FIEP and eNano Conference on Engineering Education Has Highlighted the Key Role of Technoentrepreneurship Component

29 April 2021

The CEE2021 engineering education conference took place online on April 27 under the topic “Engineer 2021: new educational solutions for a new reality”. The event has been organized by ANO “eNano” and the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP) (part of the VEB.RF Group), with support from the Bauman Moscow State Technical University and the Kompozity Rossii Interindustry Engineering Center (IEC). The information partners were the Association for Engineering Education of Russia and the Foundation for Assistance to Innovations.

More than 450 participants registered for the conference, including those from eight neighboring countries. Opening the event, Igor Valdman, Director General of ANO “eNano”, reminded that the restructuring of engineering personnel training should be carried out taking into account the Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development of Russia until 2035, the National Technological Initiative to develop breakthrough areas, and the impact of the pandemic on the implementation of complex engineering projects.

The modern engineer, working in the innovation sector and wishing to remain in demand as technology changes rapidly in production, must have the professional skills of a technology entrepreneur. This was the view of the majority of those attending the conference.

Stanislav Nisimov, Director of the Department of Education Programs and Professional Skills at FIEP, gave a presentation on “Human Resource Potential of the Deep Tech Industry: Evolution of Advanced Present Professions”. He described how the Fund is helping to build the right competencies through education to promote the most advanced technologies to the masses. “Innovative businesses have a very functional approach to educational programs: they want cheap and fast programs with guaranteed results. It is important to provide business with the tools to influence the process of creating an educational program. We focus on practical training for engineers. Other development institutions have virtually none of this,” the FIEP representative said. He explained how the demand for innovative business has changed over the past ten years. “The wave of applications for innovation management programs has come to naught. However, there has been a noticeable increase in demand from medical companies, including for the promotion of new medical technologies in the Russian market. The ordering of electronics and optoelectronics topics is gradually decreasing. The demand for new material programs is steadily high and gradually increasing. In recent years, there has been a demand for training for alternative energy.”

Cooperation with the Fund has a significant impact on the organizational and management structure of higher education institutions, and they are beginning to work more actively with the industry. “They get special units that, as the organs of senses, help them to interact, to work with the external production order. As a result, after 72% of our projects, the connection between enterprises and universities continues, the joint R&D projects are underway, and new educational projects appear,” Stanislav Nisimov said.

Alina Zvereva, Marketing Director of ExoAtlet Russia, a manufacturer of medical exoskeletons (a portfolio company of RVC BioFund, resident of the Skolkovo Foundation of VEB.RF Group), spoke about how the educational program created with the support of RUSNANO’s FIEP had increased the geography of exoskeleton training and the quality of education. “The program, which has already been tested, fully meets and even exceeds our demand. It’s not just workshops giving the basics of operating exoskeletons, and providing practice for dealing with contingency situations. The program has additionally included such topics as cellular processes in exorehabilitation, patient psychology, proper nutrition, and economics of exorehabilitation,” Alina Zvereva said. The program has been translated into English and is used to train specialists in overseas clinics.

“All employers require from university graduates not only profound technological knowledge but also a set of competencies related to the ability to work in teams, ensure scientific cooperation, or manage the product lifecycle,” warned Dmitry Guzhelya, Head of the Evaluation and Methodology Department of ANO Russia—Land of Opportunities. “We suggested creating university-based competence centers that would conduct an entry assessment of first-year students in various software competences, primarily managerial and business competencies, and on this basis would build individual educational programs and personal profiles so that the strengths of each specialist could then be used with maximum efficiency. The output will be a more efficient workforce for specific employers and the economy as a whole.”

Svetlana Andreeva, Commercial Director of the TechnoSpark Entrepreneurship School (part of the FIEP investment network), spoke about the importance of entrepreneurial skills in innovative technology industries. The school runs the #startupdiplom entrepreneurial practice, which allows universities to arrange full-time student internships in TechnoSpark’s technology startups. The program consists of two key stages: diagnostics of entrepreneurial competencies and candidate selection based on technology developed at TechnoSpark, as well as a full-time internship during 9 months, where students build technology startups in partnership with experienced entrepreneurs. This approach reduces the time to enter a real business from several years to months.

As a result, the students who have completed the program can bring the skills learned to their university at the end of their internship. The university can retain those students who would like to take up entrepreneurship but see it as an alternative to studying. In addition, there is an opportunity for the university to become a center for the formation of an ecosystem for technological entrepreneurship at a regional level.

The program was launched in 2018, and 15 partner universities are participating in it. The second graduation of 11 trainees will take place in May. New selection programs are already starting at universities for participants who will come for internships in September.

The Tomsk State University (TSU) is one of the active participants in the #startupdiploma program. As a result of last year’s graduation, one student was offered to stay at TechnoSpark, two were offered jobs at other companies in the FIEP network of nanocenters, and one student started his own business. Accoring to Viktoria Makoveeva, Director of the TSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Deputy Director of the Institute of Economics and Management, the most important fact is that the entrepreneurship course is built into all undergraduate programs at the university.

Andrey Dubrovsky, the graduate of the inter-university technoentrepreneurship program, who now works at the head office of OCSiAl from the investment portfolio of Rusnano Management Company, spoke about the demand for engineers with entrepreneurial skills. The inter-university program was created based on the RUSNANO-MFTI Technoentrepreneurship Department and also brings together NRNU MEPhI, NRTU MISIS, and RANEPA. At OCSiAl, it is the main source of personnel for the sales, marketing, and product development departments. “The RUSNANO-MFTI Chair trains specialists to become intermediaries between science and business professionals. The two groups have different world views and speak different languages. The Technoentrepreneurship Department teaches how to find common ground with those and others, and to establish communication,” Andrey Dubrovsky said. According to him, this is because the commercial, business aspects are studied there by students who are also defending their engineering theses at the same time. OCSiAl employs 15 graduates of the Technoentrepreneurship Department, including Vice President and CEO of OCSiAl Energy, Andrey Senyut, who is responsible for the application of nanotubes in lithium-ion energy storage devices.

The modern engineer must be in the context of the latest technological developments in the world, as they provide the highest level of productivity and set the trends to which investors respond. In the 20s, a new agenda will be set by engineering solutions related to the post-carbon economy, a revolution in biology, as well as artificial intelligence, nature-like technologies, and new materials with programmable properties, says Dmitry Sanatov, a partner at the Center for Strategic Research North-West.

Summing up the conference, Igor Valdman pointed to the need for engineering training in close cooperation with industrial partners: “It is very important to engage in soft skills development around real technology hard projects. Then communication and entrepreneurial competencies will become the real foundation for projects.”

Reference

The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs was established in 2010 in accordance with Federal Law No. 211-FZ “On reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.” The Fund aims to develop the innovative infrastructure in the sphere of nanotechnology and implement the educational and infrastructure programs already started by RUSNANO.

The supreme collegial management body of the Fund is the Supervisory Board. Under the Fund’s Charter, the competence of the Supervisory Council, in particular, includes the issues of determining the priority directions of the Fund’s activity, as well as its strategy and budget. The Chairman of the Fund’s Executive Board, the collegial management body, is the Chairman of the Board of Management Company RUSNANO LLC Sergey Kulikov.

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ANO eNANO is part of the RUSNANO Group. The company was established in 2013 by the decision of the RUSNANO Fund for Infrastructure Educational Programs in order to implement the program for the e-Learning system development and to effectively solve the problems of training and retraining of engineering and management personnel for high-tech companies and enterprises, as well as to popularize natural science education and the foundations of nanotechnology among young people and schoolchildren. The company has a license to carry out educational activities in the field of vocational professional education (No. 038412 dated May 18, 2017, issued by the Moscow City Department of Education).

More about the company — www.edunano.ru