Dear colleagues, dear students!
Let me warmly greet you all on the occasion of the opening of the new academic year 2021/2022 at the Technical University in Košice.
Dear freshmen and dear freshwomen, I am very pleased to welcome you to our University, whose roots go back to the ancient times of the second half of the eighteenth century, when the famous Mining Academy was founded in Banská Štiavnica in 1762. It was established by sovereign Maria Theresa as the first of its kind in the world. This important history and traditions of our ancestors bind us, stimulate, and motivate us. They have been a continuous source of a good start for the successful future of our University.
Dear young beginning colleagues. I believe that here at TUKE you will find a motivating environment for your further personal development, as well as for creating friendships and collegial relationships, from which you will be able to draw during your entire professional and personal life. I wish you a quick adaptation to a new environment, a lot of success in your studies and many unforgettable moments spent during your university life. Our teachers are ready to help you along the way.
TUKE enters the next academic year as a successful educational and research institution that enjoys high respect at home and abroad. Our quality is reported by independent external global and European ranking agencies. TUKE has been among the top four of the ranking of the best universities and colleges in Slovakia for a long time. Our composition of faculties and their mutual potential is admired by colleagues at home as well as abroad.
TUKE aims to be an international, interdisciplinary, and business institution with a clear concept of excellence in science, education, as well as the transfer of knowledge and technology, and thus to be able to offer comprehensive solutions and a committed approach. Please, let us take a look together at how we are trying to succeed in fulfilling and amplifying this goal.
Let us start with internationality. TUKE, as the only technical university from Slovakia, is part of the network of European universities within the ULYSSEUS alliance, which consists of 6 institutions from 6 European countries. Overall, the Alliance has more than 170,000 students, 87 faculties, over 8,000 academic employees and 1,000 research teams, 6 regional governments and 6 town halls, as well as business partners, which all in all means a great responsibility and presents an ambitious challenge.
Let us move forward with interdisciplinarity and technology transfer. Together with UPJŠ, UVLaF, SAS institutes, the city and the region, TUKE has become a member of the Cassovia New Industry Cluster (CNIC), thanks to which an investment worth over 320 million Euros should come to the region. The Cassovia New Industry Cluster is an association of legal entities from the public and private sectors, whose main goal is to create a new industry in the region of Eastern Slovakia on an interdisciplinary basis and thus significantly increase both its economic and social levels. TUKE has joined the newly established Innovation Center of the Košice Region.
TUKE has become the basis for hydrogen technology research and vehemently set to work. The result was not long in coming. At the beginning of August this year, the first hydrogen bus manufactured in Slovakia was already handed over. It is the result of cooperation between the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at TUKE and the limited company ROŠERO – P, s.r.o. from Spišská Nová Ves. What an amazing leap in real time. From TRL 3 to TRL 8 (Technology Readiness Level). I call this a real-time transfer. I thank the Dean of the Faculty, professor Živčák, professor Brestovič and his team, and last but not least, professor Sinay, coordinator of hydrogen technologies in the Slovak Republic, for this exceptional preparation for EXPO Dubai 2021, where our "hydrogen bus" will represent Slovakia.
And that we flirt with excellence is evidenced, among other things, by the following facts. In the previous academic year, we again won several awards, and now I am going to mention some of them. The first place in the prestigious competition of the international format Falling Walls Lab Slovakia 2020, Award for Science and Technology for 2020 in the category Personality of Science and Technology awarded by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. The absolute victory in the Student Personality of Slovakia competition, Scientist of the Year 2020 of the Slovak Republic in the category Personality of International Cooperation and several awards of the Literary Fund are much valued, too. The TUKE Startup Centre, which operates within the University Technicom Science Park, fulfills its mission perfectly. It helps to turn innovative ideas into commercially usable products or services. The startups from the TUKE Startup Centre were the most successful at the Slovak University Startup Cup for the third year in a row, when they won in two categories of this competition. The Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic awarded TUKE with the Ján Bahýľ Award and the Inventive Activity Award for a beneficial technical solution during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Science and Technology Week in Slovakia, the TUKE Rector's Awards were bestowed in four categories and the best doctoral theses were awarded.
A starting project funded by the Visegrad Fund entitled "Measuring University Excellence in the V4 Region – Eliminating Invisibility and Gaining Recognition", coordinated by Óbuda University and of which we are a member, should also contribute to increasing the self-confidence of our institutions.
Dear colleagues, let me take this space to thank all of you: all the staff, teachers, and students for your dedication, patience, and responsibility during the ongoing period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for having successfully managed this difficult situation and I am convinced that we will continue to manage it from now on. I highly appreciate the activities of the faculties and workplaces that developed the series of, at this time, so much-needed devices and aids and developed special service offers for critical periods. Thank you for the enormous energy that online processes have required from both teachers and students alike. Thank you that in this pandemic period, we have been able to transform problems into new opportunities and challenges.
In the previous academic year, we paid considerable attention and efforts to the creation of an internal quality assurance system for education at TUKE in accordance with the standards adopted by the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education. New bodies were constituted, such as the Accreditation Board and the TUKE Accreditation Commission, while Study Program Councils were established at the level of individual study programs. A feasibility study on the integration of research universities in the city of Košice was being prepared.
The University places great emphasis on improving quality in all its activities, especially in research and education. We are among the universities with the lowest unemployment rate of graduates. Our graduates have been achieving high success in the labour market. However, we do not forget the social aspect either. We have a kindergarten and nursery on the grounds of TUKE and we are dedicated to sports and culture.
Dear members of the academic community, dear students, all the achievements that I have had the opportunity to present result from the responsible work and efforts for continuous improvement of you, the staff and students of our University, to whom my sincere thanks are due. I would like to thank the members of the TUKE management, faculty deans and faculty management as well as all the members of the academic community of our University for all the work carried out in the previous academic year. I express my deep respect to all the supporters and fans of our University. We appreciate the cooperation with other universities at home and abroad, with the Slovak Academy of Sciences institutes as well as with the industrial sphere.
Finally, let me wish you all good health, determination and creative inventiveness, and much personal and professional success. And above all, a lot of life optimism, because everything is better with a smile.
Dr.h.c. prof.h.c. prof. Ing. Stanislav Kmeť, DrSc.