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The Warsaw Voice » Other » June 17, 2009
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Academic Powerhouse
June 17, 2009   
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The Gdańsk University of Technology has 1,200 teachers and more than 20,000 students in nine faculties providing a total of 27 undergraduate and graduate courses, both full and part-time. The university's students can obtain master's and Ph.D. degrees and enroll in postgraduate and MBA courses.

The Gdańsk University of Technology is a leading provider of higher education in Poland in areas such as electronics, telecommunications, information technology, electrical and control engineering, chemistry, and civil and environmental engineering.

The university is 100 years old and has contributed substantially to the country's technological progress over the past century. The university boasts a long list of achievements in both education and research, including patents and technological implementations in fields such as pharmacy, environmental protection, electronics, telecommunications, automatics, sound engineering, and medical engineering.

The university has close ties with many large companies and science and technology parks across the country.

Tradition and innovation
For decades, the Gdańsk University of Technology has been inseparably linked with the maritime sector, especially shipyards and seaports.

"Today the shipbuilding industry has fallen on hard times, but we are still involved in projects concerned with transportation, maritime management, seaports and hydroengineering," says the university's rector, Prof. Henryk Krawczyk.

According to the school's spokeswoman Katarzyna Żelazek, the Gdańsk University of Technology combines tradition with innovation, which is exemplified by its TASK Academic Computer Center based on modern technology.

The Gdańsk University of Technology hosts many Polish and international conferences, symposiums and seminars. The university works with more than 80 partners abroad and a large number of research and development centers. The university's researchers give lectures and spend time at institutions of higher education around the world. Many of the university's graduates are successful scientists and hold managerial posts at research facilities all across Europe as well as in Asia, Australia and the Americas.

The Gdańsk University of Technology works with many institutions of higher education, science and technology parks, and business organizations. The university's partners include the Pomerania Development Agency, the Pomeranian Council of Enterprise, the Pomerania Special Economic Zone, the Pomerania Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the International Gdańsk Fair.

"In today's world, in a time of financial crisis, what counts most is knowledge combined with skills," says Krawczyk. "This is exactly what we consider our greatest strength. Together with innovative businesses we can create products that are sought-after on the market." One of the university's latest projects is its Center for Knowledge and Enterprise.

In sync with business
In 2001 the university launched its Politechniczny Klub Biznesu+ business club linked with the Association of Graduates of the Gdańsk University of Technology. The club brings together 46 entrepreneurs and managers in Pomerania province who have succeeded in business, run their own businesses or are senior executives at large companies. The club's member companies give jobs to thousands of people and their combined annual revenue exceeds zl.1 billion. Politechniczny Klub Biznesu+ also includes Gdańsk University of Technology graduates who stimulate the university's contacts with industry. They promote the transfer of technology, oversee the implementation of research results, help improve the syllabus, sponsor grants, and provide students with internships.

Research highlights
A biomedical engineering team led by Prof. Antoni Nowakowski at the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics has built an innovative thermal tomography scanner that has revolutionized diagnostics for patients with burns. The scanner can also be used to determine the size of tumors.

The Faculty of Chemistry boasts a number of discoveries and project implementations in pharmacology. The faculty developed Poland's first anti-osteoporosis medication called Ostemax 70 Comfort, which is more efficient, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than previously used medicines. It was developed by experts from the Polpharma company and a team headed by Prof. Janusz Rachoń, a former rector of the Gdańsk University of Technology.

Prof. Ryszard Andruszkiewicz is one of the researchers who worked on the Liryca drug produced by Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical corporation. Liryca is an anticonvulsant and tranquilizer used in the treatment of fibromyalgia, a condition that until recently was untreatable. Time magazine named Lyrica one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2007.

The Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics has developed telemedicine, a branch of technology that employs the internet to diagnose hearing, visual and speech impairments. The faculty has also designed an artificial larynx for patients who have had their larynx removed. A digital signal processor used in the artificial larynx radically improves the quality of sound produced by the device.

One of the faculty's most remarkable inventions is the Ustomysz (Mouth Mouse) Computer Multimedia Interface, a system designed for those who, due to paralysis and other disorders, are unable to use the computer in the traditional way. The interface enables such users to control a computer with head movements and facial expressions. It is the only such device in the world.

Prof. Zdzisław Kowalczyk has won an award from the Foundation for Polish Science for his research in automation systems. The award is dubbed the Polish Nobel Prize.

Past, present and future
Not long after World War II, graduates of the Gdańsk University of Technology who worked at the Gdańsk Shipyard helped build Poland's first coal and ore freighter ship SS Sołdek. The constructors included veteran shipbuilder Prof. Jerzy Doerffer. Today the SS Sołdek is a museum ship, while the traditions of the Faculty of Shipbuilding live on in the Faculty of Ocean Engineering and Ship Technology, which has helped design remotely controlled vehicles for NATO. These vehicles are used for detecting and destroying naval mines.

The Faculty of Ocean Engineering and Ship Technology has also carried out a comprehensive research project involving a new sea transportation system for the Baltic Sea, comprising new types of seagoing and river ships, docks and infrastructure.

In another project, Gdańsk University of Technology graduate Ryszard Wojdak has helped design the supporting structure of the Catholic basilica complex in Licheń in central Poland. The complex, with a surface area of more than 11,000 square meters, is the largest shrine in Poland, the seventh largest in Europe, and the 11th largest in the world.

Wojdak defended a doctoral dissertation at the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering entitled The Supporting Structure of the Licheń Basilica Dome.

Other projects carried out by the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering have included the construction, enlargement and maintenance of seaport and shipyard infrastructure in Gdańsk, Gdynia and Szczecin, including dry docks in Gdynia, and container and trans-shipment bases and other facilities at Port Północny. The faculty has also patented a method to assemble large underwater pipelines.

Asked about university's plans for the future, Krawczyk says, "We like challenges and have been working hard to build new, magnificent laboratories."

Krawczyk wants to reform the way in which the university is organized. Plans call for further investment, renovation and the development of a wireless computer network covering the whole campus combined with a new e-learning complex.

Adam Grzybowski

Prewar Talent
The Gdańsk University of Technology has a long tradition dating back to the days when Witold Jan Urbanowicz, a graduate of the German Higher School of Technology designed Poland's freight carriers for two companies that the Polish government established in 1926: Żegluga Polska SA (Polish Shipping Company) and Polsko-Brytyjskie Towarzystwo Okrętowe SA Polbryt (Polish-British Shipping Company). Ships designed by Urbanowicz included the passenger and freight motor ship Warszawa II.

Alfons Hoffmann, who graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering before World War II, designed an Electrical Power System for the Pomerania region.

Another prewar graduate, Stanisław Hückel, designed the fishing ports in Władysławowo, Jastarnia and Puck and bank reinforcements along the Baltic coast. Hückel was the rector of the Gdańsk University of Technology in 1954-1956.

Family Affair
"The Gdańsk University of Technology is like a family business," says Prof. Antoni Nowakowski from the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics. "My three uncles studied at the university before the war. Uncle Tadeusz majored in hydrotechnology, while Zbigniew, who studied architecture, and Bogdan, who studied aviation, were among the Polish students who were relegated from the university after the war broke out in 1939. They completed their studies in Britain."

70,000 Graduates
Established a century ago, the Gdańsk University of Technology has produced an impressive 70,000 graduates in exact, natural and technological sciences. Many of these people have decided to work abroad.
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