Lukáš Chaloupka

When did you graduate from FEE?
I graduated from FEE in 2012 with the Master of Science in the field of high-current electronics. 

What study program did you study at FEE?
As a bachelor, I chose Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, and I continued my follow-up master studies in Industrial and Power Electronics. I changed the study field because power electronics was more attractive for me and, in my eyes, even better applicable in practice. 

Why did you decide to study at FEE in Pilsen?
Initially, I planned to study the same field at FEE in Prague, part of CTU. But when I learned from my high school classmates that they would try their luck at the entrance exams and in Pilsen, I joined them. After the entrance exams at these schools, where I was accepted to both, I finally decided to go to Pilsen. I liked the city and the Faculty much more. There was already a new FEE building in Bory, which in my opinion, with its facilities and nice campus, attracts many future students, and it was also my case. 

How would you evaluate the approach and support from the school? Teachers, guarantors of courses?
Even though it has been nine years since my graduation, I have only good memories and experiences from my school years. I remember that the lecturers were always willing to share their knowledge. In case of any proactivity on the part of the student, it was possible to arrange individual or collective tutorials beyond our schedule. In my opinion, the general rule for all students was that whoever wanted and were interested in mastering the course, the Faculty or the teachers were always very forthcoming."   

How would you evaluate the approach and support from the Study Office? 
I also have only good experience with the Study Office. During my studies, our field was in charge of Mrs. Königsmarková, and with her, we were always able to solve all the essentials and conditions for successful completion. On top, she always managed to entertain us with some funny story and positive motivation. So I remember the Study Office gladly and with a smile. 


How do you retrospectively evaluate the quality of the studied courses? 
In general, I can say that I was satisfied with the content of the study and the courses. Of course, I was most afraid in the first year because I knew that it works like a so-called sieve, and through the main courses, which were mathematics and physics for us, a particular part of us will not pass. 

That is why the curriculum content did not fill me so much and was rather stressful for me due to the complexity. 

In addition, I was not as well prepared for mathematics or physics from the practical secondary school as, for example, high school students. Only over time did I understand why we learned the Laplace transform, integrals, derivatives, etc., right at the beginning of the study, and how an integral part of the later study it is for us. Although I devote myself to a slightly different field today in my professional life, sometimes I return to the curriculum from University when I count essential P, I, D controllers, program PLC or DCS, etc. By that, I mean that the content of some courses was definitely well prepared and is articulated with later practice. After all, for me, as little as a lively course as were Standards and regulations in electrical engineering and standards in general, I often have to rely upon today and look for their wording. 

How do you evaluate the possibility of involvement in R&D activities during your studies at FEE? 
I think that during my studies, there were many opportunities to participate in research projects. I used this option only in the follow-up study in connection with my diploma thesis, where I developed a power exciter of excitation signals for IGBT / IGCT transistors. During my R&D activities, I had excellent school laboratory equipment available, along with technical support from my supervisor whenever I needed it. I often sat in the lab until late in the evening and tested. 

Did you work while studying? Any internships, involvement in activities at the Faculty, or employment outside the Faculty? 
During my studies, I think I once took part in a part-time job for FEE, where I wound transformers according to the assignment. But it was only for a short time. Instead, I worked outside of school for an Internet service company or in the construction business. But I believe that nowadays, when RICE is part of FEE, there are undoubtedly many more opportunities and projects for the Faculty than, for example, in 2006, when I started at the University.   

Did the UWB / FEE help you develop your skills for future careers - domestic and foreign internships, language courses, etc.? Can you give an example? 
I went to more language courses, which I then greatly appreciated at work. I went to advanced English focused on technique and presentation skills and German - basic level. I still work with languages at work and use them actively every day at work at ABB. 

Is there something that you lacked in the scope of study concerning future employment in the labor market? 
I probably missed more courses related to project management and management in general (principles, functions, and hierarchy of large companies). Courses focused on communication, soft skills, the art of selling, etc., would also be suitable. However, this is probably more of a choice of field and optional courses. But I wouldn't change the area even if I had the opportunity to choose again. For me, it was a perfect entry into high-current and industrial electrical engineering, which I still devote myself up to today. 

How did you look for a job after graduation? 
I mostly searched through the Jobs.cz portal. At that time, I was not yet sure in which city I actually wanted to work and live. Ideally, I was looking for a job partly abroad. Because during my studies, I did not have time to use Erasmus - studying abroad.

How long did it take you to find a job after graduation? 
After graduating in June 2012, I attended about two job interviews. One was in Prague as a tester of power units in the industry. The second position was the controller of the correct wiring of railway vehicles. There were quite a few job opportunities, but I wasn't sure that they were the ones I expected from the world of work. As a recent graduate, I was probably too demanding 😊 

So I took another month off and finally found a job through an acquaintance at the University in a company dealing with the design and implementation of control systems in energy at the ABB Operations Center in Pilsen, and I still work there today. 

I started my job in September 2012. So it took me about two months to find a job. But I must admit that I would find a job almost immediately after graduation with a little more effort.  

Do you work in the region where you come from?
I work in another region. I come from Litoměřice in the north of Bohemia, and I finally stayed in Pilsen. Although I lived abroad for the first five years at ABB, and I was in Pilsen about 14 days a year, which was exactly what I was looking for after graduating from FEE.  

What was your position at ABB, and what were your first days in the company? 
I started as an engineer for commissioning ABB control systems for thermal power plants. Thanks to this position, I traveled almost worldwide in the first five years at ABB. After joining the company, my main task was to get together my travel documents and compulsory vaccinations needed to Brazil. In less than a week, I was already sitting on a plane to Fortaleza. There was a great 3-month business trip waiting for me, which I still remember with pleasure. 

Do you work in the field you studied? 
I work in a slightly different field. However, I used a lot of knowledge from school: e.g., control - basic control circuit, basics of programming, functions, and control of synchronous machines - generator. Of course, I still had to learn a lot of knowledge. I know that, for example, the field of Electrical Engineering and Power Engineering at FEE was much closer to the study content of my starting position. Still, you never know in advance in which field you will work one day and which job offer will be the most interesting for you in the end. 

What position do you work in now? 
I am currently working as a System Team Leader. The team I'm in charge of is 10 people, but it's still expanding. It deals with the preparation of a virtual environment for the installation of ABB control systems. Related to this are other activities such as cyber security, testing of new software versions ABB, L4 - R&D - development, product support - L3, Service and last but not least digitization (eCloud, Qradar, Optimax, etc.). 

How do you see the work in this position from your point of view? 
It is a job that requires great responsibility, and not only for projects but also for team members. I try to make sure that everyone works on the tasks closest to them, so they enjoy the work and correspond to the goals set in the annual interviews. All this must go hand in hand with customer requirements. It is a great challenge for me to fulfill all my tasks and the expectations of others; however, I enjoy the work, and it satisfies me, and I do not mind devoting some overtime here and there to the company, even though I already have my family. I know that even if I need to take suddenly unplanned leave, I can do so. 

What is your driving force for working at ABB, and how do you recharge your batteries after hours? Do you manage to combine work and leisure activities? 
Sometimes it was tough to combine personal life and activities, especially abroad during commissioning, where it was common to work overtime, including weekends. But since, for example, in Africa in Angola, there was not much to do in the middle of an oil refinery, somehow I didn't even mind much, and I enjoyed the work. Today it is entirely different. I'm mainly in Pilsen, I have a family, we build our own house, and I make sure that my work is separate from my private life, and I have kept a certain balance between the two. And so far, I'm doing well.

What is your prospect for future career development? 
At ABB, I like that the opportunities for career development and growth are almost limitless. The ABB Operations Center, which is based, among other things, in Pilsen, has about 550 employees in the Czech Republic with a wide range of all possible fields from automation, design, and commissioning, electrical system, and drives, through software development to supply chain and project management. 

I recently switched to the management and leadership of a team of people, where I get used to a slight turn away from engineering and a gradual transition to planning and leading projects, financial budgets, and the development of the entire team. It's a change for me, but it's definitely nice. I plan to personally develop with my team in digitization and cybersecurity, which have recently become more and more current and demanded by customers. We currently support local ABB units in about 15 countries, and my goal is to expand this support further. Other goals are still unknown to me, but I'm already looking forward to where my career will take me. 


What do you think is the most significant benefit of studying at FEE? 
In my opinion, it is mainly the ability and way of thinking that I took away from FEE. Probably because studying was quite difficult for me, I learned to get down to challenging tasks and not be afraid to ask others for advice or help. The team works better than independently, and with diligence and effort, it is possible to achieve great goals. 

How do you evaluate the overall level and quality of education obtained at the UWB / FEE? 
I rate the overall level of study as very good. I think that the quality of education at FEE is well known to companies in the Czech Republic, and that is why recent graduates don't have a problem finding a job. 

Would you recommend FEE to those interested in studying, and why? 
Yes, I would, because I think there will always be great interest in technically educated people in the labor market. Even from information from my former classmates, I know that the vast majority of FEE graduates have a promising career ahead of them. In addition, I am still in contact with some former classmates who still work at FEE, and I like the opportunities they have there, for example, to work for RICE, interesting projects for external companies, etc. 

Do you have any advice for candidates who want to find a job according to their ideas? 
Above all, I would advise you not to hurry or stress because you can stay in the Labor office for a month while you go for interviews and look for the ideal job. There are some pros and cons in every company and job position. For me, the benefits and salary evaluation were not always the most important. More important is always a certain balance between salary evaluation, work team, and job description. Sometimes I meet at interviews with the fact that recent graduates are mainly interested in how much, in which company they get more money than what the company expects from them for the money and what their job will be. Money is not the primary aspect of a happy career. They are rather a secondary reward for doing something you enjoy, like being in your work team, and this usually goes hand in hand with good work results. Last but not least, it also brings a good salary.