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Professor Růžena Bajcsy, a legend in the field of computer sciences, a world robotics personality of Slovak origin, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Žilina and a medal of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CIIRC CTUT) for her lifelong contribution to the development of science and Czech-Slovak-American scientific relations. This was during the US-EU workshop on the use of artificial intelligence in industry, which Prof. Bajcsy co-organized in Prague together with Prof. Vladimír Mařík and Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster.

Professor Bajcsy received the honorary doctorate in the form of a medal of the University of Žilina from the hands of the Rector Prof. Jozef Jandačka. Dr. Ondřej Velek, Director of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of CTU in Prague, presented the American scientist with the Institute's commemorative medal. Růžena Bajcsy, with a career spanning more than 60 years in mathematical informatics and robotics, is Director Emeritus of the CITRIS Institute (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) at the University of California, Berkeley. At the turn of the century, she was actively involved in the leadership of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency established by the U.S. Congress that supports over $500 million in computer science projects. She has authored numerous scientific publications and has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates from American and European universities.

 "I was born in Bratislava in the time of Czechoslovakia, so I feel a kinship with the technological development of this region," explains Prof. Bajcsy and continues, "I have always believed that technology and science should serve people. And throughout my career I have also been looking for ways in which technology, informatics and technology can be at the service of society. My intention is to bring Czechs and Slovaks closer to what is happening in the context of new technologies in the US and vice versa."

Prof. Bajscy's scientific scope is broad and covers the fields of electrical engineering, medical imaging, robotics, artificial intelligence, computational biology, machine perception and automation. As she states, she has always been interested in fundamentally understanding the behaviour of technology and seeking basic generalisable answers, with inspiration coming from testing and observation in applications such as biology and robotics.

"Thanks to the personal ties and support from Prof. Bajcsy and also the then Dean of the College of Engineering (now Berkeley Engineering), Dr. S. Shankar Sastra, a number of joint scientific publications were produced, but most importantly we established a partnership between our university and UC Berkeley Engineering," says the Rector of the University of Žilina, Prof. Jandačka, adding, "I am very pleased that we have managed to build a new laboratory for artificial intelligence, called LUIZA, at the University of Žilina. At the same time, we have access to laboratories in Berkeley, which allows us to carry out exchange visits for Slovak students, scientists and teachers."

Professor Bajcsy is also known for her great support of young talents and scientists. She has "raised" more than three dozen PhD students, many of whom have made it in the scientific community as well as in industrial research.

"I now work at the University of Pennsylvania, specifically in the GRASP lab, which I founded in 1979. It might be interesting to provide access to Czech and Slovak students if they would like to take advantage of this opportunity," says Professor Bajcsy, revealing her plans and vitality.

A large part of its PhD students are women. She came to Prague accompanied by three of them, who presented the latest results of their research in robotics.

"Great ideas and brains are to be found everywhere in the world, not limited by parameters such as the size of the country," says Prof. Bajcsy in regard to  Czech and Slovak Republics, "Young people want to work on exciting ideas. Just give them the opportunity and motivation and the results will come. We need young people, scientists, to have the opportunity to present how they think about new things and what difficulties they face in their research, without any favouritism - because the young generation is the future, as we are the past."

"Professor Bajcsy is a great inspiration for us," emphasizes Ondřej Velek, Director of the CIIRC CTU, and adds: "She shows us a number of opportunities for much broader international cooperation, for which we have a lot to offer within the CTU. It is mainly thanks to her that real leaders in the field of robotics from the USA and Europe have met in Prague."

One of the personalities attending was also Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster, the spiritual father of the term Industry 4.0, who personally received the diploma of an elected foreign member of the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic from the hands of its president Prof. Petr Zuna. "We had planned to present the diploma last November during the Academy of Engineering Awards ceremony in Bethlehem Chapel, but unfortunately it was not possible due to the covid," explains Prof. Zuna and adds: "I am convinced that Professor Wahlster's membership in the Czech Academy of Engineering will promote cooperation between Czech and German engineers and researchers in the field of engineering sciences."

His words are also confirmed by Prof. Wahlster: "I am very pleased with this membership and I will try to strengthen the cooperation between the German Academy of Acatech Engineers and its Czech counterpart."






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Ing. Mgr. Eva Doležalová