Prof. Ing. Vlastimil Křupka, DrSc.
Period of time with the company: 1959 - 2009
Professor Vlastimil Křupka was born in Kroměříž in 1927. He graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Brno University of Technology after passing the state examination in 1950. He joined the Department of Elasticity and Strength of Materials of VUT as a teaching assistant, and he qualified as a senior university lecturer at the Military Academy (VAAZ) in 1958. He was appointed professor in 1968. In 1981, he was appointed a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences, and an academician in 1987.
Professor Křupka dedicated a great part of his very active life to collaboration with manufacturing engineering companies, in particular VÍTKOVICE, a.s., where he was a member of the CEO’s scientific council. Several years of collaboration with the Department of Elasticity and Strength of Materials of the Military Academy in Brno, in particular in the field of giant mining equipment, led to the establishment of a computing centre at the Department in 1959, to which first VÍTKOVICE employees were admitted . In 1965 the computing centre was incorporated into the VÍTKOVICE Research Institutes under the name of the Institute of Applied Mechanics in Brno, and Professor Křupka was appointed its Head.
Under the leadership of Professor Křupka, the Institute became an indispensable tool for designers and engineers of manufacturing companies. He significantly promoted the development of professional knowledge of the Institute’s employees, and a proactive approach to customer needs. The results of the tasks that were dealt with had to be applicable in the manufacturing industry, in particular in the development of new products. The carried-out analyses of defects of mechanical equipment and steel structures had to result in finding the causes of their occurrence, and in reducing the likelihood of their recurrence. Under the guidance of Prof. Křupka, the Institute became a leading organization in the field of applied mechanics not only in Czechoslovakia, but also internationally, in particular thanks to its contribution to increased reliability of pressure systems and steel structures, and reduced likelihood of failure occurrence. He also supported the development of experimental methods. A testing laboratory was established as a part of the Institute, which was equipped with advanced testing equipment, and performed very demanding measurements. Measurement results often determined the success of operations carried out, such as the relocation of a church in Most, transportation of bulky parts, or their assembly.
Under the guidance of Prof. Křupka, the Institute was dealing with state tasks of fundamental research, industry and business challenges, while the solution results were applied in practice when developing new process equipment, such as giant machines for coal and mineral surface mining, equipment for nuclear and conventional power plants, poles, smoke-stacks, storage tanks, steel structures, transportation equipment, blast furnaces, steel mills and a plurality of others. It is obvious, therefore, that Professor Křupka supported the development of knowledge in the field of mechanics, elasticity and strength of materials applicable in various production areas. At the same time he was attentive in ensuring that the leading Institute employees were treated by the customers as professionals in their field, able to assist regardless of their time availability, exercising considerable independent judgments and personal responsibility in the performance of work tasks.
Professor Křupka was also active as an educator: he was the Head of the Department of Elasticity and Strength of Materials at the Military Academy in Brno, he gave lectures at the Institute of Process and Environmental Engineering at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Brno University of Technology, and he was lecturing at the Institute of Steel and Timber Structures of the Faculty of Civil Engineering. During his lecturing career, he brought up three generations of engineers and designers, and was a tutor for numerous doctoral students, including international students. He had great pedagogical skills and excels in sharing both theoretical and practical knowledge with the students, which they had always appreciated. He published more than 200 scientific publications, of which more than 40 abroad. Therefore, dozens of his theoretical papers were published abroad, including references. Theoretical results and their application were summarized in the book titled "Calculation of cylindrical thin-walled metal containers and piping", which is still being used by today’s experts. He was in particular engaged in the development of the theory of calculation of thin-walled structures, vessels and steel structures, and stability of supporting systems. His scientific publications were used to implement significant shell structures, including the Cukrák and Ještěd TV towers, 125000 m3 storage tanks for diesel in Nelahozeves, pipe lines for VSŽ Košice, Slovnaft, Duslo Šala and Lovosice, parts for giant mining equipment, bifurcations for hydroelectric power plants, etc.
Prof. Křupka won numerous state and corporate awards for the application of theoretical knowledge in the production of new original equipment. When he reached 65, Prof. Křupka decided to pass the leadership of the Institute to his successor with all responsibility. In the 1990s, when it was not viewed as socially desirable to be a technician, or mechanical or civil engineer, it was very important for the Institute that Professor Křupka continued to work in the Institute and contribute with advice and experience to train new young researchers of the Institute. At a time when a lot of similar institutions were dissolved in the Czech Republic, the Institute of Applied Mechanics in Brno, becoming a limited liability company in 1994, was flourishing. Professor Křupka at the same time contributed significantly to overcome the lack of middle-aged generation of professionals in the Institute. Thanks to his contribution, a new generation of professionals, now already in their middle age, has been trained from the then young engineers, who are now able to pass on their experience and knowledge to the new emerging generation.
During his active life, Professor Křupka was a member of scientific councils at the Brno Military Academy, the Accreditation Commission of the Czech Republic, he was a member of the editorial board of the English journal Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and a member of the TWG8.4 working group for European Recommendations in the field of steel structures based in Brussels. He was an active member of the ECCS (European Convention for Construction Steelwork) Committee. He was involved in the transfer of EU norms to ČSN EN standards in the field of steel structures, vessels and tanks. Professor Křupka was excellent in his approach to human needs of the Institute’s employees, and tolerance of their viewpoints. He led the Institute through various periods that were difficult from the social point of view, but nobody was ever dismissed from the Institute, or removed from his/her office, because of his/her social viewpoints.
Professor Křupka ended his active work in 2009.
He was Managing Director of the Company from 1959 to 1962, and from 1966 to 1991.