What is the Croatian Association of Technical Culture (CATC)?
The Croatian Association of Technical Culture (CATC) is the highest national institution in the field of technical culture in the Republic of Croatia and consists today of 17 national associations, 19 county and 35 city technical culture communities, and more than 600 associations of technical culture with over 60.000 members. In 2016 it marked 70 years of its activity with numerous manifestations and festivities. CATC members can in their mission and content be technical-hobbyist (these are mostly the communities and centers of technical culture, the Croatian Ship Modelers’ Association, Croatian Astronautical and Rocketry Association, Croatian Astronomical Union, Croatian Robotic Association, associations which are the members of the aforementioned associations or are active in the aeronautical field, amateur radio, amateur modeling, car modeling and others), technical-sporting (Croatian Aeronautical Federation, Croatian Canoe Federation, Croatian Sailing Association, Croatian Diving Association and associations oriented towards sailing or diving), artistic-technical (Croatian Film Clubs’ Association and Croatian Photographic Union and their associations), inventor, informatics or professional.
In associations of technical enthusiasts, both in the last century and today, scientists, engineers and technicians contribute to the gaining of knowledge and skills and the increase of the level of technical culture, as well as the stimulation of technique in manufacturing and everyday life, through promotional-enlightening activities, technical literacy and education programs for citizens, publishing and stimulating construction and innovation. The regular school system and specific educational programs cannot, in a short amount of time, offer to a large number of participants the knowledge and skills necessary for the use of technical, economic and other potentials, and enable a large number of young people to form their inclinations and abilities, and the choice of educational programs for technical and research-oriented vocations. On the other hand, associations devoted to technical content can assure this, because they are organized in order to provide their users the chance for gathering of technical knowledge and skills, and the development and confirmation of their abilities, as well as the implementation of ideas and creativity.
According to the Law on Technical Culture (Official Gazette, 76/1993) the basic tasks of the Croatian Association of Technical Culture are to: stimulate and promote all the activities of technical culture; participate in articulating the policy for promotion of technical culture, propose the public needs programs of the Republic of Croatia in the field of technical culture; harmonize the activities of national associations in technical culture in the realization of the development of technical culture; stimulate research and care for the education of employees in technical culture; develop extra-curricular and extra-educational activities of children and youth, educate and qualify citizens and publish materials.
Among the numerous achievements of CATC are the following:
1. The forming of the associations of technical culture as an important source of knowledge, skills and abilities enables citizens of all age groups and abilities a voluntary and organized creative and recreational engagement in different contents, aids in the professional orientation and education or additional education, stimulates innovativeness, entrepreneurship and other values.
2. Associations, national associations and CATC pay special attention to the extra-curricular education of youth. The extra-educational and extra-curricular activities in modeling, sailing, robotics, aeronautical activities, amateur radio, informatics and economics, and photography and film, influenced the modernization of the curriculum and the achievement of the pedagogic and social purpose of compulsory schooling. In the last decade almost 17% of the referential part of the students in Croatian primary and secondary schools participated in activities of the technical-informatics, natural scientific, economic and film-making fields of technological culture. A large number of Croatian experts and more than three quarters of activity managers participated in them during their primary and secondary schooling, and almost four tenths of younger scientists achieved significant success in competitions at that age. In the past fifteen years, school cooperatives stand out among the extra-curricular activities, both in primary and secondary schools, and in centers that work with special needs children and youth.
Through its ICT school, adjusted to all ages and organizing and conducting workshops, CATC itself participates in educating youth, including gifted individuals and special needs children, as well as lifelong learning.
CATC has by now organized and conducted the state competition of young technicians of the Republic of Croatia 49 times, and it is with great enthusiasm that it is initiating the organization of the 50th competition. Gifted students from all over the country, which demonstrated their knowledge and skills in different areas of technical culture, participated in the previous competitions.
3. The contribution to the popularization of science and technique is important. Linked to the tradition of national enlightenment in the 19th century, CATC has through its publishing activity and the activity of the Board for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge “Nikola Tesla”, and the body for the popularization and scientific and technical education of youth, practiced popularization as an articulation of complex scientific and technical issues in a simple manner. The Publishing Department of CATC has been active since September 1st 1966, which has by now published more than 1.200 editions in a total number of over 15 million issues. The most significant is the magazine “ABC tehnike” (ABC of Technology), published regularly from 1957 in over 500 copies on a monthly basis.
4. Research-oriented members of technological culture associations created original internationally recognized achievements and were the bearers of new tendencies in professional activities in Croatia. The best innovators, informatics experts and young photographers achieved a number of successes in international competitions.
The progress of photography in Croatia from 1910 to 1960 depended almost exclusively on photo-amateurs, who in the 1940s – preoccupied by social-criticism issues and paying attention to the rural, folkloric and typical landscape – created a particular national style, acknowledged and known throughout the world as the Zagreb School of Photography.
The achievements of cinema-amateurs are a key part of the corpus of Croatian cinematography from the beginning of World War II, and during the 1960s it generated a distinctive children’s film.
It is well known that numerous inventions of Croatian innovators were turning points in technical and technological development, and that their application had significant economic effects. Through the application of their own innovations, the Croatian inventors-entrepreneurs founded several renowned companies.
In the past fifteen or so years Croatia has a large number of young informatics experts that successfully represent Croatia in international informatics competitions with their software solutions.
5. The contribution of technical culture to the defense of Croatian freedom and independence was well recognized. Since the beginning of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and the Serbian aggression on the Republic of Croatia, close to 10.000 members of associations, which are the members of national associations (45% of their active membership) participated in this defense, according to incomplete data, 1.800 of which were wounded while more than 200 gave their lives for the country’s freedom. They made up the core of the first units for communications, diversions, the first pilots of the Croatian Air Force; they were the producers of weapons and equipment, photographic and film chronicle makers, the participants of humanitarian actions, organizers of civilian life, etc. On the other hand, representatives of the associations informed and animated the international public, asking for help and international recognition of the sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia, through specially organized projects in international arenas.
6. Finally, CATC is active in improving the work of it members, it participated in the formulation of the Law on Technical Culture and the sub-statutory act, which regulates the determining and financing of public needs programs of the Republic of Croatia in technical culture, enabled the drafting of verified programs of young technicians’ clubs and school cooperatives (1995).
CATC opened a modernly equipped National Technical Culture Center in Kraljevica on May 18th 2005, enabling it and its members to conduct diverse programs in technical culture. This multi-purpose center enables the meeting of associations, exchange of experiences and organization of workshops and seminars from different fields of technological culture (informatics, robotics, ship modeling, car modeling, aeronautical and rocket modeling) during the entire year. Within the Center there is a laboratory for radio amateurs, a photo lab and a film studio, and visitors have the opportunity to try diving, canoeing, rowing, and in the summertime, bathing on the nearby seashore.