Russia: Successes and Challenges in Engineering Education

Photo of Vice Rector

When your country’s president jokes about the need for more engineers and not lawyers, although he studied law, you know that there’s a serious problem. In Russia, said recent Conversation Central show guest Sergei Umnyashkin—vice rector of the National Research University of Electronic Technology (formerly known as the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology [MIET]) —the No. 1 problem is in fact the decreasing popularity of engineering and natural sciences in higher education.

“When finishing high school, [students] prefer to continue their education in law or in economics but not in physics and mathematics,” says Sergei.

The trend is similar in other parts of the world, including Europe and the United States, he added. So, Sergei is working hard to change this trend—and he is seeing progress.

Besides supporting positive PR for engineering from the country’s president, Sergei says that his school partners with schools and companies around the world, including Synopsys, for students to gain access to the latest advanced technologies and tools. “It is important for the industry that students are familiar with up-to-date technologies so that the graduates will be ‘ready-to-work,’ best-prepared employees, having modern knowledge and skills,” he says.

Since 2006, Synopsys and the former MIET have been offering a joint masters program. “The interesting fact is that through the development of cooperation between MIET (a Russian university) and Synopsys (an American company) we built a bridge with our colleagues in Armenia. It’s a global world!”

Sergei added that a very important role in the development and implementation of that program belongs to the Director of the Synopsys Armenia Educational Department, Vazgen Melikyan. “We appreciate his efforts very much,” Sergei says.

Just as tall as he is in stature, Sergei is a man of many words to explain the engineering education challenge in Russia. Yet, when asked what his advice is to today’s youth, he simply said, “Believe that these are engineers who make the progress of the world.”

Listen to the complete interview with Sergei on the Conversation Central website.