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History of Faculty of Civil Engineering

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Pražská polytechnika The Faculty of Civil Engineering, at present one of the eight colleges of the Czech Technical University in Prague, was established, on January 18, 1707 at the initiative of Josef Christian Willenberg. On the basis of the foundation Charter, issued by Emperor Joseph I and written in Czech, the institution, under the name of the Estates School of Engineering in Prague, was proclaimed as the first public engineering school in Central Europe. Nonetheless, the history of Czech technical education goes back further than this date. It was preceded by the Prague Public Engineering and Metallurgical School, in actual fact the first civil engineering school in the Czech Lands. Founded in 1344, four years before Charles University of Prague was established, the school´s founder was Master Matthias of Arras, brought from France by the Czech prince Vaclav (Wenceslas), later famous as the King of Bohemia and Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. The school was founded so that Matthias might ensure necessary qualifications for his collaborators.

 

The Estates School of Engineering was therefore among the first of its kind in all of Europe, established forty years before, for instance, the prestigious and still existing Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees of Paris, which was founded in 1747. While in its beginnings under the leadership of its founder and first professor J. C. Willenberg, the institution was intended for military and fortification engineering, its focus gradually turned towards civilian engineering under the management of its second professor J. F. Schor, an outstanding artist, painter, architect and theorist, The process was strengthened further after his death, when the third and last professor F. A. Herget, a distinguished geodesic and hydraulic engineering specialist, was the head of the School. After the School´s temporary absorbtion into the university (during which it nonetheless maintained its own chief administrator), which took place during Prof. Herget´s tenure in 1787, the Royal Bohemian Estates Polytechnical School regained independence in 1815 under Prof. F. J. Gerstner, a prominent astronomer, geodesist and specialist in hydraulic and railway engineering. A new and significant epoch of development started in 1861, when the Czech language, thanks to Prof. Skuhersky´s undaunted stand, was introduced as a language of instruction and administration side by side with German, hitherto used exclusively. In 1864, the School was divided into two parts, Czech and German, testifying to the economic and cultural strength of the Czech population and as well to the development of industry in the Czech Lands. As early as 1863, when the organic status was issued granting equal rights to the Czech and German languages, four individual study branches of instruction were introduced: hydraulic and highway engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and technical chemistry. Finally, in 1869, the Royal Bohemian Polytechnical National Institute was officially divided into two independent institutes: Czech and German.

 

After the nationalization of both the Polytechnical National Schools in 1875, the Czech School was renamed the Royal and Imperial Bohemian Technical University in Prague in 1879. According to the new organizational regulations introduced after Czechoslovak national independence in 1920, the name of the school was changed to the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU).

 

During the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany, all Czech universities were forcibly closed from 1939 till 1945. After the liberation, all the colleges of the Technical University of Prague were able to resume their activities. Following the changes in 1920, the University comprised seven individual colleges: civil engineering, architecture and building construction, mechanical and electrical engineering, chemical technology, agricultural and forestry engineering, special sciences and commerce.

 

In 1951, the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering was divided into the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. In 1952, the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Chemical Technology left the Czech Technical University and established individual universities. In 1959, the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering was founded, followed by the Faculty of Transportation Sciences in 1994.

 

From the point of view of the present Faculty of Civil Engineering, in terms of organization, conception, and educational mission, it is highly significant, perhaps even symbolic, that three leading personalities of their age, who deserve credit for founding and expanding the Estates School of Engineering in Prague, impressed a many-sided approach to problems of construction onto the University from its outset. They were the first professor J. C. Willenberg in the field of civil and fortification engineering, the second professor J. F. Schor in the artistic and architectural field, and the third professor F. A. Herget in the field of mathematical, geodesic and civil engineering.

 

Hand in hand with the technical universities´ organizational development, the statutory development proceeded on wards as well. In spite of the original absence of rules either for registration for lectures or for holding examinations, the final qualification was from the outset an open procedure, finalized with a public ceremony. Only beginning in 1878 were two state examinations introduced at the Royal and Imperial Bohemian Technical University in Prague. In 1901, when the examination rules were issued, the Prague Polytechnic was granted the right of conferring doctoral degrees (the first degree ceremony being held in 1902).

 

Hlavní vchod do budovy The Faculty of Civil Engineering came into existence in 1960 by bringing together the independent faculties of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Land Surveying, and the structural branch of the no longer extant Faculty of Economic Engineering. In 1976, the Faculty of Architecture once again established its independence.

 

According to its statutes, the Faculty of Civil Engineering´s objective, in mutual cooperation of the branches of study, departments and workplaces of the Faculty, is primarily:

  • to educate civil engineers in various study programs to acquire the knowledge necessary to analyze and solve technical and economic developments in the construction industry
  • to ensure a high level of scientific research, in its full complexity and orientation, in order to analyze and solve relevant tasks of development of scientific knowledge and its practical application in the construction industry
  • to serve as a centre of cultural activities in the field of construction.
The present-day organizational structure of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, including all branches of study as well as departments, is available on further web pages.

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