Over the 75 years since its founding day, more than 250,000 students have graduated from South Ural State University, many of whom have obtained high positions in big organisations. Aleksandr Romantsov, having obtained a quality engineering education at SUSU, got employed at Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant (ChelPipe). He speaks about what is important for students to know for their careers to be successful.
— Please tell us, why did you choose South Ural State University for enrollment?
— I enrolled in 1999, and even then SUSU was one of the best higher education institutions in the Ural region. I considered the engineering specialties and my choice was clear, I didn’t doubt it at all. I graduated in 2004 from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in the specialty “Equipment and Technologies of the Welding Industry.” Now this is the Faculty of Materials Science and Metallurgical Technologies of the Polytechnic Institute.
— What kind of student were you?
— To be honest I mostly received “C”s until my fourth course. I was a typical student with exam debts in my gradebook, and did not plan my life further than one week ahead. Everything changed when the special courses began, the real engineering part! I didn’t even notice how I became an “A” student, I earned both an increased scholarship and the Ya.P. Osadchiy ChelPipe scholarship.
— When did you become interested in research and developments?
— This happens in stages. In my final years, I worked at the plant in summer. Each year for three years. Of course, it is a shame when your friends are tanning on the beach, and you are in a hot warehouse welding pipes. That’s when you begin to think automatically, and how to do what you are doing more easily, better, and faster… That is likely when improvements began to appear in my head, my interest in this only grew with time.
— What was your career growth like?
— As I mentioned before, I started to work at ChelPipe when I was still a student, then immediately after the Institute I began working as a welding engineer in 2004, and gradually I began to master this interesting and difficult specialty.
In 2007 I got very lucky, I was invited to participate in Vysota 239 project, before this I had already been working as a senior master of welding with 180 people subject to me. But not for a minute did I have any doubts on working on a new, interesting project. As it turned out, it was not in vain. Throughout the period in which I worked on this project, I saw the most modern manufacturing in the world and applied all of the international experience to the equipment and technologies of the Vysota 239 workshop. In 2010, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin launched a new workshop, and in that same year I was named Deputy Head of the engineering workshop. In 2015, I was invited to head all of the engineering and research at ChelPipe, which I continue to do to this day with joy.
— How did the knowledge and skills you gained at the university help you?
— The university taught me most important things – how to find the necessary and best quality information quickly. However, I have a clear belief that theory, when isolated from manufacturing, is practically useless. You can’t control machines if you simply read in a booklet how to do it, even if you memorize it. At the same time, I believe that there was very little practice in the academic program. At present, we – ChelPipe and SUSU – are working hard to resolve this deficiency.
— How do you evaluate the students who are currently at the factory for practical training?
— Various kinds of students come to us. We have some with “shining” eyes, who are interested in the workshop, they are interested in engineering tasks, and there are some who want the salary of a manager and a soft chair. I personally speak with every candidate for practical training. Among the 30 people who were selected for the trainee program, only two had to be let go as a result.
— In 2017, ChelPipe and SUSU signed a partnership agreement – a Road Map for the training of specialists “sharpened” at enterprises. How is this program executed?
— We have many plans and we already have some achievements! With each year, the map becomes more complete and more thought-out in terms of the projects. The most important indicator for us is the 10 engineers who are already benefitting ChelPipe and receive a salary which is higher than the average for the region. Within the academic program of the ChelPipe Group “The Future of White Metallurgy”, the “Apprentice” project is also being fulfilled for students of senior courses and graduates of engineering universities who complete paid internships in all of the divisions of the company: manufacturing, engineering, commercial, and human resources. From the beginning of this project’s fulfillment, 37 students from SUSU have participated, 16 of which were offered permanent employment in our company, and 14 more interns are on their way to becoming employees.
— What would you advise students and graduates for their careers to be successful?
— I always advise people who come to interviews to remain true to themselves. The choice that graduates make when selecting one profession or another, or their specialty in a company, will determine their lives for many years. And if you feel that something is not for you or not to your liking, it’s better not do it – it’s not too late to try something new. But if you feel that something is for you, then you do whatever is necessary to prove this to those around you. And then you will be happy your whole life – you will do what you love!