For many years he was the director of the Institute of Materials Science and Engineering (1998 - 2019). In 2002-2006, he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, TUL, and as the Vice-Rector for Innovation in the term 2012-2016. For eight years, starting from 2003, he was the president of the Academic Sports Association in Łódź. Recently, the professor has been fascinated by the culture of golf.
Professor Kula, what qualities do you think a golf player should have?
A golfer should be calm, cultivated, and athletic. These are the qualities that I myself have been perfecting. I never stop working on my composure and focus - that is within my reach. As for physical fitness - in my category of older "juniors" – it’s not all rosy. Golf is a beautiful sport. My interest in it has emerged through business contacts with partners from the United States, where golf is a way of life.
Golf is also, contrary to the popular opinion, an extremely exciting sport, especially when your swings do not come out as they intended. Playing 18 holes on the golf course means 5 hours of play, physical effort, contact with nature, staying outdoors, and a lot of excitement.
Golfers have a peculiar style – there is a whole different etiquette. To join the club and become a professional golfer you need to get the green card. In order to do that, you need to pass an exam on the rules of golf and the etiquette. I now play only for pleasure, most often at the "Kalinowe Pola" golf club in the Lubuskie voivodeship. In our region, the nearest golf course is in Pabianice, yet it is very small, narrow, and wooded.
For many years, you were the president of the Academic Sports Association (AZS) in Łódź. How many years in total did you hold this post?
My first experience in sports organization dates back to when I was still a university student. I was the president of the Lodz University of Technology AZS Club. That adventure came to an end when I had concluded my five-year degree program at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Much later, in 2003, after almost 30 years, I was elected president of the Academic Sports Association in Łódź. For eight years, as a volunteer, I was deeply involved in many sports investments in Łódź, including the renovation of the athletic stadium in Lumumby Street, as well as in coaching children and young people. During my tenure, Piotr Kędzia, an Olympic athlete, competed in the colors of AZS Łódź.
Being the president of AZS, I strongly lobbied for the construction of the Sports Center of Lodz University of Technology, with an olympic-size, 50-meter swimming pool. I like sports, I like organizing and making myself available to provide support. I believe that talented young athletes need to be nurtured and supported. I have never stopped encouraging people to do sports. Recently, I have agreed to serve on the board of the ‘Anilana’ School Sports Club where handball players are trained.
Two years ago, the General Board of AZS, in recognition of my activism granted me honorary membership of AZS.
What sports did you practice in your youth? How did sport influence your professional career?
In my youth, when I was still in high school, I played basketball in the sports club MKS Pałac, and then, at university, in the AZS TUL club. I practiced basketball several times a week, participated in league games and national championships of universities of technology. I was the president the TUL sports club at that time, which inspired my later organizational activities. Sport is the best character-forming thing. It teaches you to be tenacious and strive for excellence. Despite my health problems I still ski, swim, and dive. I try to live an active life.
It is part of my nature to seek change, novelty. As an engineer and innovator, I always approach problems creatively, asking if anything can be done differently. I have had that attitude for years. Creative innovation is very much needed in materials engineering which I do research on. I have a drive to create. Exploration is my life and day-to-day reality. Sometimes your entire thought process needs to be reversed for you to realize what the best solution is.
It gives me pride that I am an engineer because engineering is a majority of activities: from basic research, through applied research, to the final application.
Traveling is another great passion of yours. What trip has been the most memorable to you?
The world is a beautiful place. I have come to appreciate traveling while pursuing my professional passion. There can't be any scientific or business growth without travel. I love discovering new places. I like to arrange my trips myself.
I have traveled nearly all over the world, but what I most often think of is visiting the United States which I have come to know very well because of my business contacts. In total, I have been to the USA as many as 14 times. I have visited 17 states.
My fondest memories are of the trip I made three years ago with my wife. It was an expedition along the trail of the frontiersmen and frontierswomen of the Wild West. I drove across the United States from Chicago to California, visited 12 National Parks, and crossed 10 states. In four weeks, we drove a total of 5,500 miles. My wife was the pilot. It was a great trip.
Professor, why is it worth having a passion in life?
When you have a passion, it's as if you had a second, a third, and another life. When something doesn't go well in one, you have somewhere you can take refuge in, and right away! You want to be curious about the world and people.
As an innovation mentor, I have found that when it comes to new technologies, we are always trying to catch up with the world and it is slipping away from us. I believe we should stop the chase and start running away, so that others would start following us. Maybe not on the whole front, but in what we are best at. I have always been open to networking, it' s what opens the world for us. Any new foreign language you learn means a new life. That is what gives us opportunities for unconventional growth.
In my opinion, if you don't truly follow your passion, you'd be better off not pursuing it at all.