SUSU Increasing Its Competitive Advantages

South Ural State University was founded on November 2, 1943 under the regulation of the Council of People's Commissars as a Mechanical Engineering Institute. And on December 15, 1943 the university opened. This day is now celebrated as the university's birthday.

There was a war going on, the frontlines needed tanks, and the factories needed specialists who could build these tanks. The first department created at the institute became the Department of Tanks. It was headed by the chief designer of the Kirov Plant, evacuated to Chelyabinsk, N. Dukhov. Here he developed and put into production heavy Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tanks and IS tanks.

The academic staff included teachers and staff of the Stalingrad Mechanical Institute evacuated from Stalingrad. In the very first months of the university’s work, scientists began to conduct research related to the production of tanks in the famous Tankograd, where the forces of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant, the Kirov (Leningrad) Plant and the Kharkov Motor Construction Plant were concentrated. At the same time, the educational process was launched, and 340 of the 4th- and 5th-year students received training.

In the summer of 1944, the first graduation of engineers in the specialty Tanks and Tank Engines took place. In total, in 1944, 7 engineers graduated from the institute, in addition to the above specialty, there were also graduates majoring in Foundry Engineering and Technology of Mechanical Engineering.

The war ended, but a tense confrontation between the Western world and our country continued. The institute needed specialists who would create nuclear weapons and develop energy, construction, and metallurgy. In 1950, a decision was made, signed by I. Stalin, on the creation of the Polytechnic Institute on the basis of the Mechanical Engineering Institute and the Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture. However, the merger did not happen. On July 28, 1950, an order was issued by the USSR Ministry of Higher Education to reorganize the Mechanical Engineering Institute into Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute (CPI), and in August 1951 such an institute was created. It trained over 900 students. CPI finally received its own separate building (a school was previously located in it). New faculties opened: the Faculty of Construction and the Faculty of Metallurgy.

On the eve of perestroika, it became clear that the situation with higher educational institutions in the country should be changed. The question arose about improving the quality of education, and the institute's administration came up with the idea of creating a technical university based on CPI. This idea was supported by a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union E. Ligachev during his visit to the university. That was in October 1985. In October 1990, the Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute was transformed into the Chelyabinsk State Technical University. Such a transformation made it possible to improve the quality of training, especially since a lot of money was promised. However, events developed according to a different plan, and money never came to the university.

The time of market relations and market economy required a new institution of higher education. Economic, legal, physical and mathematical faculties, as well as the faculties of psychology, journalism and others were created at the institute. The university had begun to diversify its training.

In 1997, Chelyabinsk State Technical University was transformed into South Ural State University. At the same time, the university began to open branches in cities with a predominant mono-structure of the economy in order to strengthen its ties in the Ural region.

During the years of perestroika, the university created 15 branches in the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, and Kurgan regions. As a result, the number of students grew to 64 thousand people. The university has become a multi-purpose one. Since then, students have been receiving engineering, physical and mathematical, as well as humanitarian education here. The peculiar thing is that these three fields were created on the basis of the already existing departments.

The underlying premise was the high-quality arrangement of new specialties, faculties and branches. All branches received separate buildings, the main building of SUSU in Chelyabinsk was reconstructed. The university received a new sports complex with an Olympic-class swimming pool and the building of the Research Institute of Digital Systems. Also, 400-apartment buildings were erected for the university's academic and administrative staff. The number of doctors of sciences sharply increased; by 2005, they numbered over 270.

Meanwhile, it became clear that they could not improve the quality of education using such extensive methods. At the state level, it was decided to create research universities. A competition was announced in which SUSU took part. As a result, in May 2011 it received the status of a national research university. Allocated funds allowed creating new laboratories and attracting the world's leading scientists to teaching at the university. Now there was an opportunity of taking internships abroad.

In 2015, SUSU became one of the higher educational institutions of Russia selected for participation in Project 5-100, thereby confirming its leading position among our country's universities.

As a multi-disciplinary university, it provides training in 78 Bachelor's degree programmes, 84 Master's degree programmes, 20 Specialist degree programmes, 12 secondary vocational education programmes, and 26 postgraduate programmes. This is the result of the tremendous work of the entire team, the help of the Ministry and many sectors of the economy.

Relations with leading industrial enterprises of the region and the country are being strengthened, departments and centres are being created at the places of production, where Master's degree students are directly involved in solving production problems. This programme is called Project-based Learning. By the way, there are unique specialists and scientific equipment for the creation of the best engine in the field of tank building.

High-quality education is impossible without serious fundamental research and the participation of students, especially Master's degree students. We are at the forefront of the development of international science. Our experts carry out their activities in foreign research teams, and scientists from abroad come to Chelyabinsk and work at SUSU.

One of the key vectors of the development of the university is the digital industry. Recently, a number of projects in this direction have been implemented in the interests of enterprises operating in the global market in the field of metallurgy, in particular in the interests of Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works and SMS Group, Germany. As part of the future projects in this direction, the university plans to use the methods of artificial intelligence. By the way, in 2019, the first Russian Master's degree programme in Digital Industry was launched at the university.

Currently, a promising direction is the development of quantum informatics, which can lead to a significant change in the whole of computer technology in the world. In 2015, it was for the first time that a doctoral dissertation in quantum informatics was defended at the university. The direction was so new that there was even no council in the country for defending the dissertation on it. Now a group of the university's scientists led by Professor S. Podoshvedov is actively studying the problems of quantum informatics and looking for ways to apply this knowledge.

Such direction as Artificial Intelligence is also actively developing at the university. The country's first Master's degree programme in this direction has been opened. All students both gain theoretical knowledge and solve practical problems of using machine learning and neural network technologies for various applications.

The successful work of the teams is facilitated by the presence of powerful information and computing equipment at SUSU, and in particular, a supercomputer, in which the university had invested a lot of money a while ago. The university's scientists were the first in the world together with specialists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Skif Russian Supercomputer Company who created a completely liquid-cooled supercomputer.

The university has always developed in accordance with the requirements of the time and the problems that needed and still need to be solved today in the context of the changing agenda of the country. SUSU managed to gather the best staff – a strong team of scientists and teachers. So, in particular, the results of 30 years of active work of archaeologists and historians became the basis of monumental work - the eight-volume book entitled History of the South Ural Region (project manager is G. Vyatkin. - ed.).

Photo: German Vyatkin

The university has always given attention to the employment of its graduates. Our university is famous for its close ties with industry. As a result, 80 percent of the representatives of the administrative staff at the plants of the Chelyabinsk Region are SUSU's graduates.

Not so long ago, the SUSU-TV Television and Radio Company celebrated its 15th Anniversary. Such a media platform was created for the first time in our country, and possibly, in the world, and even now it is still the only one. Along with theoretical knowledge, students gain professional skills by working in a television company. They graduate from the university as versatile media specialists. Also, the most advanced technologies in the field of journalism have been introduced here. SUSU-TV has a 360-degree multimedia newsroom at its disposal. It is a modern digital complex, in which university media are technologically integrated, converged media products are created and students are trained.

There is also a “tasty" achievement. Some time ago, the university established the Faculty of Production Technology and Catering Organization. Its graduates today successfully work in restaurants, cafes and bars of the Chelyabinsk Region and Russia, receive prizes of prestigious international competitions.

More than two thousand international students from the near and far abroad receive education at SUSU. They represent more than 50 countries. Last year, the university celebrated New Year five times in accordance with the cultural traditions of different countries. It is very important for us to provide quality education to international students, and the university is enhancing its prestige in this direction.

In the current difficult conditions, the university maintains the set bar. For students, who have left for their countries and cannot return to SUSU, distance classes are held. University systems allow holding them qualitatively. In the context of the pandemic, a Standard for distance technologies was quickly created. Teachers conduct classes in accordance with this Regulation, which takes into account the best world practices of distance education.

During the pandemic, the number of Chinese students has increased at the university. We keep in touch with Chinese universities on the issues relating to Master's degree programmes at SUSU, and we see an increased number of those who wish to study in Master's degree programmes at our university after Bachelor's studies in China, when the global crisis passes.

Photo: Aleksandr Shestakov

For us, cooperation with foreign universities is very important. Today, SUSU has 12 international laboratories headed by leading professors of the world with good publication ratings and qualifications. The scope of scientific directions is wide: Information Technology, Mathematics, Materials Science, Food Technology, Molecular Stress Mechanisms... The interest of the heads of international laboratories in collaborative research leads to publications in journals with a high impact factor. This is a new component and important result of our work in the framework of Project 5-100.

In 2019, SUSU entered the global international ranking of the best universities THE World University Rankings-2020 according to authoritative Times Higher Education Ranking Agency, and two subject rankings of THE in engineering and physical sciences. The university is also represented in the global QS ranking.

Now the goal of South Ural State University is to steadily maintain and improve its standing in national and international rankings. This is important from the point of view of positioning and evaluating the activities of the university. But we also understand that rankings are not a goal in and of themselves, but rather an indicator of the university level in terms of conducting research and implementing modern educational programmes.

One of the latest scientific developments is the aircraft landing system for severe weather conditions. This is the result of many years of activity and the university’s potential in the field of radiolocation, as well as interaction with specialists of the Polet Chelyabinsk Radio Plant. We managed to significantly improve the performance of landing locators. After state tests, a world-class development was introduced into production.

The second work that deserves attention is related to the digital industry, which SUSU had begun to deal with even before they started talking about it in our country. We cooperate with Emerson Corporation, the ideologist of the digital industry in the world.

Today we are implementing a breakthrough project jointly with the industrial giant, Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works. This year, the work on assessing the condition of the equipment of the slitting lines shop is about to be completed. We are saturating it with sensors, applying neural network technologies, which are the elements of artificial intelligence. This is a new key direction in the development of industry. Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works carries out its activities in the global market. This determines the level of the tasks and their significance. Accordingly, the results that we have already obtained and can obtain in the future are very important for the development of the economy of the Chelyabinsk Region, the Big Urals and our whole country.

Some time ago, SMS Group showed that they believe in us. As a result, the developments by SUSU scientists were introduced in Germany. After that, the enterprises of the Russian Federation believed in us, too, and today we continue to successfully work in this direction.

As for the main achievement, this, of course, is the creation of a modern world-class university. SUSU opens new international laboratories, sets global tasks, successfully solves them and dynamically develops. Today, the main goal of South Ural State University is the international recognition of the scientific and intellectual power of the university. Ahead are new achievements and new results, interesting to the world scientific community.

Advisor at the Rector's Office of South Ural State University, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences G. Vyatkin; Rector of SUSU, Chairman of the Board of Rectors of the Ural Federal District A. Shestakov
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Evgeniy Zagoskin, Office of Internet Portals and Social Media, tel.: 267-92-86
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