Training tomorrow’s engineers
Seeds are sprouting
The assembly hall of Szent István University of Gödöllő (SZIE) is decorated by a 120-square-metre relief created by Hungarian-born artist Amerigo Tot. The relief glorifies the seed, the symbol of the beginning of everything. SZIE itself is actually a creative initiator; it has used part of its training funds to acquire SKF equipment as a way to increase the level of education its students receive.The hope is that the transfer of knowledge will accelerate between the university, SKF and the companies in the region.
“The equipment could not operate without the knowledge,” says Tibor Mezei, director of the dean’s management at the university. “The knowledge is given by SKF free of charge, as it outsources the technical expertise of its specialists to the
university. The companies in the region have started hunting for students, and they are showing interest in SKF’s technology and methods as well.”
The new Education and Research Laboratory contains basic devices with accessories for the alignment of shafts and machines, instruments for measuring vibration and educational equipment and tools for bearing mounting and dismounting. These instruments make it possible for the university to teach top-level technical culture and knowledge.
For its part, SKF will realize its long-standing strategy, says József Budinszki manager SKF Reliability Systems, “to exceed the bearings’ sphere and to offer the world SKF knowledge.” The seeds are only the beginning. There is more to come.
A new laboratory at St Stephen’s University in Hungary is leading the way to a future pool of graduating engineers with experience in cutting-edge technology, as well as an exchange of knowledge between academia and industry.
In April 2010, a new Education and Research Laboratory was inaugurated at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at St Stephen’s University (Szent István Egyetem or SZIE) in Gödöllő, Hungary. The new laboratory, created in a joint effort between SKF and the university, is situated within the university’s Engineering Information Centre.
It was St Stephen’s University that instigated the idea, turning to SKF with a proposal to create the laboratory after the renovation work on its Research Centre was completed in 2008. “We wanted to make technology available to our students that could help us establish stronger ties with practice and train graduates who would be sought after in the labour market,” Rector László Solti told the inauguration guests. “Our university wants to deliver engineers who have some idea of what a workplace looks like.”
Integrating academic and practical training has become increasingly important in generating interest in engineering among students in Hungary, who have shown a reluctance to enrol in technical studies. This has led to a serious shortage of top-quality engineers in the labour market. The new laboratory will be key in generating interest among Hungarian students.
According to István Szabó, dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, training highly qualified engineers would be unthinkable without the modern instruments the new laboratory provides. And the laboratory will create new opportunities also for SKF, as its technology can be utilized not only by the Mechanical Engineering faculty, but by other areas as well.
For SKF, the aim in supporting the laboratory at SZIE is to encourage the mutual transfer of knowledge between students, professors and SKF. “If you don’t pay attention to students, to their innovations and ideas, you won’t know what will happen in industrial practice in five to 10 years’ time,” says Rene Laebel, manager SKF Reliability Systems. “They are, after all, our future business partners and potential customers.”
Tamás Szabó, managing director SKF Hungary, notes that a few years ago, when a recruiting company asked him to recommend engineers with an extensive knowledge, both theoretical and practical, and with a good command of foreign languages, he was seriously embarrassed because he didn’t know any. Szabó hopes that in future he will be able to recommend that such recruiting companies look to the students of SZIE. During his own student days, Szabó recalls, students would se bild ht over the SKF catalogue, the only such catalogue available in Hungarian. The catalogues were particularly useful for computing and designing. Today, they are available on CD or can be downloaded from the company’s international website.
The decrease in the number of engineering students has been accompanied by a decrease in quality as well. The university has compensated for this by increasing the amount of training students must go through in physics and maths. Now, the new laboratory will fill an important gap in the students’ training with advanced technology. Many well-known global companies have established production sites in Hungary, including in the region surrounding Gödöllő, and these sites require highly skilled professionals. “This demand can only be met if we introduce to our students the most up-to-date technology – technology that is commonly used in industry in general or, even higher, at a level that an SKF laboratory represents,” says Tibor Mezei, director of the dean’s management at the university.
SZIE and SKF have interests in common, Tamás Szabó explains. The university is interested in attracting as many students as possible; SKF is interested in increasing the number of its future stakeholders. The laboratory, which is the third in the region – there are laboratories in Lithuania and the Czech Republic – can help to achieve these goals.
The Gödöllő University administration hopes that, in addition to the new laboratory, an “Academy of SKF” can be launched soon. The idea is that SKF experts would organize courses in different fields of technology in cooperation with university professors, covering both adult education and further training for professionals working in various companies, Mezei says. At the inauguration in April, both university and the SKF officials expressed hope that the new laboratory was only the beginning of a long-term relationship.