TOMSK, Jul 26 –
RIA Tomsk, Elena Taylasheva. TPU team
under the leadership of the new Acting Rector Dmitry Sednev is preparing the
university's development strategy for the next 10 years. In his interview he
talked about what the new engineering education is, how to make TPU the best
technical university in Russia, and under what conditions Sednev will send his
son to the alma mater.
– At the meeting
of the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) Academic Council on July 5, when your
appointment was announced, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the
Russian Federation Valery Falkov explained that he was also won over by the
fact that you refused to head one of the iconic Moscow universities, preferring
Tomsk. Tell me about your conversation with the minister? Did you know where
you were being interviewed?
– There was a
call from the minister, I was scheduled for an interview, which, due to the
pandemic, is not conducted face-to-face, but via video-conferencing. I was
confronted with the fact: "You are being considered for the talent
pool." There was indeed a question about the change of the region, but I
said that not everything is still done in Tomsk, to move from here.
university did they offer?
– Which one - it
was not indicated. The choice - Moscow State University or Tomsk Polytechnic -
was not put before me.
– And what if it
was about Moscow State University? Well, for the sake of argument.
– I would have
chosen the Polytechnic anyway. Near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin. This is
true: there are ambitions for my native university, which I now head, to become
the best technical university in Russia (so far we are called so, but with the
prefix "non capital"). It's within our power to make our strong
university even stronger. Education at Polytechnic is at a high level, we have
always been ready to make experiments, including educational ones, and I am
ready to support and strengthen these traditions.
– Now a large
part of the team, which has not yet recovered from the previous structural
experiments, must have shuddered...
can be different. You can say: "Tomorrow we will all live a new life. Or
you can say, "Those who want, can try to do something different. We are
ready to give leverage and resources to make the transformation happen."
We're not going
to break anything - we're hoping for a smooth diversification of the model.
These ambitions for new educational formats are now reflected in the
"Priority 2030" application (a program for enhancing the
competitiveness of universities, launched by the Ministry of Science and Higher
Education of the Russian Federation - Ed.). One of the strategic stakes of the
program is the new engineering education.
– What do you
mean by "new engineering education"?
models of education are when there is a clear workplace, for which an
understandable specialist is trained in an understandable way. Let's say, in
five years you need 18 technologists at the pipe plant, control figures for
admission are given to the university, it recruits people, trains them and distributes
to the specific workplace, thus, closing the needs of the country.
But now a lot
has changed. Our economy is integrated into the global economy, graduates go
outside of Russia, and we clearly understand: if we want to be a leading
university, we must produce professionals who are mobile in the labor market
(including the ability to create their own jobs), who are ready not just to
come into the industry, but to transform it. And this requires other
educational models, including, for example, early professionalization.
© РИА Томск. Таисия Воронцова
"Engineer is now in demand in the job market not only and not so much by his diploma as by his resume. That's why we want to get students into real projects as early as their senior year so they can try out different roles and get competencies that can be reflected in their resume," says Sednev.
At the same
time, when we talk about different formats of education, we understand that
there is no getting away from the concept of life-long learning. Additional
education, retraining, and changing careers is an indispensable step, without
which we can't further integrate with industry.
We are already
working with industrial partners on transforming educational blocks in terms of
individual fine-tuning, so that a specialist, falling out of the production
process as little as possible, could develop those very skills in which he is
failing individually. We are preparing to launch a system of competence
diagnostics for specialists.
– And in which
– At the moment
- in the oil and gas industry: TPU's Heriot-Watt Center is successfully developing
the Asset of the Future project with Gazprom Neft. This is a program to improve
business processes, digital transformation, and the development of
cross-functional competencies and flexible skills. We are extending this
educational project to the School of Energy & Power Engineering - with
digital transformation of the energy sector.
We are also
having our first conversations with the nuclear industry. We already have one
flagship educational project with them - providing human resources for
Rosatom's export potential. TPU created a center that allows us to teach
foreign students in English, so that the technological products that the
corporation ships abroad can be immediately supported by our trained
© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
"Our unique venue, TPU Nuclear Research Reactor, plays its part; we got permission to hold educational modules there. Graduates come to work with a high degree of readiness, minimal adaptation is needed to be included in the job," tells Dmitry Sednev.
thing here is that by piloting some projects, we are ready to extend them to
other industries. In many ways, the "Priority 2030" program is about
developing various models of cooperation with industry for further replication.
We want to become a supplier of such models for the entire higher education
Now, within the
framework of the Big University (unification of Tomsk universities and research
institutes while preserving their legal independence - Ed.), there is an
opportunity to cooperate with colleagues from other universities and take the
unique educational competencies that are available at TSU, TUSUR, SSMU, TSUAB,
and TSPU. I am sure that my colleagues and I will be able to work out these
mechanisms. This is also an experiment that will be useful for everyone, which
can be transmitted to the federal level.
– Are you
discussing these ideas with your colleagues?
– Right now we
are on vacation, and most of my colleagues are not at work. So I have not yet
had a big meeting with the staff. But we have met with the Academic Council,
rector's office, and Professors' assembly.
– The old
professorship are, in a good sense, the most "hurting" part of the
staff: true patriots of the polytechnic, who are suspicious of the fundamental
reforms. What is their main request?
– To preserve
the traditions of the university.
– Surely they
raise the question of returning the traditional departments?
are indeed an articulate request, and we have had very constructive
conversations with the Professors' assembly. It does not matter what you call
the institution: department, chair, laboratory, research and education center,
or something else. What is important are the basic principles by which this
unit of the university is built. For example, the electivity of the head of the
institution through his public defense of the development program. It is
possible to restore this practice.
It is important:
the collective gathers together, sees a candidate (ideally, candidates, in
order to have a real electability), and votes for a specific development
program. In this way a kind of social contract is concluded: the head takes on
obligations, and the collective, which chose him, has the right to ask for the
result. Then it is not just a KPI from above (you have to write so many
articles, earn so much money, accept so many students). You have not only
quantitative, but also qualitative plans.
© предоставлено Томским политехническим университетом
"TPU knows how to make money: we are the eighth in Russia to raise funds from industry and the first to raise funds from abroad - we have the highest export potential. We have accumulated a lot of experience in attracting partners, now we need to make this experience a system," notes Sednev.
It so happens
that we are now writing a ten-year strategy for the development of the
university (the previous comprehensive development plan was presented for 2019
And when the
head of the department presents his program, he will certainly correlate it
with the university's comprehensive plan. So each employee will be able to see
directly his place in the overall development program, to find his role in it,
which raises his involvement and motivation.
– I have heard
that now the entire university's management is practically sleeping at their
workplaces, preparing this development strategy for "Priority 2030".
How has your schedule changed since you became to lead the university?
became quite scarce. But I try at least sometimes to leave work on time to see
my family - my son is six and a half years old.
– Are you
writing your doctoral thesis?
– Of course! At
night... As I've always been told, the PhD and doctoral theses are your own
business, so only in your spare time. I have a lot of accumulated material on
non-destructive testing and ultrasound, both on a project with TEMP and on a
project for Rosatom.
systems that we (at the TPU School of Non-Destructive Testing) made for the St.
Petersburg Research Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus, involved in the
construction of a thermonuclear reactor in France. There was still mechanical
work to summarize the materials, I sincerely hope that in a year it can be
– Was it hard to
leave the School? Or did you, as the head, see the continuation of your career
in that particular direction?
– I can't say
that I dreamed of my way to becoming a rector. I just worked for Tomsk
Polytechnic University. I did not intend to become a head of the School at the
time either - the stars are aligned that way. On the other hand, I understood
that the things that I wanted to change within the university could only be
done in a certain position. In that part of the career move was logical.
I realized that
I was sacrificing my time, and in many ways, I was sacrificing the projects I
was leading. But I put everything into reliable hands. I would like to
emphasize: I have the same attitude towards all the schools: no indulgence, no
allocation of separate resources for the school, saying that since I am a
former head, non-destructive testing is now our main religion.
At the same
time, of course, I still have some personal involvement in projects - because
some of the obligations to industrial partners were taken under my reputation.
Immediately after moving to another position, I contacted all partners and gave
guarantees that all projects would be completed. I can see from the outside:
the team is doing fine. At the moment, the stage for the thermonuclear reactor
project is being handed over.
– Now let's
check your true loyalty to the Polytechnic. Would you like your son to follow
in your footsteps and your parents?
– The main thing
I want is for my son to be happy. It is impossible to say what a child is drawn
to until he even goes to school. Maybe he'll want to be a dancer, and I won't
stop him. If he is interested in technical sciences and by that time Tomsk
Polytechnic will be the university that my team and I dream about, and because
of that he will choose it himself - I will be happy.