Rector Vélez-Arocho, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!


It is my great honour and privilege to have the opportunity to speak here on the opening of ICEE-2006, not only on behalf of the iNEER Board, but also on behalf of my home institution, VSB-Technical University of Ostrava in Ostrava, Czech Republic, one of the founding members of ICEE more than 10 years ago.  My institution was the hosting university for ICEE-1999 and iCEER-2004.


The short history of our ICEE conferences shows that the basic idea of ICEE and iCEER, namely, achieving mutual progress through international partnership, is being accepted around the world as a very practical and realistic goal toward promoting innovations in engineering education worldwide.  What we are trying to achieve is now of wide-spread interest as future progress in engineering education will be the key to the future progress in the global economy.


The role and mission of engineering education is undergoing transformation.  There has always been a gap between the pure science and applied research that is carried out at a university and the achievement of a viable commercial product delivered to global marketplace.


But without the faculty, students and other investigators working at universities there can be no technology that can be transferred.  The economic growth of each country has depended and will continue to depend on advancement in technology which, in recent years, has become much more multidisciplinary.  


Allow me to cite only one example: The most hopeful news in health care today springs from the application of new technologies – surgeons are better informed and prepared thanks to new virtual reality simulations; diagnoses are more accurate because of new digital imaging technology; and cardiac specialists are looking at new ways based on special technology to repair damaged heart tissue.  


Accelerating the development of innovative technologies for broad benefit is not possible without a partnership between universities and the public and private sectors.


Today, many universities are thinking about commercialization strategies in terms of licensing on spin-offs.  The process suffers the structural disadvantage of inhibiting transfer of knowledge.  In such cases, a more effective and collaborative solution is based on joint ventures using high-technology platforms.


Here, the benefits for companies include: development of new products; finding technical solutions; access to experts and state-of-the-art facilities at universities, including laboratories, graduate students and equipment.  Companies also receive a more efficient transfer of technology while collaborating with students, who are potential future employees.


There are also important benefits for universities, including: performing research leading directly to the commercialization of technology; funding for improving university facilities; valuable experience for students working on commercial technologies; and improving social standards for professors.


The benefits for the local economy include: marketing of successful commercial products; job creation; and attractiveness for venture capital. 


Such a partnership solution helps companies become more globally competitive, and improve skills of their workforce. 


It is also more attractive for students, because they have access to a problem–oriented education.  They can participate in graduate certificate programs focused on the application of engineering principles. 


The university’s facilities, laboratories and equipment could be used also for workforce training supported by companies in the form of customized projects.  


A partnership such as this that transforms the laboratory environment to a real production operation must lead to success for everyone involved.         


I am very glad that these topics are included in the program of ICEE-2006, where we can discuss the influence of and experience gained in the different countries, cultures, traditions and social–economic environment.


Allow me to congratulate the Rector of University of Puerto-Rico, Mayaguez, Prof. Jorge Vélez-Arocho, and his associates for the excellent preparations for the conference.


I am sure that ICEE-2006 will be a further step in the successful story on international cooperation in engineering education, research and innovation.


Thank you for your attention.