Science and Technology in Russian Federation

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Day #4: Kazan

Road shows of All-Russian nanotechnology engineering competition for undergraduate and graduate students in Science Cities on the Volga finished in Kazan on September, 11.

Kazan is often called cradle of Russian Organic Chemistry. This city is connected with names of the great scientists, whose works entered the golden fund of chemical science. These are K.K.Klaus, N.N. Zinin, A.M.Butlerov, A.M.Zaytsev, V.V. Markovnikov, A.Ye.Arbuzov. Two universities of the city – Kazan Federal University (CFI) and Kazan National Research Technological University (KNRTU) – are proud of their eminent alumni and professors.

KNRTU

University of Technology in Kazan has recently celebrated 125-year anniversary. Over the years, it has given the country more than 74 thousand professionals. KNRTU graduates work in many regions of Russia and abroad. Many of them are heads of ministries and departments, universities, research institutes and industrial enterprises; academicians and corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of Russia and of Tatarstan, the winners of the honorary awards of the USSR, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tatarstan, Honored Scientists of Russia and Tatarstan.

The university prepares a huge amount of specialists for petrochemical industry. Every year the number of students enrolled in master's degrees in growing, and there are significantly more masters in KNRTU than those who received a bachelor's degree. According to Valentina Shkodich, Associate Professor of Synthetic rubber technologies department and Dean of the Faculty of Technology and processing of rubber and elastomers, 136 people were enrolled for master’s program of the faculty this year. Some of them are bachelors of KNRTU, decided to continue training in their specialty, and some are the employees of enterprises (currently it is still possible to enter the master's degree with a diploma of specialist and get a second degree in a narrow profile master’s program in chemical engineering for 2 years). There are 18 master's degree programs at the Faculty of Technology and processing of rubber and elastomers that orient students to innovative entrepreneurship in the field of oil refining, the introduction of research and design developments. It is planned that 46% of the entire Magistracy of the Russian Federation on the core areas will be concentrated precisely in KNRTU in future. The plan of the university is 2000 masters per year!

Valentina_Shkodich Valentina Shkodich

The department of elastomer processing carries out projects involving the use of nanotubes. The projects are implemented on the basis of "Nizhnekamskneftekhim" together now OCSiAl, which plans to build a plant in Kazan. The reactor for carbon nanotubes production is built In Novosibirsk (one of the projects of RUSNANO, where the company acts as an investor). The company is already preparing to release an experimental batch of nanotubes. And, if all goes normally, then the production will be deployed on an industrial scale. According to V.F. Shkodich, it is done a lot at the Department of elastomer processing of KNRTU to make this pilot batch successful.

Idea_Technopark

University of Technology has a joint master's educational program with the "SIBUR" company. Employees of the company come to KNRTU to find the best students, organize Students’ Scientific Research contests. Talented guys are paid an additional scholarship. In the future graduates go to work at the plants of the company or in NIOST, a subsidiary of the company, corporate research center for chemical technologies.

The main prize for undergraduate and graduate students for participation in the All-Russian nanotechnology engineering competition has to be a free two-week internship in one of the specialized nano-centers, or in affiliated companies. In particular, for KNRTU students it can become Novosibirsk OCSiAl, producing nanotubes and masterbatches based on them (concentrates of pigments, dyes, builders in basalt plastics and concrete) or DSC-Grad, the joint brainchild of RUSNANO and "Morton" construction companies designing the new technologies in construction (Kazan specialists in composite materials may be in demand there).

The road show moved from KNRTU to the "Idea" Technopark, where the center of nanotechnologes of Republic of Tatarstan is situated. Nanocenter focuses on three main areas – polymeric and composite materials, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Part of the infrastructure of the center is situated in "Himgrad" technopolis.

Kazan nanocenter has one major difference from other nanocenters, which we visited for 4 days of our trip. It equipped with mostly analytical equipment.

There is a laboratory of X-ray research methods, mass spectrometry and spectrophotometry, thermal analysis, chromatography, physical methods of analysis, optical analysis methods, and electron spectroscopy in the nanocenter. Such a laboratory facilities provide all the projects of nanocenter with necessary scientific researches: it is well known that high-tech projects require very large sums for analytical and technological equipment. For example, when it comes to creating a line of prototyping of polymer materials, the cost of "analytics" (if to purchase all the equipment) can reach several million dollars. It is clear that startups can not afford it. However, this is not required when there are common analytical laboratory facilities.

However, asking for "working" on these devices is forbidden, each device must have one "master" – highly skilled engineer, we were told in nanocenter. Such an organization of work is very effective – it improves the accuracy of research, the results become standardized and, last but not least, the financial and time costs are substantially reduced, which significantly increases the effectiveness of all start-ups of nanocenter.

Visiting 4 cities for 4 day of the trip - Saransk, Samara, Ulyanovsk and Kazan, we visited the universities and nanocenters of these science cities, meet people, on which the future of young engineering staff of Russia depends. Each region has its own models of teaching students, of preparing them for their future profession; there are problems in each region, which are solved in different ways. But what united these people; it's that the secret of success is further strengthening the link of universities with relevant enterprises and organizations, in with particular nano-centers. Then the students will have a real opportunity to make the embodiment of their engineering talents not just a hobby, but profession.

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