The history of Automotive Engineering Training


Unfortunately, we do not know much about the initial period of the Hungarian automotive engineering training. One of the few available information about pre-world war times is that the topic already occurs in the 1898 curriculum: “it allowed students to experiment with gas engines” (Zelovich: The History of the Josephine Technical University…).

Between the two world wars, the ‘Cars’ subject were included as a non-compulsory subject. After the 1940s, the subject was titled ‘Gas Machines and Cars’. The lecturer was probably Ede Kund.

Over the last fifty years, the content and form of education and training have changed a lot and generally evolved.

The next available information about a subject with a topic about vehicles is the ‘Gas Machines and Cars’ subject in the second semester of the 1946-47 school year. We can find the subject in the timetable of the A and C sections of the mechanical engineering class. This was taught by Ede Kund 4 hours a week in III. grade spring semester. He also continued in the next semester in 4 hours a week, which and this also included 4 hours of practice. We do not know the nature of the practice, it could be drawing or laboratory as well. It is interesting to note that Kund Ede also gave “unscheduled” lectures on Road Accident Prevention 2 hours a week in the IV. grade. It is likely that this subject was renamed Automobile Accidents two years later.

With the establishment of the Department of Transport Engineering, including the road group, the number of car themed subjects increased. Many older colleagues may remember the ‘Automotive Electrical Equipment’, ‘Car Experiments’, ‘Vehicle Technology and Materials Testing’, and ‘Garage and Service’ subjects. In addition, military engineers include also had ‘Tracked Armored Vehicles’, ‘Tank Repairs’, ‘Armored Vehicle Design’, ‘Off-Road Vehicles and Towing’, and more similar subjects. It is no coincidence that at that time there were 40-50 hours of student workload per week.

In the 1960s, there were only two institutes that had automotive engineering training: the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the Faculty of Transport Engineering. At this time, the curricula changed quite often. At the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the focus was on constructor training and the specialization had always taken place in the last semesters. During the years, the number of specialization subject hours decreased.

At the Faculty of Transport Engineering, specialists were trained for transport. The curricula were quite different, and the changes in it were much more profound. The first curriculum even included subjects such as Geodesy and Geology. These were soon discontinued, but there was still a significantly higher proportion of organizational and economic curricula. Nevertheless, the total number of hours of mechanical engineering, i.e. automotive subjects, was higher here. This was due to the fact that the choice of the specialization had already taken place at the time of admission, and the basic and foundation training could have been more purposeful.

Later, “early” specialization also provided an opportunity to resolve the over-concentration of subject teaching in the upper grades, and their education could be spread evenly throughout the five years. Interestingly, this did not exacerbate the disadvantages of specialization, as the teaching of general, abstract theoretical subjects also shifted upwards. Because of this, the students’ perspective did not narrow.

This associative curriculum structure, as opposed to the deductive one, also provided an opportunity for some students to graduate with a plant engineering degree after three years of training, similar to the training in chemical engineering. The plant engineering graduates who have graduated most successfully from college could also join the fourth grade without losing a year and obtain a university degree. According to the “quasi-two-stage curriculum” introduced in the fall of 1978, a total of 13 grades were graduated.

The curriculum, which was introduced in the autumn of 1991 restored the deductive structure, so the possibility of separation or involvement was eliminated. This was the case when both society and government demanded this “merit-based” selection, which is particularly favourable in terms of raising the desired level of requirements for a university degree. To meet this need, the government has recently joined the so-called Bologna Convention, which calls for serial, two-stage training.

In the autumn of 2006, the Faculty of Transport Engineering launched the bachelor training under the new system. Unfortunately the BSc training was not based on the English model but on the American one. This means that the teaching of the specialization subjects only started at the last (6th and 7th) semesters in a minimum number of hours.

At the same time, mechanical engineering training at the Faculty of Transport Engineering was abolished. All graduates receive a degree in transport engineering, in which only the name of the specialization indicates the nature of a mechanical engineer: vehicle technology, which will include the professional block of motor vehicles.

The curriculum of the BSc and the curriculum of the second stage, which is the “master’s degree” was made. This included the Vehicle Engineering master training (called Vehicles and Mobile Machinery).

Details of the new form of training can be found on our Education page.

History of the former Department of Automobiles

The predecessor of our department is the IV. Department of Mechanical Engineering headed by Ede Kund. He became an “extraordinary university professor” in 1938, and a year later he also received the title of “public ordinary” teacher. According to the 1945/46 yearbook searched by a colleague of László Muzsnay, the department then had five lecturers: Alajos Lancsarics, an unpaid assistant professor, Tivadar Kiss, an unpaid teaching assistant, Lajos Puhr, a paid trainee, and Vida Vid, an unpaid trainee. Later, the teaching staff was expanded with seven teaching assistants, including Zoltán Mede, István Ratskó and József Takács.

In October 1948, the article of Artúr Balogh was published in the “Autó” magazine, which is the predecessor of today’s “Autósélet” magazine. In this article, he necessitated the start of the “automotive engineer” training and the establishment of the automotive department. According to an article in December 1949 in the Autó, this happened: the IV. Department of Mechanical Engineering, which was led by the retiring Ede Kund, was renamed to Gas Machines and Cars.

Jurek Aurél took over the management of the department as Acting Head of Department, and from September 1950 as a university professor. The teaching staff was supplemented by such well-known people as György Dezsényi, Károly Gampe and Sándor Terplán. By the way, this year is also important because it was the first time in Hungary that automotive engineering diplomas were awarded: 16 colleagues received it. The first one was received by Tamás Szirtes, and a copy of the degree can be seen in the mini-museum on the ground floor of building J. Some other well-known collegues also got their degree in this year, for example Ágoston Körmendy, Imre Kabai and Ferenc Sidó.

A year later, the Faculty of Military Engineering set up another car themed department, which was led by Sándor Bartalomeidesz, an engineering colonel. This was the Department of Armored and Motor Vehicles.

The two car departments brotherly shared the invited speakers: both “civilians” and soldiers were taught by such well-known professionals as Alfréd Balló, Béla Feledy, Károly Jordán, Tivadar Kiss, Ernő Kovácsházy, Pál Réti and Jenő Tömösy .

After four years another car department was established: the agonizing University of Transport Technology in Szolnok was trying to set up a department of motor vehicle structure under the leadership of Sándor Terplán. However, this department ceased after one year, because the University of Transport Technology dissoluted. The department was joined to ÉKME as the Faculty of Transport Operations. To be more precise, it merged with the Department of Gas and Automotive Engineering in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, which once again became the only automotive department in the country, because the Faculty of Military Engineering was abolished.

A few years later, the Faculty of Transport Engineering became so strong that in 1961 it was considered timely to set up its own automotive department.

Zoltán Lévai was commissioned to organize the Department of Motor Vehicles. In 1968, the year following the union of the two technical universities in Budapest, the vehicle engineering training of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering was transferred to the Faculty of Transport Engineering together with its specialist and departments.

In 1969, the two car department in the faculty, were merged. This partially happened because Professor Jurek was 65 years old at the time.

The next organizational change happened after ten years. The three vehicle engineering departments (the Department of Aeronautics and Thermal Engineering (later Aircraft and Ships) the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Railway Vehicles) formed the Institute of Vehicle Engineering.

This era ended in 1995. The faculty council abolished the Institute, and the departments “regained” their independence.

By the way, in addition to the ones mentioned earlier, Professor Lajos Ilosvai (1979 – 1986) headed the department of motor vehicles for a while (during the time of Zoltán Lévai’s dean’s office and institute directorate).

In 1994 when Professor Lévai became 65 years old, László Palkovics, who founded the research and development institute of Knorr-Bremse Kft., became the new Head of Department. However, in 2002, due to his long-term employment abroad, he did not request an extension of his term.

The new Head of Department was Gábor Melegh, who was also a student of Professor Lévai, just like László Palkovics was. Gábor Melegh was an internationally recognized forensic expert.

It is not possible to list here all the lecturers who have ever worked in the department, but we remember the names of those who have already left the ranks: Gábor Bánhidi, Jenő Bujtor, Kálmán Dezső, Sándor Gellérthegyi, Zsigmond Habuda, László Hodvógner Fauszto, Imreh Sándor, Sándor Imre, Ternai Zoltán, Terplán Sándor.