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University History

Brief history of the Czech Technical University

reskriptEngineering education has a long tradition in the Czech lands. One of its founders, Christian Joseph Willenberg, addressed a petition to Emperor Leopold I. in January 1705, asking permission to begin teaching engineering sciences. Leopold's son, Emperor Joseph I., who succeeded his father on Habsburg throne, responded to this request on 18th January 1707 with a decree in which he ordered the Czech general Estates to found an engineering school in Prague [Rescript of the Emperor Joseph I]. Willenberg began teaching in his private flat with only 12 students. However, the number of students grew rapidly and reached more than 200 in 1779. Willenberg's successor was Jan Ferdinand Schor, author of the textbook on mathematical sciences taught at the Institute.

A. L. HergetThe third Professor of the Institute of Engineering was František Antonín Herget, who was particulary well-known for his lectures on practical applications of mechanics.

F. J. GerstnerIn 1806, following the project of František Josef  Gerstner, based on the model of l' Ecole  Polytechnique  de Paris, the institute of Engineering Education was transformed into Prague Polytechnic. At that time Prague Polytechnic was the only school of higher technical education in the Austrian empire.

polytechnikaMany other people famous for their work in the sciences worked and thought at Prague Polytechnic.
The most outstanding was Christian Doppler, Professor of mathematics and practical geometry from 1837 to 1847. In 1842 Doppler formulated his well-known principle concerning the frequency shift of waves due to the relative velocity of the source and the observer. This effect is routinely used in many fields of human activities, including physics, astronomy, medicine, meteorology and transformation.

In 1863, Prague Polytechnic was transformed into a technical university headed by a rector. At that time the studies were divided into 4 specialisations: Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering and Architecture.

In 1891, František Křižík, a former student of Prague Polytechnic, constructed the first electric street car in Prague. Architect Josef Zitek, a professor at the Polytechnic, designed many beautiful buildings in the Czech lands, Germany and Austria. His work included the National Theatre in Prague, the jewel of Czech architecture. In 1912, Jan Zvoníček professor of theory and design of steam engines and compressors, invented a radial steam turbine.

After the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the name of the school was changed in 1920 to the Czech Technical University in Prague, which united seven schools, including the School of Chemical Technology, the School of Agriculture and Forestry, and the School of Business. These three above mentioned schools developed into independent universities in the early 1950's.

In 1921, Academician František Klokner founded the research and testing institute for materials and structures, attached to CTU. This was the first institute of its kind in Central Europe and it exists still to this day.

CTU Professor František Běhounek, a postgraduate student of Marie Curie-Sklodowska, made important contributions to dosimetry. He participated in two expeditions to the North Pole, the second of which, led by Italian general Umberto Nobile, ended with the tragic crash of the airship ,,Italia". Běhounek continued making improvised measurements of natural radioactivity in the survivors' camp and obtained very important data.

In 1975, Professor Vlado Prelog, a 1928 CTU graduate, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

uzavření VŠ 1939 During the last three quarters of the last century, worldwide, the advanced in engineering and science have been enormous. However, the developments in the Czechoslovak Republic were slowed down by the Nazi occupation (1938-1945). Universities were closed for six years and by the economically stagnating communist regime (1948-1989) accompanied by the political oppression. Hundreds of students and scores of lectures and researchers were kicked out from the universities and research institutes. In spite of this, during these difficult times graduates and staff members of the Czech Technical University created numerous remarkable engineering and architectural works, developed noteworthy technologies, mechanical and electrical equipment, and achieved notable scientific accomplishments and inventions. Outstanding personalities associated with CTU have been so numerous that it would be fair to name a few here and to forget the others. Many have gained noteworthy prizes and awards, others have been promoted to Doctors Honoris Causa.

FS-žezlo FSv-žezlo FEL-žezlo FJFI-žezlo Žezlo FA Žezlo FD
In the course of the last half century, the Czech Technical  University in Prague has undergone several reorganisation: the faculty of economic sciences was closed after 1948, and the faculty of chemical technology and the faculty of agriculture became independent in 1952. After 1960, CTU had four faculties: of civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and a forerunner of the present faculty of nuclear science and physical engineering. The faculty of architecture was founded in 1976, the faculty of transportation science in 1993, and faculty of biomedical engineering in 2005 - so at present, CTU has seven faculties.

From the brochure "Student Survival Guide to Prague", CTU Prague.