Once upon a time....
The history of the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague is derived from the beginnings of chemistry teaching in the Czech lands. Basic instruction in alchemy-related disciplines was provided as early as the 14th century, at the time of the foundation of Prague University in 1348. The disciplines of practical chemistry began to separate from alchemy in the course of the 15th and 16th centuries but it was only at the end of the 18th century that the teaching of natural sciences was included in classes for students of medicine.
At that time, some 60 iron and 80 glass works were in operation in the Czech lands. The oldest Czech chemical factory produced sulphuric and nitric acids, and highly developed textile production made use of bleaching and dying processes. This situation led to the foundation of the Prague Polytechnic. The instruction in two departments, mathematical and chemical, was launched in 1806. In addition to general chemistry, teaching at the chemical department also embraced practical chemistry focused on the glass industry, metallurgy, bleaching and dying. In the course of time, the range of subjects was extended with brewery, sugar industry, analytical chemistry, chemical analysis of minerals and technical gases, and other fields.
In the 19th century, a number of outstanding professors taught at the chemical department of the Prague Polytechnic. The first professor of chemistry was Karl Augustin Neumann. Professor Vojtěch Šafařík, the son of a prominent figure of the Czech National Revival, wrote the first Czech university chemistry textbook published in 1860 and he created the Czech chemical nomenclature by introducing specific Czech suffixes which clearly indicated different oxidation states. This nomenclature has been used until the present time.
An extraordinary increase in the standard of chemistry teaching and scientific research in the first third of the 20th century was closely linked with Professor Emil Votoček. He was the leading figure of the Institute of Chemical Technology, one of the seven sections of the Czech Technical University, which emerged from the reorganization of the Prague Polytechnic in 1920. Together with Jaroslav Heyrovský, professor of chemistry at Charles University who won in 1959 the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Professor Votoček founded the journal “Collection of Czechoslovak Chemical Communications” which has been publishing scientific papers by Czech and foreign authors in English until today. At the time of professor Votoček’s teaching, the Institute of Chemical Technology turned out a number of outstanding chemists, among them Professor Otto Wichterle, the inventor of soft contact lenses in the 1950s. Vladimír Prelog, professor at the ETH Zürich who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1975, graduated from Prague’s Institute of Chemical Technology in 1928, and he gained his PhD degree there several years later.
The Institute of Chemical Technology was detached from the Czech Technical University in 1952, turning into the current independent Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague.
On 1.1.2015 was the “Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague’ (ICT Prague)” renamed on “University of Chemistry and Technology Prague (UCT Prague)”.