There are no such challenges - no matter how difficult - that do not lead to new thinking, new ideas, new knowledge, new solutions, new innovations, and, last but not least, new entrepreneurial spirit.

The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering has been boosted. The orientations outlined in our development strategy of 2019-2025 have proven to be very necessary and welcome; they have already started to show their positive effects in our business and in consolidating the excellent image of our team in the surrounding area. The new management knows this and is committed to continuing the development activities in all areas of FME with full responsibility and dedication. Last year, the COVID -19 pandemic still had a major impact and restricted our activities to some extent, but we have shown and proved that with a well-organised and responsible approach it is possible to carry out lecturing in the classrooms and laboratories and conduct research smoothly. We are proud that we have implemented the RVT conditions for the entry of a large number of FME students and staff helped by a high-tech device developed with the knowledge, staff, and infrastructure of FME. In doing so, we proved to ourselves and the surrounding community that there are no such challenges – no matter how difficult – that do not lead to new thinking, new ideas, new knowledge, new solutions, new innovations, and, last but not least, new entrepreneurial spirit.

The new academic year required thorough preparation, as the study process began in both undergraduate programmes (Professional higher and University) and the Master’s programme according to the revised curricula. Last year, special attention was given to organising the implementation of the Master’s programme, where students enrol in one of the six sub-programmes while having a broad choice of courses at and outside of FME. In this context, we carried out the enrolment, the grouping of students into courses and electives in a very short time during the summer holidays with a special computer algorithm approved by the FME Senate, which considered the balance between the choice of subjects on the one hand and the equal representation of students in each subject on the other. As lectures for Master’s students partly overlap, all lecture halls have been equipped with modern audio-video recording equipment and the contents of lectures are available to students in online classrooms. In addition, the Studo web application was launched in a very short time, allowing students to create a personalised timetable through a single sign-in point, while providing a whole range of additional functionalities for students. With the introduction of such digital solutions, FME is setting new standards and is a role model for other UL members. To attract more excellent high school students to study mechanical engineering, we have introduced “smart” (targeted) communication via digital social media, the creation of short dedicated video content and the revision of the overall presentation of study programmes and activities on FME. All these changes require continuous staff training, which is why we have continued to hold special educational colloquia. The number of incoming (112) and outgoing (35) Erasmus+ student exchanges has returned to pre-pandemic levels, while there were slightly fewer staff exchanges in 2021 due to the pandemic.

We have also renovated the premises where the new OpenLab FME (OLFS) is being built, despite the very restrictive space in the current building. The mission of the OLFS is to create a focal point for student engagement and innovation in engineering at FME. The vision is for every mechanical engineer to become an excellent team player, mentor, innovator, and socially responsible individual who never stops learning. As part of OLFS, student team projects such as the high profile Formula Student and Edvard Rusjan Team, Design Build Fly, will return to FS where students have successfully achieved high profile results at the international level for many years.

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Research activities developed in over thirty laboratories, developing specific cutting-edge knowledge in narrow target areas, have been placed in line with a strategic focus in four research platforms: Factories of the Future, Green and Safe Mobility, Health, and Sustainable Energy. Through its research platforms, FME provides excellence in competences in each of its areas by offering innovative, integrated and evolving solutions to industry and by participating in the coordination of major international research projects.

The volume of research activities is increasing with an upward trend, as evidenced by the following figures:

  • EUR 12 million in R&D revenues,
  • EUR 2.5 million in investments in research equipment and ongoing maintenance,
  • 13 successful applications for Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS)research projects,
  • successful applications for international research projects,
  • 30 % increase in publications (year-on-year) in high-ranking scientific journals (Q1), including 8 articles published in journals with an IF above 7,
  • 27 % increase in net citations (year-on-year) according to the WoS database.
  • 12 awards for outstanding publications given to colleagues under 35.

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Several years of intensive efforts and investments to prepare project documentation and administrative procedures related to the new building were brought to a conclusion by the end of 2021 in cooperation with the Rectorate of UL, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, the Ministry of Science, Higher Education and Sport as well as other government representatives, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia has included the new project FME in the European Cohesion Policy Programme for the period 2021-2027, providing much-needed funding for implementing the project, which with its state-of-the-art facilities and research equipment is recognised as a key project for the green and digital transformation of the Slovenian economy and society.

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Foto: Sadar+Vuga

And it is the above-mentioned encouraging results of our joint efforts that give us the satisfaction of knowing that we are working well and to benefit society. I am therefore even more convinced that the increasingly demanding challenges that the future holds for us will place us alongside the most advanced economies and societies with the new knowledge, original ideas, solutions, and innovations that we create at the UL Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Prof. Mihael Sekavčnik, PhD