The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - January 26, 2012
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From the Publisher
   
Whenever I read about Polish universities I’m amazed to see just how little we know about them. In most cases, all we know is that they train students and pursue some kind of research, largely enigmatic to the general public. Moreover, we tend to underestimate and criticize them for ranking low in international league tables. Critics also highlight what they believe are the universities’ poor ties with business and research centers abroad. Another stereotype is that all Polish universities suffer from a shortage of money, report unimpressive research results and secure few patents. In short, the overall picture of Poland’s higher education system is pretty depressing.

But the reality is different—in fact quite astonishing.

In this special issue of The Polish Science Voice, we want our readers to learn something about the Military University of Technology (WAT) in Warsaw, a unique institution, more than 60 years old and once predominantly reflecting its military origins. Today these roots continue to inform the university’s work and identity. In the past, WAT’s graduates and researchers were expected to serve in the armed forces. Both the teachers and the students wore uniforms. Today the university is dominated by civilians and has many women among both the teaching staff and students. And its research is mixed in nature—it serves both military and civilian purposes.

I’m especially amazed by WAT’s record in two areas—its ability to scale new heights in technology and the fact that the university is managed like a business. “We are the only state-run university in Poland whose budget is nearly 60 percent made up of funds generated by our own research teams,” says Brig. Gen. Prof. Zygmunt Mierczyk, rector of the Military University of Technology. He adds, “We pride ourselves on working with over 400 partners from industry.” Importantly, these include both domestic and foreign partners. Moreover, WAT is known for its spinoff and spinout companies and has 167 national and 43 foreign patents to its name.