Warsaw University of Technology is among the country’s top schools in its field. The Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering, one of 20 existing faculties, focuses on power engineering, aerospace, mechanical engineering, automatic control and robotics, many of which provide key talents for the country’s energy industry.
The industry often quotes the availability of talent as one of their main challenged – based on enrollment numbers and direction students are taking what is your opinion?
The University at a whole is seeing a decrease in enrollment numbers, but our faculty still has the most candidates each year and we have not yet experienced a student number decrease. We start building relationships with students from the middle school stage as to attract the best talent to our faculty.
We are fortunate that we are centrally located so that we can still attract a large number of students each year. Universities and technical schools that are located elsewhere sometimes struggle to attract candidates. Approximately 300 of our students are international and receive their classes only in English. The power engineering field is our largest and comprises of approximately 40% of our 1700 students.
What is the relationship between WUT and companies in the energy sector?
We work in close cooperation with the industry, especially within the research arena. We regularly gain information from the industry on what they require from our graduates. We also collaborate with several companies which offer internship programs to out students.
We have discussions with industry to attain knowledge and advice on what graduates require to prepare them for the job. In 2020, we will have approximately 24 of these meetings with industry.
Can you elaborate on how industry needs are changing in this period, and how you are adapting?
We train students to work within the current industry, but also want to prepare them for the future of the industry. The goal is to provide them with a strong foundation of basic knowledge in technical sciences and industry will then train them further within specific fields.
Our program of study adapts in accordance to industry needs, but not very rapidly. In the energy sector there is currently a shift away from coal towards renewable energy resources - our programs try to move in the same direction.
Our sustainable power engineering courses include the study of nuclear energy, conventional energy and now also renewable energy. In recent years, we have observed a shift in the number of students from conventional power engineering into sustainable power engineering.
What are the key challenges experienced in the power engineering field of study?
We have become a research university and it was quite challenging shifting our focus to be able to deliver the best quality research projects in the energy transition and energy generation space. We are also developing international collaborations within the research field through our cooperation with the EU.
Our international students are mainly from India, Ukraine, the Middle East and African countries.
WUT also takes part in several EU funded research projects. One such example is Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation program. The countries we collaborate with depends on the topic of research. We have worked with various universities in Spain and Italy on the topic of thermal energy storage, and have partners in France and Sweden on the topic of nuclear power generation.
COVID-19 has been impacting the educational system very hard, how are you handling it and what do you expect to be the long term impact for WUT?
Currently most classes are successfully conducted in the online system, which was initially a challenge for both teachers and students. However, we do face some problems in the implementation of some laboratory classes that require the presence of students at the university.
We also anticipate some problems with the implementation of mandatory internships, but we hope that the situation will normalize in the coming months. On the one hand, this difficult period is a big challenge for the academic community, but it has also forced the acquisition of new skills, e.g. conducting remote classes, which can be used in the introduction of new teaching techniques in the future and extending the curriculum offer, especially for foreign students.
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