VPI — Years of Development and Innovation
Volzhsky Polytechnic Institute was established in 1965 as an evening faculty of Volgograd Polytechnic Institute. Since 1995 it has been VSTU’s (Volgograd State Technical University) branch. For more than 40 years, VPI has gone a long way from an evening faculty to a modern higher education institution with well-established facilities and highly-qualified staff. The distinctive features of the institute are the high volume of scientific and research work, good contacts with the industry and a high employment rate of its graduates.
The Institute’s Social Function
It is not easy to attract engineers from other cities on account of housing and salary problems, as well as the absence of a well-developed cultural and historical environment. VPI performs an important social function, which consists in the preparation of specialists for the local industry, as well as the creation of a social stratum of students and intelligentsia who ensure social stability and contribute to establishing a higher level of culture in Volzhsky and the areas east of the Volga River. Another essential consideration is the opportunity for young people to settle down, which, to a certain extent, helps solve the demographic problem.
The administration of Volzhsky provides a lot of assistance to the institute. Thus, the institute was provided with 2 buildings and a sport centre. Since 1996, substantial financial resources have been allocated to the institute from the city budget amounting in total to more than 57 million rubles over this period. The institute has also been provided with more than 20 apartments.
VPI has four educational buildings, an excellent sport centre and a recreation camp Dubravushka in the Volgo-Achtubinskaya Floodland. The institute contains more than 50 educational and research laboratories of different types. A new laboratory building was completed in 2007. It provided a basis for a new centre for education and innovation — its construction at a cost of 15 million rubles was financed from the institute’s own funds. The centre houses an autocentre, a production area for the manufacture of polymer materials, products and items of ‘small-scale chemistry’, laboratories and dedicated lecture halls. In 2008, the institute began work on the conversion of laboratory rooms at VNTK (the Volzhsky Complex of Science and Technology) to suit its purposes and the construction of another laboratory building which will provide a basis to a biotechnology centre, pilot production facilities, and a renewable energy centre to be established in cooperation with RusGidro. In 1999 — 2009, more than 22 million rubles was spent on the procurement of equipment, and more than 50 million — on the redecoration and purchase of buildings.
The institute’s 15 departments employ 200 lecturers, 20 doctors of sciences and professors, 126 candidates of sciences, 7 Honoured Workers of Higher Education, and 1 Merited Worker of Higher Education. There are nearly 30 post-graduate and doctoral students at VPI. Teaching is also carried out by professors of Moscow, Volgograd and other Russian cities’ leading universities.
62 candidate and doctoral degree research theses have been defended over the last five years. VPI’s research degree holder percentage has increased to 64.1%.
The number of VPI students of all modes of study amounts to 3,500.
Teaching is conducted in 9 areas and 10 specialities. A number of cooperation and personnel training agreements have been signed with Volzhsky-based companies. In 2004, the institute launched its first dedicated training programme at the Volzhskaya Hydropower Station in the area of process equipment. In 2007–2008, the institute also concluded agreements totaling to 980 thousand rubles with OAO Sibur-Russkiye Shiny to conduct dedicated teaching of specialists for OAO Sibur-Russkiye Shiny’s companies, as well as the bus manufacturing plant Volzhanin (30 thousand rubles). More agreements with other companies are being currently prepared.
The institute uses modern educational methods and techniques, such as distant learning methods and e-textbooks including those based on multidimensional databases and individual learning path methods.
The institute has also introduced an education quality management system. The lecturers of the institute have the opportunity to improve their qualifications by participating in diverse internship programmes at leading universities and by attending the institute’s course in the art of teaching. The institute conducts retraining courses for the local industry and various foreign language courses (at the institute’s language centre). VPI’s driving school is one of the best in the city.
Apart from pre-university courses, the institute has a polytechnical lyceum with a comprehensive pre-university training programme and runs a cooperation programme with the city’s secondary schools. The fierce competition for the admittance into the institute is a sign of its high popularity in the city.
Over 5,500 specialists and 3,100 bachelors have graduated from the institute since 1995. Only 5 VPI graduates were registered as unemployed in 2009. To broaden employment opportunities, the institute has established its own recruitment agency. More and more graduates find employment with small companies or set up their own businesses.
Many of the city’s top managers have graduated from VPI. More than forty VPI graduates have become doctors and candidates of sciences. VPI’s postgraduates and young lecturers have won a number of prestigious competitions, e. g. The Best Post-Graduate Student of RAN and The Best Young Scientist of RAN, as well as grants established by the President of Russia and the UMNIK competitions. More than 50 students of the institute have been granted scholarships of the President of Russia, the Government, and the regional and city administrations. VPI students are among the regular winners of the Best Student Competition among the higher education institutions based in Volzhsky.
The institute’s main areas of scientific research are as follows: Chemical Technology of Polymers: polymer materials, fire and heat protection; hybrid biopolymers; computer modelling and nanopolymer devices; nano- and microheterogenic modifiers; Industrial Ecology and Biotechnology: environmental problems and activities in the Volga and Ahtuba basin and Lake Elton; liquidation of accidental oil spills; ecological biotechnology, issues related to the use of local biological resources, development of biogas generation biotechnological processes; Organic Synthesis and Chemical Technology: biologically active and skeletal compounds, catalytic synthesis; Design of Machinery and Process Optimization: strength calculations, metal processing methods; IT and Computer Control Systems: computer-integrated teaching systems and smart databases; image recognition systems for the contactless monitoring of sturgeon and robotics; jet convertors; adaptive control systems. Operation of Vehicles and Road Haulage Management. Economic and Social Research: organizational environment monitoring; regional development issues; sociocultural studies.
Over the last two years, the institute has conducted research amounting to 11.3 million rubles. In 2008-2009, the volume of research per lecturer exceeded 30 thousand rubles. As compared with 1999, the volume of research grew 15 times, or twice as much against 2006. For the last two years and a half, 205 articles have been published in the national and foreign print media, 40 patents have been obtained, 53 applications for inventions have been filed, 18 monographs have been published, including 2 monographs covered by RFFI grants (The Russian Foundation for Basic Research), and ten software products have been registered. The institute is among the winners of RFFI and RGNF grants, as well as competitions in priority fields of science. The institute’s research products are used in the industrial sector, i. e. polymer modifiers, sorption materials, oil adsorption materials, rubber recipes, energy-saving devices, microcontrollers, process optimization methods, new kinds of abrasive tools, etc. VPI’s pilot production facility has produced over 10 tonnes of micro- and nanoheterogenic modifiers and polymer items. More than 100 tonnes of rubber articles have been produced in collaboration with VNTK.
The HSE laboratory has conducted the certification of jobs at more than 500 Russian companies. The biotechnology laboratory has a unique computerized gas vortex bioreactor and a fish tank facility to conduct research in breeding sturgeon and water biological resources, to develop solutions to the hydropower equipment biofouling problem, etc. VPI is authorized to do research relating to the liquidation of accidental oil spills in the Volgograd Region.
Student Research Work is an important contributor to the development of the institute’s creative potential and its most powerful lever for development. A student design bureau has been set up in cooperation with OAO Rusgidro and Volzhkaya Hydropower Station to do research into the renewable energy sources. A number of projects of the bureau have aroused interest on the part of the Rusgidro management. In 2008, the members of the bureau won an overwhelming majority of prizes at the regional competition Pure Energy. It was VPI students who won the grant of the Volzhanin bus manufacturing plant to conduct strength calculations of the bus body (150 thousand rubles). The institute’s environmental squad Ecos is involved in environmental activities all over the country. In 2005, the squad took part in the drills held by the Ministry of Emergency Situations on liquidating a fire on a tank ship and an accidental oil spill. In 2006, the Ecos environmental squad completed a considerable amount of nature protection work on Lake Elton in extremely adverse conditions. In 2007-2009, the squad participated in oil spill cleanup operations in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Chuvashia, the Kerch Strait and the Samara Region. In 2009, the squad took part in the establishment of an environmental camp in Kalmykia. The squad well-equipped and has numerous research facilities. The squad has received awards from a State Duma committee, the Vernadsky Fund, the Administrations of the Krasnodar Region, the Samara Region and Kalmykia; it was awarded prizes by Gazprom, the regional and city administrations, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The squad has earned over 1 million rubles in the past two years.
VPI students have won a number of prestigious national and regional competitions, proposed and implemented a number of projects relating to the developmental issues in Volzhsky.
In 2008, VPI students also won prizes at the 8th All-Russian Olympiad on the Economic Development of Russia in Moscow: the first prize in the Agricultural Technology and Management nomination, the second prize in Russia’s Secondary Industry Development nomination, and the third prize in the Organization Management nomination.
In 2009, 30 VPI students were actively involved in the 3rd International Student’s Scientific Conference ‘The Student’s Research Potential in the 21st Century’ (Stavropol). At the second All-Russian Competition for the best youth self-governance project called ‘Russia Is As Strong As You Are!’ they won the first prize in the nomination ‘Projects and Ideas Aimed at the Development of Innovative Research and Education Centres for Young People’ (Moscow).
At the 5th All-Russian Competition of business ideas and projects in innovation and technology called ‘Creating and Establishing Russia’s Future’, the VPI team won the first prize in the nomination ‘Projects and Ideas Geared To the Progress of Science and Technology in Russia’ and the first prize in the nomination ‘Projects and Ideas Geared to the Development of Innovative Educational Technologies’.
VPI’s Student’s Design Bureau has been awarded the first, second and third degree diplomas, as well as honorary mentions at the All-Russian Competition of OAO Rusgidro ‘Energy for Development — 2009’.
A. A. Chulkov, a VPU student, became the absolute winner of the XXIII International Olympiad in programming for accounting and analytical problems (Moscow) and was awarded an 8-day tour of Paris. The VPI team won the top three prizes at the International Competition ‘Future Gurus of Computer Programming’ (2009).
VPI students actively participated and won prizes in the youth forums ‘Seliger 2009’ and ‘The Youth Educational Forum 2009’ on Sarpinsky Island.
The Computerization of the Institute
The institute has an IT centre, 14 computer-equipped classrooms, 9 multimedia lecture halls, a local network, and 460 computers. In terms of computer equipment, the institute exceeds the average level in Russia. The institute’s website is one of the most visited university websites in Russia.
Social, Extracurricular and Character Building Activities
VPI has developed a strategy for character-building activities, it publishes a large-circulation 8-page newspaper «Volzhsky Politehnik». The institute can boast its VPI-Art Studio. The institute’s in-house TV called ‘100TV’ was set up in 2003. The institute is among the leaders in city spartakiads (Olympics); it has prepared 8 masters of sport, and 200 category-holding athletes. The institute has a trade union committee, a student council, an operative squad, etc. VPI’s student union won the first prize at the Union Competition of the Southern Federal Okrug.