LETI Rector Viktor Sheludko: "We are the priority!"
Viktor Sheludko, Rector of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI," wrapped up the last year and shared plans for 2022.
The year 2021 saw an event that will determine the development of our university in the next decade. LETI became one of the leading universities in Russia – a participant of the 'Priority 2030' program. First Electrotechnical will receive the basic part of the grant (100 million rubles annually) and the special part of the grant in the area of "industry and/or territorial leadership" (426 million rubles until the end of 2022).
We talked to Viktor Sheludko, Rector of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI," about how the university prepared for the competition, what global goals the university has set for itself, and how they will be achieved.
– How significant is it for the university to participate in 'Priority 2030'?
– Over the past two years, in my speeches to the team, I have repeatedly emphasized the importance of our participation in the program that will replace 'Project 5-100.' We began preparing our application back in 2019, and the strategy sessions with experts from the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management were mainly aimed at this. The work was very intense, almost 24/7.
The preparation of the application was coordinated by the first vice-rector Mikhail Kupriyanov, Sergey Tarasov, the heads of our promising areas: Oleg Markelov, Alexander Semenov, Kirill Krinkin, Sergey Shevchenko, Anna Glazova, Denis Filatov, deans, heads of various departments of the university – over 100 people in total.
I am deeply convinced that 'Priority 2030' will allow our university to solve the problems, which have been unsolved for at least the last ten years. These are global infrastructure projects that require serious investments. No less importantly, the 'Priority' gives us the opportunity to accumulate experience, improve the competence of our staff, and create research teams that can participate in state programs and contests, not only of the Ministry of Education and Science but also of other ministries. We have been noticed and are being considered as possible partners by the largest corporations in Russia, which is very important in terms of ensuring the financial sustainability of the university.
– What are the main strategic goals of the university's development in this program?
– If we talk about the image of LETI as we envision it: it is an open, cooperating, research, and innovative university. LETI should become a leader in frontier research and advanced training based on cutting-edge digital technologies. It is possible in cooperation with our academic and industrial partners.
Unlike the 'Project 5-100,' the 'Priority' grant is allocated not to improve the current activities of the university but to achieve unique results manifested in strategic projects. Currently, there are three such projects in the program. Their number may rise in the future.
We consider the electronics project to be our flagship. This is where we plan to obtain unique results in the first year of the program. The key to the project's success is the existing groundwork and successful cooperation with the leading partners in the established consortium with the Ioffe Physical Research Institute and the Institute for Physical Research (Sarov). The project will create a competence center in the development of photonic integrated circuits. The developed prototypes will be put into production as early as 2023 and manufactured at OKB-Planeta, Ingekt Research, and others for Rosatom, Almaz-Antey Concern, and Russian Railways.
The project "New Technologies for Information Interconnection of Objects and Territories" is aimed at developing solutions for the exploitation of the terahertz frequency range. The created technologies will be in demand in systems of machine-to-machine interaction and the Internet of Everything.
In the project "Strong Hybrid Intelligence Technologies for Diagnosis, Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation in Applied Medicine," we advance the concept of strong hybrid intelligence based on the use of different methods and technologies, as well as the symbiosis of artificial and natural intelligence.
– Please tell us about the plans for the campus development.
– LETI must transition from a university with standard classrooms to an open-space university. This will ensure that knowledge and information can be obtained anywhere on campus, at any time of day, and in different languages.
For this purpose, it is planned to organize a modern multimedia navigation system (mobile application, interactive map, electronic kiosks, etc.), equipped recreational areas and co-working centers. A multifunctional public space, the Forum, will be created between Building 3 and Building 7. On the campus, there will be sports fields with exercise machines. As early as next year, tens of millions of rubles will be allocated for these purposes.
There are plans to implement several other large-scale projects: construction of a new dormitory for 324 people, reconstruction of out-of-town recreation centers, and establishment of a new education and research center jointly with Gazprom.
– How to involve all employees and students in projects of transformation and development of the university?
– There is no doubt that communication is important here. We will talk in detail about the progress of strategic projects, campus development, and social programs. We are now preparing targeted support programs for young faculty (preferential loans, housing) and the older generation. Each employee should feel what such projects give to him personally. And this is, first of all, comfortable conditions for work and study, and decent wages. At the Academic Council on December 2, I especially highlighted the importance of working on the 'Priority 2030' program calmly and according to plan. I asked the heads of departments and offices to ensure that.
– How will the state monitor the implementation of the plans?
– Next fall, the universities participating in the program will report on the results of their first year of work. It is important that the principle of rotation is announced: the candidate universities can refine their programs and join the basic group. In turn, universities in the basic group may be transferred from the second to the first. And vice versa, if the results are unsatisfactory, the level can be lowered. We are aiming at moving to the first group with funding up to 1 billion rubles a year. This is a great challenge, but I am sure we have all the necessary resources.
Interview by Daria Andryushina, editor-in-chief of The Electric newspaper