“An Idea Is a Sincere Desire to Fulfil Something”: Interview with UMNIK Program Prize-winner

Young scientists from South Ural State University annually take part in the UMNIK program, which supports commercially oriented research and engineering projects. One of the prize-winners is Mikhail Ilyushenkov, who presented his project on the CASE Platforms for Corporate Software Development back in 2012.

Every year participants of the UMNIK program are provided with a unique chance to fulfil their scientific potentials. The program aims at stimulating young people to participate in research and engineering and innovation activity, as well as encouraging young scientists to establish small innovative enterprises through which the results of research development can be commercialized.

Mikhail Ilyushenkov participated in the program more than once. In 2011, while studying as a postgraduate at the Department of Information Systems, the young man presented his project in the finals. However, he had made some mistakes in the course of his work, which did not allow him to present his project properly. In 2012, having hammered out all the flaws and focused on the commercial part, Mikhail became a prize-winner in the UMNIK program. The work was conducted under the guidance of Professor Vladimir Mokeev.

Currently Mikhail Ilyushenkov is a Director of OOO “Programmnye Sistemy” (Program Systems company), which was established based on his own research developments in 2014. In the beginning the company staff included 4 members unified by a common idea. Today 15 specialists are contributing to the success of the enterprise.

How did you come up with the project's idea?

“I was working as a system administrator and my duties often included programming-related tasks. The programmes in the company I was working in were targeted at the automation of the document flow and business processes. Over time I came to realize that it's very interesting for me, so I started immersing into this sphere. Some time later an idea came on how the process of developing programmes on automation could be simplified. It should have been a certain tool that would allow me to create such programmes. I figured out that I wouldn't be able to solve that problem on my own, so I invited a help-mate from my Institute. He proved to be of great assistance: I was generating the ideas, and he was the one to write the code. When I implemented our first developments in the company I was working in back then, they yielded excellent results. With the help of the designed tool, it took my friend and me about a month to complete the first programme for automation of certain tasks; and over the next six months we created 5 more such programmes. It was then that I decided that it was not just an idea, but a product in and of itself, which I could try to develop outside just one company.”

Why did you decide to take part in the UMNIK program one day?

“I heard about the UMNIK contest back when I was a student. I thought it was an interesting experience in fulfilling my own project. Winning in this program could provide additional support for the research activity. When the winners were being announced, and I was among them, I felt really elated. And it's not even about the money. It was about receiving the acknowledgment from experienced experts who duly appreciated my work. It was one of the most memorable days of my life. It gave me a powerful boost to keep working in the chosen field.”

What were your next steps after you had won in the program?

“First I needed to simply draw up the action plan. I had to understand which steps to take. Of course, I could just leave my project as a mere scientific development, finish the work within the grant, submit the research reports and forget all about it. But I was ambitious about my desire to still make a commercial product out of it. And so it happened that a couple of months after my victory an acquaintance of mine called me and asked to create a programme for his business's automation. Since I had the tools required for the development, I happily agreed to help. Once the contract was signed and the technical assignment was compiled, we put that programme into implementation. It's still being successfully used by that company.”

How did OOO “Programmnye Sistemy” company come into being?

“Programmnye Sistemy company is the result of that research project's development. We're designing software for automation. Over time, having implemented an individual product at several companies in one and the same sector, you come to understand that they have similar tasks, so you move on to creating a standard box solution. During the period of our company's existence we have fulfilled more than 250 projects, and also created about a dozen of box solutions. Our geography is quite broad. In the recent couple of years our services have often become of demand by companies from other regions, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. This has been made possible thanks to the fact that we had box solutions to offer. And since all the works are being carried out remotely, there's no need in opening branches in other cities as of yet.”

What plans do you have in mind for yourself and for your enterprise?

“In the future we're planning on increasing the number of box solutions, and developing the very tool itself as a platform for software designing. The project's ultimate goal is to implement this platform not only at our company, but make it available for other designers as well. Many steps need to be taken to achieve that: we need to expand the set of functionality features, elaborate the documentation, instructions and video manuals. It's very difficult to persuade people to use namely this tool for the development, as it is a framework one in the automation business. The way such a company would function greatly depends on which platform is used for the development.”

What did SUSU and the UMNIK program give you that you feel grateful for?

“I feel very grateful both to our university and the Foundation, which holds this contest. University is a great space to fulfil scientific plans. I received assistance from my Department and from my academic adviser during the presentation compiling. By the time I entered the competition, I had already managed to implement the software products based on the created platform, and that raised my chances to win. It's wonderful that SUSU holds such contests and helps students and postgraduates bring interesting ideas to life. Thanks to the support from the Foundation many young people can get a psychological impulse to endeavour to do something.”

What would you wish those who are only planning to take part in the UMNIK program? How should they prepare their presentations?

“I think I can't tell them 'Take it easy'. Every person feels nervous this or that way, and it goes away only once you get experienced enough. You should practice your public speaking skills as often as you can. I can say that if you have a certain idea, you shouldn't keep it on the shelf for a long time. An idea doesn't come to you out of nowhere, it's some sort of an insight and a sincere desire to fulfil something. Yes, you will make mistakes and change your work over and over again, but there's no other way to succeed.”

Young scientists of South Ural State University are provided with a unique opportunity to fulfil their scientific potentials. Students and postgraduates are invited to participate in the contests held within the UMNIK program (the Russian abbreviation for “Member of the Youth Research and Innovation Competition”). The authors of the best projects will be awarded grants for the fulfilment of their developments. For details on the Foundation's contests, deadlines of filing applications, and rules, please visit http://fasie.ru/

Marina Kovyazina, photo: archives of Mikhail Ilyushenkov
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