TOMSK, Dec 3 – RIA Tomsk. Modern education is undergoing global
changes and brings to the fore the individual trajectory of a student's
learning. Irina Kurzina, Executive Director of the TSU Institute of
Smart Materials and Technologies told RIA Tomsk how this is implemented
by Tomsk State University.
As reported on the website of
the Institute of Smart Materials and Technologies, it was created at TSU
as a Strategic Academic Unit (StrAU) within the framework of the
competitiveness program (program 5/100) to form a scientific and
educational center for interdisciplinary research of the world level.
key task of the institute is to organize a unified scientific and
educational environment based on a multi-level training system in order
to accelerate the cycle of creating new materials and breakthrough
Education has to change
- Do you think education in Russia is getting better or worse?
It is difficult to find criteria for the quality of education that
would help answer this question. After all, society and technology are
changing very quickly now. These processes affect relationships in
society, the system of labor organization and, of course, education.
There is an urgent need for proactive training of specialists.
modern education should include three elements: fundamental content,
modern Internet technologies, additional soft skills and abilities. In
general, the Russian education system is moving in this direction and
seeks to prepare a specialist demanded in modern production.
- Will we be able to come to individual training, when the student himself chooses which courses he needs?
Individual training implies the construction of an individual
trajectory of personality development at the university, and not just
the possibility of a variable choice of courses.
© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
that the world universities – the leaders in the rankings – mainly build
learning according to an individual trajectory and that the education
of a modern specialist is much more complicated than education with a
limited set of skills several decades ago. Therefore, we have no other
choice but to move to an individual learning path.
turbulence in the world is spurring the process of this transition and
leaves an imprint on the implementation of experimental, practical
disciplines. We strive to introduce into the educational process more
courses related to modeling, situation analysis, process simulation,
soft skills training courses.
But today we physically
cannot carry out as many experimental works as it was possible earlier.
This changes education, and there are heated debates about it.
of the traditional school are confident that students who have passed
such a "virtual" training will not be able to work with their hands. I
partly agree with this, but, nevertheless, we understand that the future
belongs to deserted, robotic factories. So the education system for
natural professions is being significantly modernized.
- How quickly will education come to such a paradigm?
I think we are talking about a period of about 5 years. I cannot speak
for all universities in the country, but I feel that the education
system as a whole is changing.
At the same time, in order
to get an effective specialist, to orient a student, you need to start
working with him in the second or third years – to help with choosing
his own educational trajectory, to include additional cross-disciplinary
modules in the educational process. That is, to build that very
Need knowledge and skills from different sciences
- Let's talk about cross-disciplinary education at TSU. What are these new educational modules, what do they give the student?
This is a separate educational product, the purpose of which is to
provide key knowledge and tools for practical application within two to
We started creating cross-disciplinary
courses three years ago. Then it became clear that modern production
requires specialists with new skills.
At the same time,
launching a new traditional training course requires a lot of time and
approvals. And the cross-module is not tied to a specific faculty or
department, it gives interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to those
students who are interested and want to acquire new knowledge, so that
the creation of such modules can solve the problem of quickly
introducing cross-modules into the educational process, tuned to
advanced scientific research.
For example, the second
stream for the "Quantum" cross-module under the guidance of Professor,
Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Semyon Lyakhovich has now
been recruited. The module is in demand among students of natural
science and technical specialties. The knowledge gained in the field of
quantum technologies will help them in research scientific projects.
The first stream was attended by 160 listeners - students of TSU and other universities of Tomsk, this is quite a lot.
- How was the selection of listeners? Were all those who submitted applications accepted?
Students with a certain level of knowledge in higher mathematics, basic
elements of statistics, physics were able to get into the course. Those
students who did not have sufficient knowledge were offered to take the
"Prequantum" course to master the basic courses of the cross-module.
This module can be included in educational programs at different
faculties. It can be either basic or optional.
cross-module is molecular biotechnology, headed by Professor Eduard
Sazonov, Associate Professor Gleb Artyomov. Students of different
specialties were also interested in this cross-module. In addition,
several employees of manufacturing companies were also interested in
this module as a professional development.
- Will there appear any other cross-disciplinary modules at TSU?
Now we are developing an open cross-disciplinary module "Analysis Tools
and Design Thinking for Industry 4.0" together with Tomsk Polytechnic University (Associate Professor Mikhail Semyonov) and Econophysica Ltd.,
Cognitive Technologies companies and key cases from EFKO Group (Sloboda
and Altero brands). Company employees participate in the development of
practical cases. It is important here that business supports science
and wants to be a partner in the training of qualified personnel.
© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
new cross-module will be devoted to tools and algorithms for design
thinking, data analysis, and the choice of directions for solving
complex problems. Listeners will be offered real cases from the company.
Such a case involves solving a production problem using a large amount
of data and special algorithms for working with them. These skills are
needed now by specialists in various industries.
design thinking module will assist students of natural-scientific and
technical specialties in developing decision-making abilities in
non-standard environments. Together with the EFKO team, we have
developed four cases for this cross-module.
- The scientific product should also be promoted among students ...
... therefore, another cross-disciplinary module will be associated
with the training of specialists in the field of communications,
negotiation in a foreign language.
It is suitable for
specialists of any technical or natural science profile who plan to work
as project managers in the international market and promote new
We are also thinking about a module
dedicated to the ability to present and visualize the obtained data and
results. This is a skill that the specialist of the future must possess.
Scientific information and results must be presented in the form of
effective graphics, diagrams, concisely and succinctly. And we can
provide basic tools for developing such a skill.
- What other projects with large companies are you implementing?
TSU actively cooperates with Rostec, RUSNANO, EFKO, BIOCAD, SIBUR,
Gazprom and others. Partner companies participate in olympiads, for
example, "I am a professional", in the implementation of educational
programs, internships and real research projects. In addition,
specialists from companies undergo advanced training courses with us.
Learn from partners and create better conditions
How important is it for Russian universities to have connections with
foreign institutions and companies? Does the openness of the university
lead to a drain of personnel abroad?
Interaction with foreign universities is very important in order to have
an idea of how the educational and scientific environment is built in
foreign organizations. Students and young professionals should have
experience of working in various scientific teams, build communications,
gain experience in working with modern equipment.
© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
drain is a common problem. Therefore, it is important for us to create
here, locally, conditions for the self-realization of talented people.
Tomsk is a student city, and of course, most of them leave after
graduation to other cities, but I would like to see the best in our
Moreover, the very formats of joint research
are changing. In the recent past, the scientific advisor and research
workers worked side by side, in the same laboratory. Now research
projects and joint scientific work are based on the interaction of
various teams from different cities and countries. The presence of the
Internet allows to always be in touch.
We have been doing
this for six years. Our fellow scientists work in Germany, France,
Brazil and the Netherlands. We communicate regularly via Skype or Zoom,
being in close scientific contact all the time. In this state of
affairs, the employee himself plans his working day, performs the
- What seminars or webinars do you organize with foreign scientists?
There was a very interesting seminar with the EFKO company. At the end
of September 2020, Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem Stefan Rokem conducted an educational intensive in
microbiology for Tomsk students. We hope that the company will invite
other scientists as well.
We organize regular courses of
lectures – intensives with Professor Lothar Heinrich, Julia Krzyszkowska
from Germany, we look forward to meeting with Professor Oleg Mayboroda
from the Netherlands and other foreign scientists. This interaction is
very effective, it allows to reduce travel time and focus on scientific
- That is, you were not surprised to work remotely because of the pandemic?
With such a wide experience of working with a distributed team, the
pandemic did not become a crisis for us. Previously, we were criticized
for this style of work, but now many teams are moving to a remote and
distributed style of work, and this is becoming the norm.
hope that new training courses and formats will help our students to
successfully solve the problems of the new reality and become truly
specialists of the future.