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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 30, 2009
Education
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Practical Experience
September 30, 2009   
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Marek Kluszczyński, chancellor and founder of the Higher School of Mechatronics (WSM) in Katowice, president of KSK Kompleksowe Systemy Komputerowe:

The Higher School of Mechatronics is the latest project by KSK, a company that I set up in 1989 and that has developed into a group of specialist companies working for the IT sector over the past 20 years. Besides KSK, today the KSK Group includes KSK Dystrybucja, a company running a Sony Centre showroom chain in the region and offering advanced IT solutions for image, graphics and sound processing from brands such as Sony, Pinnacle, Avid and Wacom; and KSK Bezpieczeństwo, a company offering services in information processing security, quality system implementation and auditing as well as training. In 2005, the group was joined by the Higher School of Mechatronics. The group's companies offer comprehensive services in advanced projects involving network systems and automatic control engineering, IT, business and sociological training, IT/business, security and information management consulting, and training of mechatronics and IT engineers.

The mechatronics school is the youngest member of the group. The decision to establish it was based on two major considerations. First of all, working with clients from the sector, I came to realize that the engineers' education was incompatible with the latest developments in the field of new technologies. Technical universities and research centers were still divided into traditional sections: electronics, mechanical engineering, automation, and computer science. In practice, any advanced technical device included all these systems working together. Paradoxically, a team of specialists had to be summoned to service a single small device. There was a need to train interdisciplinary engineers. I found out that several centers around the world were already offering this kind of teaching process. That information was the second factor; I decided that a large conurbation such as Katowice deserved a specialist technical school of higher learning that would train students according to standards followed in countries such as Japan and Germany. All technical universities in Poland taught courses according to specializations defined many years before, but after a graduate got a job it turned out that they had to be taught computer science or mechanical engineering. That's how industrial practice, or just life, showed us what kind of training a good engineer should get. But, nobody in Poland provided that kind of training. We decided to do it ourselves.

Of course, we don't think of the Silesian University of Technology as competition. We prefer to cooperate, but we do think there is a sizable niche for more practical education. I myself graduated from the Silesian University of Technology and I remember the huge amounts of theory I had to cram into my brain. We knew how to derive any mathematical formula and describe a host of physical phenomena through equations, but later the everyday tasks of an engineer in industry were completely different. I know many companies in Silesia and work with them, so I really do know what goes on in industry. That's why I think that by training engineers in more practical ways we are preparing them better for the demands of the labor market. A lot is changing at public universities as well, but changes at giant schools take place at their own pace. We believe that today we can train engineers who are well prepared in practical terms to deal with new technologies available on the market. Because the EU's Bologna Process provides for two-level university courses, our graduates interested in expanding their theoretical knowledge can take a second-level course at the Silesian University of Technology or the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, which now offer mechatronics courses. Graduates can also continue their education in different courses such as computer science or electronics. I think this is a very logical system, optimally adapted to the requirements of today's industry and labor market. The focus on the practical side of engineering in WSM's teaching strategy has the added aspect of helping graduates set up and run their own manufacturing and service businesses.
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