“To Make the World around Us Reliable”: an Interview with Professor Sergey Sapozhnikov


Each year on October 30, engineering workers of various industry branches celebrate their professional holiday – the Day of Mechanical Engineer. Mechanical engineer is a specialist with higher engineering education in the field of designing, constructing or exploitation of engineering equipment. But in reality, the requirements to specialists of this profession are much higher and more various. Professor, Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Head of the Department of Engineering Mechanics of the SUSU Faculty of Aerospace Engineering Serget Sapozhnikov told us about importance of the profession and about students’ training at the Department.

– What is the specificity of a mechanical engineer’s work? How important is this profession?

– We live in the world of things, they are around us: everything that we are wearing, where we are living, in what we are driving, flying, swimming, what we are holding in our hands, what we are sitting on, with what we are working, etc. Every one of us wants these things to be reliable and durable, non-expensive and comfortable. Mechanical engineers think up and create such things. And when things become out of service, they repair them or develop new ones. The importance of our profession is in making the world around us to be stable and reliable!

– How did the profession change over time? Are there any innovations in this sphere?

– Previously, when a mechanical engineer came up with an an idea of a new car, he would draw sketches, perform preliminary calculations; then give the sketches to an engineering technologist for making details; then he would assemble a car, start it, adjust it for working in the way it needs to. It was often that the engineer would change the construction and repeat the whole cycle from a sketch to an experimental sample-prototype over again. It consumed a lot of time and money. The present time requires from an engineer to accelerate this process and offers widely using of digital three-dimensional models of constructions and numerical (computational) methods of analyzing their mechanical properties. Of course, a new car can’t be sent to serial production without an experimental checkup, but the number of expensive prototypes and the time for releasing the new model is reduced in several times. Not to mention how important it is for the modern market economy.

– What one should be able to do to be a professional? Do students learn this at our university?

– The question is extensive but I will try to answer it briefly: high school’s math and physics; university’s classic: mathematics, analytical mechanics, strength of materials, machine components, materials’ technologies; and university’s modernity: three-dimensional graphics, numerical methods in mechanics, air and hydrodynamics, and electromagnetic, optimal design methods, mechanics of composite materials, additive technologies, and, of course, English language! You can’t be a specialist without knowledge of this language. All of this, or the bigger part of this, is necessary to know to become a professional. There are all possibilities for our students to master the necessary knowledge and skills.

Many students think about creating their own small innovative enterprises. For that, they need to add a substantial portion of economics and management to their professional engineering knowledge; here for their aid are the programs UMNIK and START, they also present at our university.

– Where do students undertake internship and where do they work afterwards?

– Students’ internships are different by orientation and training competencies: academic and research, engineering and manufacturing, pre-graduation… Often students in their senior years do already find a place for their future work as a mechanical engineer: they try to use the obtained knowledge in a real engineering business; they earn money in addition to their scholarship. Another part of students is targeted at research work, get included in completing serious projects by orders of enterprises, take part in writing research articles – getting ready to apply for master’s degree study and postgraduate study in order to become candidates and later on doctors of sciences. The university’s Center of Computer Engineering, which was opened comparatively recently but which has already proved itself as a place where talents get revealed, provides a perfect opportunity for this. Nowadays, mainly graduates of the Applied Mechanics specialty of the Aerospace Faculty are working in the Center, but there are also graduates of the Automobile and Tractor Faculty, Mechanics and Technology Faculty, and Power Engineering Faculty of the SUSU Polytechnic Institute. As large engineering projects are always a complex and multidisciplinary work.

I can note that there is competition for the majority of engineering specialties of SUSU during the period of sorting: three or four employers are claiming one graduate. Today the prestige of engineering professions is quite high, and this is good news!


Ekaterina Kuznetsova
You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.