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A joint delegation consisting of Vice-Deans of Faculty of Transportation Sciences, prof. Miroslav Svítek and doc. Tomáš Horák, Ambassador Mr. Miloslav Stašek and Cultural Attaché Mr. Jan Woska visited the partner university UTEP in El Paso, Texas on 7-9 September 2023.

The main topic of the visit was to support the long-term cooperation between CTU and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). In addition, the delegation was able to meet with the Mayor of El Paso Oscar Leeser, Czech students and athletes from the university working at UTEP and important representatives of the Czech community in the American South.

The cooperation between CTU and UTEP began in 2008. In 2010, the universities received a grant under the ATLANTIS programme to establish a joint Dual Master's Degree Programme in Transportation and Logistics Systems. Its successful operation was followed in 2018 by the current Dual Master's Degree Program in Smart Cities, under which Czech and American students receive a Master's degree from both universities.

The current challenge is not only to maintain the current level of cooperation, but to deepen it. To this end, personal meetings were held with Rector of UTEP, Ms. Heather Wilson, and Dean of the College of Engineering, Mr. Kenith Meissner. Rector Wilson replaced in 2019 the Rector Diana Natalicio, who led UTEP for 31 years and was a major supporter of Czech-American university cooperation. In a recent meeting with the new Rector, potential projects in the areas of security, aviation and aerospace were identified for the development of future cooperation with the involvement of the Embassy of the Czech Repubic in Washington.

As a result of the whole meeting, the Rector of UTEP confirmed the intention to extend the Memorandum of Cooperation between UTEP and CTU and the offer of the embassy to organize a festive presentation of the final projects of the students of the Dual Master's Degree Program in Smart Cities, which the Dean of the College of Engineering Mr. Keith Meissner was very interested in.

The next item on the joint programme was a meeting with the founder of the now fifteen-year long cooperation between CTU and UTEP, Professor Carlos Ferregut. He has provided ongoing support to this collaboration, first as Director of Global Programs in the College of Engineering, then as Dean and now as Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, where dual-degree Smart Cities is implemented.

Promoting university cooperation was also a major agenda in the meeting with Mayor Oscar Leeser. Collaboration with the City of El Paso in the format of an inter-university connection between UTEP and CTU was discussed. The Smart Prague project was discussed and a clear message came out that Prague and CTU have much to offer El Paso and its leading university. Getting a project from the city that the two universities would jointly tackle would undoubtedly contribute to the development of this relationship. CTU sees the greatest potential in the Smart Border project, which could help relieve El Paso's congested car customs.

The best measure of the cooperation between UTEP and CTU is the students themselves, not only the current ones, but also the two alumnae who, after completing the Dual Master's Degree program, are continuing their doctoral studies in close cooperation with the American UTEP. All of them agreed that by studying at UTEP they will not only get an American university degree, but also the confidence to apply in the international job and science market. The experiences of their American counterparts who studied at the CTU are very similar. Czech students also rate El Paso as an extremely pleasant and very safe place to live, as evidenced by statistics that rank El Paso among the Top 10 safest American cities.

In addition to the CTU students, three Czech athletes (high jump, basketball and tennis) are also present at UTEP. A discussion was held with them and their coaches not only about the difficulty of combining studies and sports, but also about how the embassy in Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can contribute to formalizing cooperation in the field of sports scholarships. This is because these allow our talented students to receive an education from a prestigious university not only without financial cost on their part, but in some cases with financial support from UTEP.

Among the prominent Czech-Americans personalities living in the El Paso area, there was a meeting with conductor Bohuslav Rattay, who, after graduating from the Prague Conservatory, went on to Rice University and the Peabody Institute of Music and today is a recognized personality not only in Texas cultural life. In El Paso, he conducts the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and is a de facto main element of the growing expatriate community in the region.

The joint bssiness trip of the representatives of the CTU and the embassy in Washington can thus be evaluated as extremely successful. The Czech academics from CTU, as well as the students, have already left a permanent mark on UTEP, especially with the quality of their work. Especially at the Collage Of Engineering, the Czech Republic is an established brand. The very first American students that the delegation met upon entering the university greeted them with gratitude that theyou could have studied in the Czech Republic thanks to the cooperation with CTU, liking it very much.

Contact person: 
Petra Skolilová