Space as a Dream and Reality: SUSU Faculty of Aerospace Engineering Celebrates its Anniversary


On April 12th, 1961 the world’s first spacecraft was launched into space – the Vostok satellite with the first cosmonaut Yu. A. Gagarin on board. Today, we are going on a scientific, cosmic journey with you, called “Faculty of Aerospace Engineering – 60 years”, and invite you on board the SUSU spacecraft. It’s time to get to know those people whose achievements and developments make up the modern foundation of scientific knowledge and rocket building.

Buckle up, dear readers. Our ship is ready for takeoff. All instruments are online. Blast off! Our first stop in space will be the planet Faculty History. Your captain is speaking - Sergey Dmitrievich Vaulin, director of the Polytechnic Institute, doctor of technical sciences, professor, member-correspondent of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences:

“We know that the Chelyabinsk Machine Building Institute was opened in 1943. Then, in 1951, a decision was reached to rename it to Chelyabinsk Polytechnic (and from 1997 – SUSU). In 1957 they formed the Faculty of Mechanics, which, in the future, would become the foundation for the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering".

In 2015, SUSU entered the 5-100 Russian academic excellence project, within which all of the university’s faculties and departments were placed into 10 Higher Schools and Institutes, including the Polytechnic Institute. The famous “Polytech” got its name back. Today, a Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (FAE) works within SUSU’s Polytechnic Institute.

“We believe that our common history with the Polytechnic Institute comes from the very roots, from the formation of ChPI. You could say that that technical power has now combined in a new way”, says the captain of our ship, Sergey Dmitrievich.

Dear readers, take note: we are flying past a real meteor shower! How can we avoid impact with it in our scientific cosmos?

“Engineering must be seriously worked up to feel safe in space”, explains the captain of our ship.

Engineering is one of the university’s leading directions of development, so the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering actively works on developments tied to asteroid safety.

“Why is this important?” continues Sergey Vaulin, “Because Chelyabinsk residents know first-hand what a meteorite is like. SUSU seriously suffered from the impact of that cosmic body. And asteroid safety isn’t just talk for us. We took this area of study on as the foundation of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.”

What is asteroid safety? We need to identify this object from a distance, but it’s flying millions of kilometers away from us – we have to send some robot or device to study its surface and decide what to do with it: destroy it, or change its directory, having calculated where it may impact? This is a global problem that our researchers solve from all sides.

And now we see a pretty constellation made up of a few planets. They are called Roscosmos and Vostochniy. Let’s land and see where they stand in the FAE scientific space.

“Cooperation between South Ural State University and the state corporation Roskosmos began, roughly, in 2008 on the Vostochniy Cosmodrome project. Our goal was to train qualified staff coming from the Amur region (where the cosmodrome itself is located) for launch sites. After their studies they returned to their own region. SUSU also actively sends a student construction crew to this cosmodrome”, says Sergey Vaulin, sharing information and reminding us that South Ural State University signed a cooperation agreement with the state corporation Roscosmos in December 2016.

This document strengthens existing business relationships for broadening the university’s technical presence at the corporation’s enterprises. You can find out more about this agreement in a special publication.

Staff training is very important, however it is no less important that SUSU alumni not lose their scientific spirit. For this very reason, the FAE begins to bring students into scientific developments and Research and Education Centers and has them write scientific articles from the first and second year of study.

When it was brought to light that Roscosmos was interested in specialists who were able to work with supercomputers, the FAC had the idea to create “digital rockets”:

“Researchers create a 3D model of a rocket, virtually calculate everything, test it virtually, print it on a 3D printer, fuel it, and it launches. We hope that in the next decade this goal will be realized”, says the captain of our ship, Sergey Vaulin.

Where earlier computing power did not allow for virtual testing of devices, now, thanks to new developments, tests can be held on a supercomputer to remove one of the most expensive stages – comparative testing of a real object. This work is underway at the SUSU Aircraft Engines Department. Vasiliy Salich, dean of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, created breakthrough developments in this area. Now his research is used for the engines of the international space station (ISS).

We almost forgot to tell you what a spacecraft is made of and what we need to know to launch it into space!

“Cosmonauts and everyone who works in the aerospace sector must have a lot of knowledge. The FAE works on ballistics, aeronautics, the movement of cosmic objects, satellite movement, and space stations. Aircraft need special engines, small in size, efficient, and advanced. All of this is designed and studied here,” says Sergey Dmitrievich, continuing his story, “Work upon the launch of a spacecraft or rocket doesn’t end at the calculation of its trajectory and creation of its engine. You need the proper materials for all of this: metals and composite materials, including nanostructures. We are working on this area of development with the Faculty of Material Sciences and Metallurgical Technologies. The combination of calculations competent construction has a strong, synergistic effect”.

Space craft – or any rockets – are more than just a frame and engine. They also consist of electrical equipment – the energy elements of the control system. FAE is helped in these developments by the Faculty of Power Engineering and the Higher School of Electronics and Computer Science. For issues of cosmodrome construction, the delivery of special purpose rockets, hiring at cosmodromes, and their safety, the FAE creates joint projects with colleagues from the Mechanical and Technological Faculty, the Automotive Faculty, and the Institute of Architecture and Construction.

“These are complex tasks which allow us to receive the effects of a unified system, when each of the parts are helping with the general cause and gives the shared developments a push forward. We need to focus our efforts toward this unity and the training of the new generation”, says Sergey Dmitrievich.

The new generation – alumni of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering – are working on important space, aviation, and military objects. Some of them continue their developments abroad.

“For example, the dean of the FAE is also its alumnus, as well as the general director of the Makeev SRC, Vladimir Degtyar. I am also an alumnus of this faculty. Many people went towards the scientific sphere or to teaching. This is how we educate the next generation”, says Sergey Dmitrievich, presenting the crew.

Throughout our travels through the scientific cosmos, ship captain Sergey Vaulin recalled his childhood and man’s first flight into space:

“I remember April 12th very well even though I was small. Before Gagarin’s flight, we all drew what it would be like a lot: we pictured the space scenery and rockets – it was something of imagination! Photos of the first cosmonaut and the first satellite were a crazy moral boost for mankind! I’m sure that the Polytechnic Institute is glad to meet Cosmonauts’ Day since this is a holiday for all which touches all sides of our lives. It is enough to remember that no country has as much experience in rocket building, long flights, and in being in zero gravity as Russia does".

Our flight is coming to an end. Our craft, Knowledge, has landed on planet Earth. It’s time to think about our plans for the future. Our captain looks forward confidently towards the cosmos, shining with stars:

“How do I foresee the future for the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering? Successful, of course! This success depends on three factors: science, construction developments, and education. When science and developments will move forward and progress, education, without question, will be at the highest level. This is why we are actively working on students’ elite training. There is much work ahead. I wish the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and the whole Polytechnic Institute great success, significant achievements, and new cosmic discoveries!”

Yulia Uzmova, photo by Oleg Igoshin
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