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In recent days, the first graduates of the dual-degree study programme Smart Cities were held at the partner university UTEP in the USA. The graduates Kateřina Pithartová, Eliška Glaserová and Martin Čirkov successfully passed the state final exams and defended their theses and can now use the American MSc title in addition to the Czech Master's degree. The completion of the Master's degree course with two world-renowned degrees is a significant element of this unique study programme.

The accreditation for the prestigious dual-degree master program Smart Cities with the American University of Texas of El Paso was obtained by the Faculty of Transportation Sciences of the Czech Technical University in Prague in 2020. The first students entered the program in the autumn of the academic year 2020/21. The study is conceived as a two-year program where students from the Czech Republic study in English in the first year, but at the home university of the Czech Technical University – Faculty of Transportation Sciences, and for the second year of study they travel to the partner university UTEP in the USA, where their state final exam of the study program takes place. This first run was accompanied by a number of complications, mainly due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions. After a very demanding administrative process of granting special permits, passing all compulsory vaccinations and other new and originally uncalculated conditions (new higher form of health insurance) for a one-year study stay in the USA, the first four scouts of this study program were sent to sunny Texas at the beginning of August 2021.

The beginning and challenging study conditions at the American university were not only accompanied by fears of unfamiliarity with the environment or language barrier, but especially of the overall complex situation in connection with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

The first few weeks were very difficult indeed, especially in connection with the transition to the American way of studying at university, which is far more based on intensive independent work within the topics taught than on memorization of knowledge.

In addition to their standard study duties, all three students joined the research team at UTEP as scientific auxiliaries, gaining a number of valuable experiences and opportunities to get acquainted with the commercial environment of American technology and transportation companies. It was this overlap that led to their decision to continue their studies in the doctoral program.

By their presence and active approach to their studies, they have significantly contributed to the visibility of the Faculty of Transportation Sciences of the Czech Technical University on an international scale and at the same time help to spread awareness of Czech traditions and culture. The area of El Paso is very specific for its close neighbourhood with Mexico, which creates very good conditions for the diversity of cultures and nations in the best sense of the word. Not only is the local community open and helpful for all comers, but it also defines very pleasant conditions for high-quality scientific research activities. UTEP University was awarded a prestigious R1 award by the Carnegie Classification of Institution of Higher Education this year, becoming part of a prestigious group of 141 American universities out of a total of more than 4000.

In this very stimulating environment and despite all the complications, Kateřina, Eliška and Martin successfully defended their final theses, the topics of which were closely connected with current projects from the UTEP partner university. It was a parking system solution for the entire UTEP campus or a mapping and subsequent simplification of check-in at the border crossings between Juarez (Mexico) and El Paso (USA). El Paso lies directly on the border and at least half of UTEP students go through this process on a daily basis. In their theses, Czech students combined modelling tools using both standard and non-standard scenarios for the creation of functional architecture of the two above-mentioned tasks, whether using system analysis tools or diagrams according to the UML standard.

In the week of May 9, they went through together with representatives of their home university Professor Miroslav Svítek, docent Tomáš Horák and Dr. Petra Skolilová through a rich and very demanding program connected with their graduation at UTEP University.

The Master Hooding Ceremony – or ceremonial act in which students are awarded for above-standard study results and at the same time they are handed a hoodie – a hood that forms a significant part of the clothing intended for the graduation ceremony. Two days later, the final exams followed, which took place on American soil, but as mentioned above, with the active participation of three representatives from the home faculty. The exams had to meet both American and Czech conditions for proper course. Unlike almost a thousand American colleagues who passed the final exams at UTEP in other study programs together with them, the Czech trio, in addition to defending their final thesis, also awaited the state final exams in three subjects. We can proudly state that their results were above-standard and overall all three graduated with honors; their final theses were proposed for the prestigious award Prof. Vlček Prize.

In the following days, they were able to attend the College of Engineering gala dinner with clear heads, where the students of this faculty meet their professors and graduates from previous years as part of a social evening. And everything culminated in the final graduation, or UTEP Commencement Ceremony. This pompous event, where nearly 1,000 students graduated, undoubtedly ranks among the most emotional experiences of all participants and was more than a dignified conclusion to their two-year studies.

During their stay, the Czech delegation met with a number of leading representatives of The University of Texas of El Paso, headed by the university president herself, Dr. Heather A. Wilson.

Part of the entire partnership project between the CTU Faculty of Transportation Sciences and UTEP University is the creation of a unique joint Dual Twin Lab – SmartLab located at the Department of Logistics and Management of Transport, where a model of Prague is created using virtual and augmented reality for the application of various transport simulations and other problems. The workplace is equipped with the most modern VR technology and in cooperation with OICT, the most modern approaches are applied for creating a simulation environment usable in the real conditions of the capital city of Prague. In the future, it is planned to expand with a virtual model of the city of El Paso and to connect scientific-research projects in both cities. Already now, the laboratories are teaching a number of subjects of the SC study programme and it is part of the solution of scientific grants of the faculty.




Contact person: 
Ing. Petra Skolilová, Ph.D.
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