to develop new materials for use in cranial surgery and implants. They are also busy conducting studies linked to the ongoing construction of Warsaw's metro.

Collaboration between scientists from the Cracow University of Technology and researchers abroad covers a wide range of topics. In recent years, scientists from the Civil Engineering Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Transportation Systems Center studied residual stresses in tracks and wheels. With a consortium of research centers from Norway, they worked on a program of implementing changes in the European Railway System, and with another consortium from Britain they analyzed the impact of vehicles on the costs of infrastructure maintenance in a specified environment.

One of the international programs carried out by this department has become more widely known. Caravel, a project with the motto "Traveling Towards a New Mobility," is about making transportation more human-friendly. Apart from the university, where the research team leader is Prof. Andrzej Rudnicki, the project-which has received EU funding-involves the Cracow City Office and the Municipal Transportation Enterprise (MPK). Other cities implementing this project are Genoa in Italy, Burgos in Spain, and Stuttgart in Germany.

The university's scientists are also involved in other projects linked to the environment. For instance, a project carried out by scientists from the Chemical Engineering and Technology Department in association with the Institute for Sorption and Problems of Endoecology of Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences. "Mechanochemical processes as a green synthesis of nanostructural sorbents and catalysts for environmental protection" is a project for removing environmentally hazardous solvents from chemical processes. The coordinator on behalf of the university is Prof. Krystyna Wieczorek-Ciurowa from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology.

A recent success is worth mentioning: two projects were chosen among the winners in a competition announced by the European Commission in the EU's 7th Framework Program. The first, concerning support for disseminating and implementing results obtained in research projects involving small and medium-sized enterprises, will be carried out over 30 months by a consortium of institutions and companies from Poland, Britain, the Czech Republic, Spain, Cyprus, and Germany.

The second project, for identifying the priority research topics for small and medium-sized enterprises in the construction sector, with a special focus on advanced technology in the fields of energy, information technology and communications and new materials, will last 24 months and involve partners from Italy, Britain, Spain, and Germany.

Academics from the Cracow University of Technology can be found at the most renowned research centers around the world. Especially worth noting is the Mechanics Department, which has been collaborating for 17 years with the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, one of the most prestigious scientific organizations worldwide. The department heads have also signed an agreement with a respected center of heavy ion research in Darmstadt, Germany, which has opened the way to participation in an international project called FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research). This is becoming the second-largest project involving particle accelerator construction after the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) carried out at CERN.

The Mechanics Department has applied to take part in two other projects involving nuclear research-Wendelstein 7-X in Greifswald, and XFEL in Hamburg (European X-Ray Laser Project). It has also submitted two large interdisciplinary projects as part of the EU's 7th Framework Program. These involve research on applying advanced materials in aviation technology and building an instrument for studying neutrino beams.

Contacts between scientists, maintained over many years, play a huge role in implementing research projects. One example is Prof. Piotr Kulczycki, a mathematician specializing in automation and robotics as well as system theory, who has been collaborating for 10 years with Prof. Rafael Wisniewski from Aalborg University in Denmark on control engineering problems. Their joint work has yielded nine publications in high-ranking scientific journals such as IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. Kulczycki has also long collaborated with Prof. L. T. Koczy from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary and Prof. Radko Masiar from the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, resulting in applications in areas such as engineering and medicine.

The Center for Technology Transfer (CTT) plays a special role in the development of cooperation between the university and foreign research units. It's no secret that contemporary research requires serious outlays, and the world's largest source of funding today is the EU's framework programs. EU countries have set themselves the goal of ensuring a competitive edge for the European economy with respect, for example, to the U.S. economy. This goal can only be achieved by consolidating the research and technological base for industry.

The current 7th Framework Program has been planned for 2007-2013. It has a total budget of more than 50 billion euros. It is no wonder then that scientists from the Cracow University of Technology, whose work is closely tied to the economy, want to get a piece of this pie. That's where the CTT comes in. The EU wants the money from framework programs to flow almost exclusively to research teams, so the CTT seeks out partners for cooperation. One form of its work involves helping draw up applications for projects (proposal profiles) which are then placed on the CORDIS website containing information on all EU projects. From funds obtained from the EU, the CTT also finances Polish scientists' foreign research trips.

Among various methods of matching up research units, the CTT also uses a very traditional means-publishing a catalogue of proposals. This is distributed at numerous trade events and sent to the representative office of the Małopolska region in Brussels.

The Cracow University of Technology's international collaboration in research involves both professors with extensive experience and foreign contacts and young academics, and even students. The latter take advantage of the university's many agreements with different universities around the world as well as the Socrates program. Such students include Łukasz Adamus from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who wrote his master's thesis on the radial forces acting on the rotor of an asynchronous machine in dynamic states at the Technical University of Dortmund in 2006. Paweł Maciejasz and Andrzej Soba¶ from the same department worked on their master's theses in Switzerland last year. This was possible thanks to an agreement signed between their university and the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland in Fribourg, coordinated by Prof. Tadeusz J. Sobczyk from the Institute of Electromechanical Energy Conversion.

The role researchers from the Cracow University of Technology play in numerous international academic groups is worth highlighting. Many professors from the university hold top-ranking posts in them. Testifying to their academic status in Europe and around the world are the international conferences and symposia organized by the university.

Last year the university hosted the 9th International Conference on Frontiers of Polymers and Advanced Materials, held in Poland for the second time thanks to Prof. Jan Pielichowski. Thanks to the efforts of Prof. Tadeusz Sobczyk, in 2007 the Cracow University of Technology was the venue for the sixth IEEE International Symposium on Diagnostics for Electric Machines, Power Electronics and Drives.

Teresa Betkowska and Lesław Peters
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