Czech Mates: College of Engineering Strengthens Ties with University in Prague

UT student Emily Frame rearranges the fuel in the core of a reactor at Czech Technical University in Prague while an instructor oversees and inspects the process.

UT student Emily Frame rearranges the fuel in the core of a reactor at Czech Technical University in Prague while an instructor oversees and inspects the process.

For many college students, the week after graduation signals an opportunity to travel. For a lucky few, that might even include a trip abroad.

For a group of Department of Nuclear Engineering students, it means both a chance to head to Europe and the opportunity of a lifetime.

Led by assistant professors Ondrej Chvala and Eric Lukosi, the nine students are in Prague, Czech Republic, spending time with their counterparts at Czech Technical University and even taking a trip to the uranium mine in Roznika.

It’s all part of a developing bond between the two universities as they move to build a closer relationship.

“This represents a great chance for UT students to share ideas with counterparts from another part of the world, to work through real-world scenarios, and to gain experience in a way different from what they might otherwise see,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “Being able to actually participate in activities at the nuclear reactor is a great experience for all involved.”

CTU was founded in 1707 and is one of the oldest and largest technical institutions in Central Europe. Among its notable alumni are Christian Doppler, pioneering researcher of the Doppler effect; Frantisek Krizik, inventer of the electric arc lamp; and Vladimir Prelog, the 1975 Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner.

With a memorandum of understanding in place, the focus will shift to joint research opportunities, the sharing of educational material and ideas, and the exchange of students, faculty, staff, and researchers.

“We’re pleased to be able to team up with them, and for our students to get some experience in seeing how another country’s nuclear program runs,” said Department of Nuclear Engineering head Wes Hines. “We’re building a good relationship with Dr. (Lubomir) Sklenka’s nuclear department, one that can be beneficial to both institutions.”

An early peek into how the relationship could have added benefits for students is already on display, with UT student Emily Frame wrapping up a two-semester stint working with CTU.

As part of the experience, Frame recently participated in a critical experiment involving the university’s nuclear reactor—actively working with Czech students in the process—including lowering the fuel rods into the reactor.

“How many students can say that they have gone inside a reactor and disassembled pieces of the core?” asked Frame. “That’s the most unique part of my experience. Not only have I been able to conduct experiments at the reactor, I’ve also participated in its maintenance.”

Assistant professor Eric Lukosi, right, shakes hands with Czech Technical University's Lubomir Sklenka while CTU's Ondrej Chvala helps hold a signed memorandum of understanding with UT.

Assistant professor Eric Lukosi, right, shakes hands with Czech Technical University’s Lubomir Sklenka while UT’s Ondrej Chvala helps hold a signed memorandum of understanding with UT.

Frame also took part in last year’s group visit to Prague and Vienna, Austria, which included stops at nuclear facilities and cultural icons in the region, and credits the ability of the two universities to work together and the eagerness of the faculty in Prague for making her studies abroad a success.

“The partnership between Czech Technical University and UT provided me the opportunity to further my education in a unique, highly personalized way,” said Frame. “That this experience has been so productive, so pleasant, is largely due to the time and effort my professors have taken to work with me one on one.

“I hope my participation in this program and the opportunity I’ve had here to interact with Czech students from all levels of study—both inside and outside the classroom—will encourage other UT students to study at the university here in Prague.”

For more on the College of Engineering, visit the website.

Learn more about UT’s Study Abroad programs here.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)

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