On Tuesday, November 23, during a ceremony in the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic (EACR) presented the twenty-fourth edition of the award for an excellent technical project. The team of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics, and Cybernetics (CIIRC) at the Czech Technical University in Prague received the 2020 award for the RP95-3D protective half mask. As part of the gala evening, an honorary foreign member of the EACR was also appointed – prof. Wolfgang Wahlster, one of the founders of Industry 4.0 from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, DFKI (find details also here). The ceremony took place under the auspices of the Rector of CTU in Prague doc. RNDr. Vojtěch Petráček, CSc., and the Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering CTU in Prague prof. Ing. Michael Valášek, DrSc.
The Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic awarded the project of the CIIRC CTU five-member team led by dr. Vít Dočkal. The CIIRC RP95-3D protective half mask was developed by researchers within one week in March 2020 in response to the urgent lack of protective equipment at the beginning of the first coronavirus wave. Using the state-of-the-art Testbed technology for Industry 4.0 from the European RICAIP project, the mask was both developed and certified as professional protective equipment. In cooperation with industrial partners, the mask soon was put into production, the first deliveries went mainly to the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic. Data for 3D printing were freely shared for non-commercial purposes and downloaded by more than a hundred institutions from 30 countries, including the US Navy. The newly established spin-off company TRIX Connections, in cooperation with a consortium of Czech companies, modified the mask so that it could be produced in series production at a production rate of tens of thousands of weeks.
“This year, the presidency of the Engineering Academy has decided to award the innovative achievement, which is also an example of effective cooperation between academia and industry in innovation and technology transfer, with international reach,” said prof. Petr Zuna, the founding member and president of the EACR, added: “An important aspect was that this is a project with a strong degree of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.”
“We very much appreciate the Engineering Academy Award. We have made full use of modern technologies and procedures, especially additive manufacturing and 3D printing, as the critical infrastructure of the future for crisis management. In addition to the need to come up with a product that will really help people, we were also interested in how to set up a model of cooperation so that it is possible to produce the product quickly in worsened conditions, anywhere in the world,” emphasized Vít Dočkal, who is responsible for strategic project management at CIIRC CTU, he added: “Without the involvement of a wide range of partners, whether from public administration or industry, we would not be able to implement a similar project in this form.”
This year’s award got a new look thanks to the support of long-term partner Preciosa. A hand-shaped trophy made of Czech crystal was presented, which combines modern methods and design with the tradition of Czech glass and engraving. The trophy symbolizes Ressl’s propeller, which the EACR has in its logo.
For the first time in history, the Engineering Academy Prize was awarded in 1997. The intention is to stimulate the work of scientists and researchers, designers, engineers and technicians. Among the most important of the projects awarded so far are, for example, the construction of a research centre for power lasers of the ASCR, the development of restoration and conservation technology for the Last Judgement mosaic at the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, or a number of projects related to the development of new machinery and equipment. Infrastructure projects were also awarded, such as the project of a new departure hall at Prague International Airport, the project of sliding subway tunnels under the Vltava River, giant reservoirs for the state’s strategic oil reserves and the original steel structures of the Sazka Arena roof in Prague and many others.
The Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic: The main activity of the Engineering Academy of the Czech Republic is research and development in the field of technology, innovation, technical education and international cooperation. It brings together leading experts in technical fields, researchers, members of academia and representatives of industrial and public administration, who strive to connect research and development with the application sphere. The aim is also to create tools for the effective application of the latest research and development results in practice and their promotion.