The legend of American robotics, Ruzena Bajcsy, received the awards for her contribution to the development of Czech and Slovak-American scientific cooperation

The personality of world robotics of Slovak origin, a legend in the field of computer science, Professor Ruzena Bajcsy, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Žilina and a medal of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics CTU in Prague (CIIRC CTU) for her lifelong contribution to the development of science and Czech- and Slovak-American research relations. This happened in Prague during the US-EU workshop on the use of artificial intelligence in the industry, which was co-organised by her, Prof. Vladimír Mařík, and Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster.

Prof. Bajcsy receiving the CIIRC CTU Medal from Dr. Velek
Prof. Bajcsy receiving Doctor Honoris Causa from Prof. Jandačka

Professor Bajcsy received an honorary doctorate in the form of a medal of the University of Žilina from the Rector, Prof. Jozef Jandačka. The Director of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CIIRC CTU) awarded this American scientist with a commemorative medal of the Institute. With a career spanning more than 60 years in mathematical informatics and robotics, Růžena Bajcsy is the Director Emeritus of the CITRIS Institute (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) at the University of California, Berkeley. At the turn of the century, she was very active in the leadership of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency established by the U.S. Congress that supports computer science projects with a budget of over $500 million. She is the author of a number of scientific publications and the holder of many awards and honorary doctorates from American and European universities.

I was born in Bratislava, at the time of Czechoslovakia, so I feel an affinity to the technological developments of this region.
I have always believed that technology and science should serve people. And all my career I have also been looking for ways in which engineering, informatics, and technology can be at the service of society. My intent is to expose the Czechs and Slovaks closer to what is going on in the context of new technologies in the US and vice versa.

Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy, UC Berkeley
Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy at the US-EU Workshop on Intelligent Manufacturing, 2 June 2022, CIIRC CTU, Prague
Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy and Prof. Jozef Jandačka, rector of the University of Zilina

Prof. Bajscy’s scientific scope is broad and covers the fields of electrical engineering, medical imaging, robotics, artificial intelligence, computational biology, machine perception, and automation. As she states, she has always been interested in fundamentally understanding the behaviour of technology and seeking basic generalisable answers, with inspiration coming from testing and observation in applications such as biology and robotics.

Thanks to the personal ties and support from Prof. Bajcsy as well as Dr. S. Shankar Sastry, at that time Dean of College of Engineering (today Berkeley Engineering), a number of joint scientific publications have been created, but most importantly, we have established a partnership between our university and UC Berkeley Engineering.
I am very glad that we managed to build a new laboratory for artificial intelligence at the University of Žilina, so-called LUIZA. At the same time, we have gained access to laboratories in Berkeley, which allows us to carry out exchange visits for Slovak students, scientists, and educators.

Prof. Jozef Jandačka, Rector, University of Žilina, Slovakia

Professor Bajcsy is also known for her strong support of young talent and scientists. She has mentored more than three dozen PhD students, many of whom have established themselves in the scientific community as well as in industrial research. 

Doctor Honoris Causa Medal of the University of Žilina
Representatives of the University of Žilina at the US-EU Workshop at CIIRC CTU in Prague, 2 June 2022

I am now residing at the University of Pennsylvania, namely in GRASP lab which I established in 1979. It might be interesting to facilitate access for Czech and Slovak students if they want to use this opportunity.”

Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy about her plans

Many of her doctoral students are women. She came to Prague accompanied by three of her colleagues, who presented the latest results of their research in robotics.

Prof. Bajcsy and two of her recent postdocs:
Isabella Huang, UC Berkeley, and Carolyne Matl, Toyota Research, US
Nadia Figueroa, UPENN, US, Assistant Professor at the GRASP lab which was established by Prof. Bajcsy in 1979

“Great ideas and brains are everywhere in the world and are not limited by parameters such as the size of a country.
Young people want to work on exciting ideas. Just give them the opportunity and the motivation, and the results will come on their own. Young people, scientists, male or female without any favour for anyone, need to have the opportunity to present how they think about new things and what difficulties they have to face in their research – because the young generation is the future, we are the past.”

Prof. Ruzena Bajcsy’s message to Czech and Slovak Republics
Dr. Ondřej Velek awarding Prof. Bajcsy
Dr. Ondřej Velek, Director, and Prof. Vladimír Mařík, Scientific Director, CIIRC CTU, during the medal ceremony

Professor Bajcsy is a great inspiration for us. She has shown us many opportunities for much broader international cooperation, for which we have a lot to offer within the CTU. It is mainly thanks to her that the leaders in the field of robotics from the USA and Europe met in Prague.

Dr. Ondřej Velek, CIIRC CTU Director
Organising committee of the US-EU Workshop: Prof. Wahlster, Prof. Bajcsy, Prof. Mařík
Prof. Petr Zuna, EA CR, and Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster, DFKI

One of the personalities present was also Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster, the founder of the concept Industry 4.0, who received the diploma of an elected foreign member of the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic in person from its president, Prof. Petr Zuna.

We had planned to present the diploma in November during the EA CR Awards ceremony in Bethlehem Chapel, but unfortunately this was not possible due to the covid.
I am convinced that Professor Wahlster’s membership in the EA CR will promote cooperation between Czech and German engineers and researchers in the field of technical sciences.” 

Prof. Petr Zuna, President of the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic (EA CR)

His words are also confirmed by Prof. Wahlster:

“I am very pleased to receive the certificate of my fellowship and will try to strengthen the cooperation between the German Academy of Engineering – acatech – and its Czech counterpart.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, CEA, DFKI