A trio of leaders from The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Engineering expressed gratitude for the past and optimism for the future after a recent weeklong visit to the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague.
Theresa Maldonado, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering, along with Carlos Ferregut, Ph.D., associate dean for strategic and global initiatives, and Kelvin Cheu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, traveled to the Czech Republic to mark the 25th anniversary of CTU’s Faculty of Transportation Sciences.
UTEP had a role in CTU’s milestone as, for more than a decade, the College of Engineering has collaborated with the Faculty of Transportation Sciences on a Trans-Atlantic Dual Master’s Degree Program in transportation science and logistics systems.
Since 2006, the program has helped 14 students – a majority of them from Prague – earn a Master of Science in civil engineering or industrial engineering from UTEP and a Master of Technology in transportation and telecommunications from CTU. The UTEP delegation met with seven of these former students during their time in Prague. They expressed their appreciation of the excellent education and professional preparation they gained at UTEP. UTEP students also expressed their gratitude for the program. One of those students who benefitted from it is Alejandra Gallegos. Gallegos studied at CTU in 2011-12. She said her experience in Prague was rewarding.
“Studying in the Czech Republic was a very enriching experience,” Gallegos said. “Not only did I earn two master’s degrees in one program, but I also had the opportunity to experience life abroad.”
The two institutions further solidified their relationship by signing a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will extend their partnership through the 2023-24 academic year. The new MOU charges both schools with creating a dual master’s program on smart cities. For UTEP, the new agreement opens doors to graduate students in all departments of the College of Engineering.
“For the next six years, [students] will have access to a unique program, one that will allow them the opportunity to earn two graduate degrees and give them an international experience that will benefit their future careers,” Maldonado said. “The European Union is immersed in developing smart cities strategies, and Prague is one of the cities which is deeply engaged in these discussions. We met with the mayor of Prague, Adriana Krnáčová, to further align our mutual strategies and our partnership more effectively. I am most grateful to the leadership, faculty, and staff at CTU who have worked tirelessly to facilitate our students’ success.”
In addition to signing a new agreement, CTU also bestowed two members of the UTEP delegation with the faculty’s highest honor during an evening ceremony at the school.
Cheu was awarded the Professor F.J. Gerstner Medal of Merit. The award recognizes distinguished academic contributions and is named for the first director of CTU when it became a polytechnic school in 1806. UTEP President Diana Natalicio also was awarded the medal. Maldonado accepted the award on her behalf.
“I am honored to accept the Professor F.J. Gerstner Medal of Merit,” President Natalicio said in a video address that was played during the ceremony. “It’s an extraordinary honor that symbolizes the rich academic traditions that have been at the core of CTU since its origins as the continent’s oldest non-military technical university. For this recognition, I am extremely grateful.”
Cheu echoed President Natalicio’s sentiments and said he is looking forward to taking on the challenges the new MOU presents.
“This is a very nice recognition of the work we have done,” Cheu said. “In creating the new dual master’s program, I’ll be working with all departments in the College of Engineering. It is a new challenge. There are different requirements and different cultures with each department. But, there are also new opportunities for collaboration as we move into the new research frontier.”
Author: Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications