Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin announced the results of the competitive selection of the Advanced Engineering Schools federal project. In 2022, 30 universities had become winners of the project; in the second wave of selection in 2023, 57 applicants from 40 regions were heard, as a result, 20 winning universities were selected. South Ural State University entered the second group with funding of 230.4 million roubles in 2024.
The Chelyabinsk Region is famous for its engineering traditions. Over the past 10 years, SUSU, jointly with large transport engineering enterprises, has been implementing projects to create a new generation of special-purpose machinery, including the development of special vehicles for smart cities, a model range of new engines, and intelligent control systems for special vehicles.
An Advanced Engineering School "Heart of the Urals" will open its doors in 2024. It is designed to accumulate best practices, advanced production experience, scientific achievements and ensure their transfer to new generations of engineers.
Why is the Advanced Engineering School being created?
The Advanced Engineering School "Heart of the Urals" is being created as a response to the challenges that the Russian mechanical engineering industry in general and special transport engineering in particular are facing. Overcoming challenges is embedded in the historical "code" of SUSU: the Department of Wheeled and Tracked Vehicles was founded simultaneously with the university in 1943. These traditions, values and experience help solve problems today.
Now there is a sharp growth in demand for the industry's products in our country, and the School's partner enterprises need to ensure a rapid increase in production output and replace products by foreign manufacturers that have left the market. There is a significant demand for new, competitive products that meet modern requirements for cost, environmental friendliness and integration into the digital environment. Some of the challenges the industry is facing are strategic for Russia. These include the implementation of a megaproject for the production of medium- and high-speed diesel engines and products based on them to ensure the technological sovereignty. And at the same time, there is a problem of shortage of qualified personnel, which is discussed at the highest level. The severity of personnel problems can be overcome by increasing labour productivity and improving the skills of workers, automation and the introduction of new technologies.
What projects will the School carry out, and what resources are available for their implementation?
By 2030, it is planned to create more than 20 products that will ensure the technological sovereignty in engine building and special vehicles in three main areas: a production range of engines, special vehicles for smart cities, and intelligent control systems for special transport. Some work has been already done in each direction, and road maps have been formed jointly with partner enterprises. Some specific examples include a range of gas piston engines, robotic transport and technological platforms and control systems for them. SUSU has the competence to create complex machines and mechanisms that are in demand in the market. Among recent completed projects are: a unified "Arctic Bus" family of vehicles for the safe transportation of passengers and cargo in the Far North; environmentally friendly multipurpose utility vehicles for all-season maintenance and cleaning of urban areas; a family of airfield vehicles (sweeping-blowing, watering and plow-brush with distribution of solid reagent).
Partner enterprises and the university already have a fairly powerful fleet of unique testing and research equipment. These include the "Vprysk" scientific installation, the only HORIBA test bench in Russia (up to 2100 kW), modern high-performance computing equipment, and much more. To implement the ambitious goals of the Advanced Engineering School, it is necessary to further develop and improve the scientific and educational infrastructure. The corresponding costs have already been included in the investment programs of partner enterprises; significant support is provided by the Government of the Chelyabinsk Region and the Russian Engineering Union.
How will the training of future engineers change?
The SUSU Advanced Engineering School educational model is built as a response to the task set by the partners: to prepare design engineers, technologists, technostarters and teams of specialists with competencies in several areas and capable of solving pressing problems of the industrial complex of the Big Urals.
Since 2018, the university has been implementing a model of project-oriented education, which is available in three dimensions: project-oriented Master’s degree in product logic of education, project-oriented Bachelor’s degree, and elective-course project activities. Projects are aimed primarily at solving problems of partners, and students can receive support for their solutions by participating in the Acceleration Program or the "Startup as a Diploma" competition. The university has launched a series of disciplines available in the format of microcourses, where each topic is a fully completed block of theory, video instructions for solving practical problems and virtual laboratory work. There is successful experience in the creation and development of youth design bureaus "Tankograd" (development of diesel engines) and "Asteroid" (development of engines for aircraft). All this is based on the scientific and innovative structure of the university.
Within the framework of the Advanced Engineering School, it is planned to expand this experience with a focus on training M-type specialists with competencies in two or more engineering and technical fields, entrepreneurial skills, and capable of working at high speeds. In this regard, it is planned to launch a whole range of educational programs − primarily Master's programs of two types: professional (technological), which is aimed at training personnel for the industry, and research − to ensure the reproduction of scientific and pedagogical personnel. Basic higher education programs "Advanced Engines" and "Special Smart City Technology" have been developed for talented students of the school. The structure of educational programs is based on a graph model (microcourses) and involves training through the implementation of an end-to-end project on the instructions of an industrial partner in project teams under the guidance of experienced mentors. Organizing internships and active participation in project support on the part of partner enterprises will make it possible to most effectively train entire teams of engineers who can quickly integrate into production.
Who will come to study at the Advanced Engineering School?
Firstly, school graduates who are planned to be involved in technical creativity on the basis of the Advanced Engineering School. Secondly, talented Bachelor's degree and Specialist students. By undergoing training in continuing professional education programs, participating in summer and winter schools within the framework of the School, they will be able to obtain the so-called prerequisites for admission to Master's programs. Thirdly, these are employees of industrial enterprises who need advanced training.
By 2030, it is planned to train over 1500 engineering leaders, involve more than 40000 schoolchildren in engineering creativity, and retrain and improve the skills of more than 700 employees of industry enterprises.
Where will the Advanced Engineering School be located?
A gradual deployment of scientific and educational infrastructure is planned, the central object of which will be the World-class Interuniversity Campus of the Chelyabinsk Region. At the same time, a distributed industrial complex is being created, including a large engineering and research centre in the city of Miass (AZ "URAL", SpetsAgregat Plant), a laboratory complex in Nizhny Tagil (UDMZ), a campus for training and developing the innovative potential of the region in Kurgan (Kurgandormash). The university will unite 5 key industrial partners in the Big Urals, 7 technology leaders and 14 universities throughout Russia into the Advanced Engineering School Ring. This will allow for the exchange of competencies, educational resources, students and teams, selecting and concentrating the best practices in the interests of the industry and the education of new engineers.