Our Eponym and History

Biography of Donát Bánki

One of the greatest mechanical engineers of his age, Donát Bánki was born in the small village of Bakonybánk on June 6, 1859. He was an internationally recognized professor at the Royal Joseph Technical University of Budapest and a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

When Donát was about 8-9 years old, his father, district physician Ignác Bánki was transferred to the village of Lovászpatona in Veszprém County, where he devoted a lot of time to his children’s education besides his medical work. Donát Bánki mastered some part of even the secondary school curriculum at the family residence, but in the end he completed his secondary studies in Budapest. Then he matriculated to the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Technical University and graduated in 1881. He was only a fourth-year student when he won the first competition with his study on gas engines.

He commenced engineering activities in industrializing Hungary after completing his tertiary studies. In the first year, he was employed as a designer at the Hungarian Royal State Railway Machine Works, then he worked for the Ganz and Co. Iron Casting and Machine Works for 17 years (including two years of designership at the Technical University). He started his career as a designer, becoming head of department and finally engineer-in-chief in the last 8 years. During this period, he contributed to the design of the Budapest corn elevator and Mechwart’s plough, and he pursued considerable patent activities in the areas of gas engines and internal combustion engines. This was the period when his perhaps most well-known invention, the Bánki-Csonka carburettor was patented.

In 1899, he was invited as professor to Department II of Mechanical Construction Engineering (Machine Elements and Hoisting Engines) of Joseph Technical University in Budapest, and in 1900 he took over the lead of Department III of Mechanical Construction Engineering (Hydraulics and Hydraulic Machinery) seceded from the former. In 1901, volumes I and II of his university lecture notes titled “Practical Hydraulics and Hydraulic Machinery” were published based on his lectures by Vilmos Misángyi and Miklós Hoffmann.

In 1902, his front wheel drive automobile was completed, realizing his new idea, intended to eliminate the problems of rear wheel drives which were in general use at that time. For the automobile designed by him and manufactured at the Ganz Works, the engine, the gear shift, and the differential gear were built into a single block and mounted on the axis of the front wheels.

After his study trip to the USA in 1908, he became interested in aviation. As he stressed in the 1913 volume of the official journal of the Hungarian Aviation Association titled “Mechanical Steering of Aeroplanes”, “Air travel can only be safe if it can be steered by mechanical equipment…” In order to develop this, he designed and patented a hydraulic servo engine stabilizer in 1909.

He was elected a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and on December 16, 1912, he held his inaugural address titled “Fluid motion in bent conduits”. In 1916, his book titled “Energy Transformations in Fluids” was published, becoming a basic design manual. The Engineering Association rewarded the work by a Cserháti Award and the Gold Medal of the Association. The book was also published in German at the Springer Publishing House in Berlin in 1922.

After the turn of the century, there was considerable interest in the utilisation of hydraulic power, specially that of streams and rivers of small and medium fall. Bánki designed a simple and cheap turbine, presented in a manuscript titled “Neue Wasserturbine” in 1917, and in the Millers Journal in Hungarian in 1918.

Outstanding in volume among the works of Donát Bánki is the design of Vaskapu hydro-electric power station.

In addition to his remarkable machine design and patent-related activities, Donát Bánki was also highly devoted to professorship. It was a priority for him to assist his students preparations by lecture notes.

During his professorship, he introduced laboratory training in engineering education.

The oeuvre and works of Donát Bánki are greatly admired by posterity. The scientist died on August 1, 1922, leaving 136 foreign and domestic publications to posterity. His career can serve as an example for all engineers and members of the creative technical intelligentsia.

Our History

The history of our school dates back to 1879, foudation of the Public Secondary Industrial School of Budapest. The industrial and economic boom following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise required that secondary vocational specialists and foremen be trained. It was also high time for tradesmen to be further trained. The Public Secondary Industrial School of Budapest, established by Minister of Religion and Public Education Ágoston Trefort, was intended for this dual purpose; it operated under the name Hungarian Royal Public Higher Industrial School from 1898.

The legendary Higher Industrial School – the Tech, as it became known internationally – set an example to successors by creating concordance between high-standard theoretical and practical training. In the building designed by Alajos Hauszman, described as the “palace of Hungarian industries” by the Chronicler of Pesti Napló, the most excellent professors of the age transmitted their knowledge to the young, including Lajos Petrik, Géza Jalsoviczky, Illés Aladár Edvi, Ödön Faragó, Ödön Lencz, Dániel Arany, just to mention the most important ones.

The first principal of the school was Károly Hegedűs. A world-famous student was József Galamb , designer of the FORD Model T.

It was a great honour that the school had great success (winning a “grand prix” award) at the 1900 Paris World Fair. Similarly outstanding was the success of the involvement of professors and special instructors of the school in the organisation of the 1906 Milan World Fair and in the production of exhibits.

In the years after the turn of the century – perhaps because of the results achieved – the numbers of applicants, students admitted and students graduated grew rapidly.

The Higher Industrial School undertook a sad task between 1914 and 1916. As a consequence of wartime incidents, the mechanical workshops of the institute joined military service and produced bullets for the army.

The Great Depression of 1929 had a severe impact on the school as well. Education continued with enormous financial problems, assisted by donations. Slow positive developments were interrupted by the subsequent war.

As a result of educational reforms following World War II, the school provided training and education as a secondary school of mechanics. At the ceremony of the 75th anniversary of its foundation, the institution adopted the name of Donát Bánki, one of the most outstanding mechanical engineers of 20th-century Hungary, and a professor of international reputation at Joseph Technical University. Both the professors and the students at the institution were always proud to declare themselves to be active participants in this creative workshop, spreading the goodwill of the school both domestically and abroad, in the whole wide world.

Pursuant to the 1969 law-decree granting college rank, the college is assigned to the following: to train technical specialists suitable for controlling technical preparations for machine industry production, manufacturing process design, design and production of simple manufacturing tools, and the operation of manufacturing and assembly plants and their equipment. From 1991, the name of the institution was modified to Donát Bánki Technical College by broadening the educational profile, ensuring that engineers have a wide range of professional skills and state-of-the art information.

Pursuant to Act LII of 1999 by the National Assembly on the transformation of the institutional network in tertiary education, by the integration of

  • Donát Bánki Technical College,
  • Kálmán Kandó Technical College, and
  • The Technical College of Light Industry,

Budapest Tech was established on January 1, 2000.
Following changes in assignments and the educational system, the name of the faculty was changed to Óbuda University, Donát Bánki Faculty of Mechanical and Safety Engineering on January 1, 2007.

The Doctoral School of Applied Informatics at Budapest Tech was accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee in 2009, thereby our college complied with the last condition of becoming a university; so, pursuant to the ruling of the National Assembly, we have continued under the name Óbuda University since January 1, 2010.