WŁADYSŁAW EGNER

 

I got to know professor Michał Życzkowski in 1986, when I was a freshmen at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Cracow University of Technology. The professor introduced himself as the tutor of the applied mechanics specialization.

In 1990, I attended professor Życzkowski’s classes on “Stability and Optimization". It was a difficult monographic lecture with a large number of quotations. Already at that time, I was astounded by the professor’s knowledge of names of authors and dates of various publications. Anyway, later on, during conferences, I witnessed many times the admiration inspired by this knowledge. From these lectures, I also remember summaries of lectures in English – an uncommon practice at that time.

After defending my Master’s thesis in 1991, I started to work as an assistant lecturer at the Unit of Mechanics of Deformable Bodies in the Institute of Mechanics and Machine Construction. Professor Życzkowski almost immediately engaged me in the scientific research he was carrying out at the time. These were works related to the optimum shape of structures undergoing total softening at the stage of destruction. Later on, I was worked on this subject area for many years and my doctoral dissertation – written under the supervision of the professor – referred to it.

Scientific work with professor Życzkowski involved constant aid on the part of the professor, consisting in very frequent meetings and suggestions concerning the directions of further works. I was always fascinated by the professor’s conviction that an analysed issue has a solution that can be found. For it was not that obvious as the problems we were dealing with were solved analytically.

I am the last (twenty ninth) doctor promoted by the professor. During graduation ceremonies for the doctoral degrees, the vice-chancellor of the Cracow University of Technology – while reading the name of the supervisor of my thesis and mine – called him a ”Tutor of Young People”, as if to sum up the professor’s activity in this domain. This became embedded in my memory for the following years and it seems to convey well the professor’s attitude towards young scientists. He was in fact a tutor of young research personnel.

The professor also astonished with his skill of performing complex calculations. He often wrote, after a moment’s thought, an equation that was to reflect some impromptu assumptions. The, he suggested we should verify it in writing, which required quite some time, while the final result was identical as the equation predicted by the professor.

Every Tuesday at 11 a.m., the professor held a seminar, to which he often invited lecturers from outside of the Institute. Lecturers presenting their future doctoral or postdoctoral dissertations were also invited to the seminar that was obligatory for the fifth year students of applied mechanics (later renamed to computational mechanics). Almost always, the professor suggested to lecturers at least several different titles on the relevant subject that he usually quoted from memory and indicated those he had in his library and those that can be borrowed from the university library.

 

Professor Życzkowski marked out the path of my research career and he was a true Master for me. He was not only a very respected scientist. He had an exceptional gift of sharing his knowledge and ideas with others. His departure from among us left a huge gap not only in the domain of scientific research.

 

 

 

Dr Władysław Egner

Cracow University of Technology