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Elite Technical University for Military and Civilians
January 26, 2012   
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Despite its name, the Military University of Technology has more civilians attending courses than students in uniform as it marks its 60th year in service. The same is true of the university’s teaching faculty: teachers in uniform account for just 15 percent of the total.

Many of the university’s research findings have been applied for civilian purposes; not everything is subject to military secrecy. In many areas of its activity, WAT is like any other university of technology; it can even be compared to a self-financing business. Despite this WAT remains a one-of-a-kind university in Poland, a status reflected by the university’s high ratings in league tables in terms of potential for applying research results in practice, an ability to raise funds, and collaboration with industry.

Research conducted at the university is aimed at being applied in the economy. While the defense industry is the main recipient of innovative technology developed by WAT, the university’s researchers have set out to find dual, and often multiple, uses for the results of their research outside the defense sector: in areas such as medicine, construction, geology, and even culture.

It all started with the need to provide an education to officers. The university trained commanding officers and prepared them for service in the armed forces. The Military University of Technology began its statutory activities in 1951. The first students were chiefly recruited at the Gdańsk University of Technology and the Warsaw University of Technology. When international tension subsided in the late 1950s, demand for military engineers trained at the Military University of Technology decreased. In 1959, the university was reorganized; an organizational structure based on departments was created.

Today the university provides bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programs. Students are trained in over 50 specialties in 14 fields: construction, national security, energy, chemicals, electronics and telecommunications, surveying and cartography, computer science, materials engineering, security engineering, logistics, aerospace, mechanical engineering, mechatronics, and management.

The university has six faculties: Cybernetics, Electronics, Civil Engineering and Surveying, New Technologies and Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, and Mechatronics and Aviation. The university also includes the Institute of Optoelectronics, which serves as a technology transfer center. The university’s Schools of Foreign Languages, Physical Education and Military Training provide training in foreign languages and physical education as well as military training.

Provider of generals and NATO experts
A total of 79 professors, 83 postdocs and 383 researchers with doctoral degrees conduct research, implementation and modernization work in the field of technical, chemical, physical, economic and military sciences. The university has produced over 1,600 PhDs and postdoctoral academics. A total of 47 graduates went on to become generals in the Polish armed forces. More than 100 university employees have become professors and three of them are members of the Polish Academy of Sciences. WAT works with various research and educational institutions, including institutes run by the Polish Academy of Sciences, industrial institutes and manufacturing companies. Internationally, the Military University of Technology is a training ground for experts for NATO and the European Defence Agency, which help finance many of the university’s projects.

The university’s scientists are working on projects including modern radar and command systems, optoelectronic battlefield support systems, and fire control systems. They also work to modernize weaponry such as the NEWA anti-aircraft missile system (equivalent to the U.S. Patriot system) and radar detection systems. The results of research conducted at the university are used in disciplines that seemingly have little in common with defense, such as medicine, where the university’s scientists are working to upgrade methods for diagnosing and treating cancer.

WAT’s top exports are its infrared detectors, which are successfully exported to the United States, in addition to laser technology, new materials including liquid crystals, hydrogen cells and IT systems developed for companies and NATO agencies. The university has agreements with many countries on the practical application of its research results.

The Military University of Technology pursues international student exchange programs including European programs such as LLP Erasmus and the scholarship program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well as standard exchanges conducted on the basis of agreements with universities around the world. The European Credit Transfer System allows WAT students to study at both domestic and foreign universities alternately.

All the university departments, buildings and infrastructure, including service, sports and cultural facilities, are available on one campus in Warsaw, facilitating the establishment of direct contacts by students from different institutes and departments.

At the end of 2011, WAT joined the Academic Business Incubator network. By supporting innovative business projects, the university creates conditions for the development of entrepreneurship among students, graduates and employees. The business incubator helps young and active people with original ideas to start a business of their own.

WAT is known for its spinoff and spinout companies. For its achievements in scientific research, the university has won a number of state awards as well as prizes and honors from the Defense Ministry and the Polish Academy of Sciences, in addition to 167 national patents and 43 foreign patents. The university’s researchers have authored a total of 20,000 scientific publications and more than 200 books.
Karolina Olszewska
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