At the end of WWI, Slovenia was the most electrically well-developed part of the new country called the ‘State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’. For this reason, studies of technology, and in particular electrical engineering, were organised during the establishment of the new Slovenian University.
It all started with the advanced course in technology, which began with the formal opening lecture ‘The engineer, the philosopher, and the machine-giant’. The lecture was given by the famous electrical engineer Milan Vidmar PhD on 19 May 1919. Vidmar established and maintained a very strong influence on the electrical engineering study programme for over 30 years.
The Slovenian University (including a Technical Faculty with an Electrical Engineering Department) was founded in Ljubljana on 23 July 1919.
Autumn 1921 saw the completion of the new building for the Technical Faculty in Aškerčeva cesta. This building provided the Electrical Engineering Institute (‘Elektroinštitut’) with an excellent workspace and laboratories. Courses were started and, in 1925, the first four electrical engineers successfully graduated.
Between the wars, Professor Vidmar was the guiding light of the Electrical Engineering Department. He published many academic papers and was one of the world’s leading experts on large transformers. Consequently, the concepts for all large transformers of both leading European manufacturers (Siemens, AEG) were developed in Ljubljana at the time.
During WWII, education and research work at the Electrical Engineering Department almost died; many people joined and fought within the national liberation movement (‘NOB’). In 1941, electrical engineering students operated the illegal radio transmitter “Kričač”, which spread the free word in Ljubljana - in the heart of occupied Europe - for more than five months. This was followed by the production of transmitters for Partisan units, while several students and 2 teachers also joined the Partisan movement.
After the war, the Faculty was brought back to life. In the academic years 1945/46, graduation reached four times the pre-war average; the number of graduates increased to 118 compared to the pre-war 31. Under the guidance of Professors Lasič and Gruden, electronics developed rapidly. Previously, only Professor Osana had been developing this subject within the Electrical Engineering Department. With the rise in the number of students and the growth of scientific and development work - an accommodation crisis became evident. After many temporary solutions (i.e. barracks, dislocated units), the Institute of Electrical Engineering acquired new premises, including space for the electrical engineering department, in 1957.
In 1958, a large lecture theatre which could accommodate 228 students was built in Tržaška cesta. Six years later (1964), a modern building for power engineering sciences was constructed at the same location. Thus, 19 years after the war ended, the problem of facilities was finally resolved. Nevertheless, continued growth meant that work and living soon became cramped again, especially for the electronics department. The problem was eventually resolved by moving the department to an extension in Tržaška cesta in 1972. This merger also represented the physical unification of the electrical engineering facilities.
So what was the organization of electrical engineering studies in Ljubljana like after 1945? Initially, the Department of Electrical Engineering was part of the Faculty of Technology; in 1950 the University College of Technology was founded as a separate institution which included the faculty of Electrical Engineering. This was the situation until 1955 when, once again, a Faculty of Technology was founded as part of the University and this subsumed the Department of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. In 1957, a joint Faculty of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (FES) was established, which lasted until 1960, when the two disciplines finally acquired their own faculties.