|Project of foundation of Faculty of Information Technologies at Brno University of Technology with the respect to industrial requirements and to Bologna declaration.
Jan M Honzik
Historical background of the Technical
Higher education has long tradition in the Czech part of the Central Europe. Well known Charles University (founded 1348) has successors in engineering education. The age of the three Technical universities is over one century. The oldest branches were based on lumbering and mining, followed by steel processing and machinery and mechanical engineering. Brno University of technology was founded in 1899, fifty years after establishing of Czech technical educational institute. Graduate of the five year university study program was awarded traditional title "Ing" - corresponding to MSc or MEng. The curriculum is based on strong theoretic prerequisite subject, mostly mathematics and physics.
Historical background of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Faculty of Electrical Engineering was founded in early sixties. The first attempt to establish the new faulty oriented to informatics in 1993 was modified to the transformation of the faculty to Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The explosive development if information and communication technologies made the condition for establishing the new faculty more promising.
Professionally oriented secondary schools educated about the half of post-primary educating population in the second half of the previous century. Leavers became the production work-masters, foremen and middle level-managers of production plants and factories. Less then 50% of graduates continued their studies at universities as the second most important input stream besides the general secondary schools of the "gymnasium" type.
Bologna declaration in Czech Universities
Bologna declaration brought the new view to tertiary level of education. Three level system - bachelor, master and doctor - is anchored in the new university law. Industrial environment influences start of realising the existence of the new type of professionals with broader competencies, with the stress for language, managerial and presentational abilities. Still, the aim of the most bachelors is to continue in master studies to obtain traditional title "ing", which is in the society more acceptable and appreciated then "Bc". The crucial question - whether the bachelor level is vocationally oriented or oriented as prerequisite for master degree - is still actual. The compromise is the most often solution. The rate of the compromise might me expressed in the percentage of theories in the bachelor curriculum. All technical universities adopted ECTS credit system and they uses it both for accumulation and transfer of credits.
Why the new faculty?
The first attempt to found the independent faculty oriented to informatics issued in the compromise with more developed priorities of computer science and separated study program from the beginning of the study at the common faculty with extended name to "Faculty if Electrical Engineering and Computer Science" in 1993. Explosive demand of professionals for IT in the U.S.A. and Germany encouraged the new attempt to establish the Faculty of Information Technologies. The answer to regular question, why communication technology is not involved, explains that the lost of both strong branches might make the rest of faculty too weak. The necessity for co-operation of information and communication parts of technologies might be good reason for peaceful and fruitful co-existence of both new faculties - Faculty of Information Technologies (FIT) and Faculty of Electrical and Communication Technologies (FECT).
Links to industry
There was well developed co-operation to Czech industry from the early sixties, when the department of computing started its career. Links to heavy industry are steadily changed to cooperation with the new factories, enterprises, branches and institutions dealing in information technologies and communication systems. Firms like Siemens-Austria, Flextronics, Celestica, IBM, Phillips, Motorola, Skoda-Volswagen, SAP, Microsoft, E.ON and numerous other firms extended their branches in the Technology Park and Industrial zone both in the tight neighbourhood of the BUT campus. These are the accelerating stimuli for establishing of the new Faculty of Information Technologies.
From elitism to professionalism
Economical analysis in the Czech university environment issues in the conclusion, that one thousand of students is the critical number for full independent life of faculty. The computing branch of the current faculty consisted from about 500-600 students. They have reasonably high performance and reputation. The question is, if doubled entry stream will have the same quality. It is necessary to find adequate methods, attitudes and incentives to educate professionals of different degrees, with the full competencies for the wide range of positions in the industry and IT exploiting positions. "Learning by doing it" and "Transfer of the responsibility from teacher to learner" will be the slogans of the future.
Quality and accreditation
The Czech university law insists on the very rigorous and consistent system of accreditation based on the periodical inspection and screening of independent governmental board. It consists from program evaluation and involves the institution audit too.
Curriculum of the new study program
Curriculum of the new study program will be discussed in detail in the paper. There will be description of the three study programmes:
- monothematic bachelor program IT with one branch,
- master program IT consisting from four branches: Information Systems, Intelligent Systems, Computer Systems and Networks, Computer Graphics and Multimedia
- monothematic doctoral studies IT
Bachelor program represents both vocational and master degree prerequisite orientation.
Introducing the ethics aspects to study program seems to be the new phenomenon, not popular sufficiently in the engineering studies. There are good seeds in the tradition of teaching computing at the current computer branch and they are to be extended and popularised in the new study program both in the individual course and as a part of all subjects.
While demographic curves indicate the systematic decreasing of the population, the percentage of girls among the student is alarming. Less then 2% of girls at all faculties of electrical engineering in the Czech republic is perhaps the symptom of feminisation of the teaching staff at secondary schools in the socialist era especially in the mats and physics. The situation is nor different for IT branches. The gender problem is to be solved in the future with greater attention of government and society.
The building of the new faculty is in progress and it is expected to come into existence in the year 2002.
Prof. Jan M Honzík
MSc, PhD, Ing-Paed IGIP
Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Brno University of Technology
Address: Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, BUT Brno
Udolni 53, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic