Mr. Igor M. ZUGA: “Law on engineering will enable industrial sector development and increase competitive capability of Russian economy”
Russian engineering school and engineering education system establishment and development within almost two hundred years stand above everything else in the history of Russian innovative development in ХIХ-ХХ centuries.
Russian engineering school within two centuries has been a governmental tool providing solution for urgent state challenge which is achieving technology leadership or at least parity with industrially developed countries in key military and civil areas. This state challenge setting and solution was possible only by unifying goals for three governmental areas: science, education and industrial sector.
Since its establishment Russian engineering school has been based on the idea of these three components (science, education, industrial sector) unanimity with prevailing industrial constituent. That is why reliable success criterion of Russian educational and scientific activities carried out by Russian engineers, scientists or professors was roads, bridges, sluices, channels, jetties, fortified structures, constructed and brought into batch production engines, ships, cannons etc.
Favorite statement of Nicholas II, Russian Emperor: “We are engineers” indisputably confirms excellent reputation of XIX century Russian engineer in the capacity of scientific and technical manager bearing personal responsibility for complex engineering project implementation. Concept of general designer for complex technical system was formed later in the USSR in particular on the basis of cooperative solution of scientific, technical and organizational issues with personal responsibility for eventual outcome.
It is important to mention that since construction of Saint Petersburg – Moscow Railway and up to the epoch of atomic and outer-space USSR projects prime designers of key military and civil projects reported directly to the Head of the State de facto and de jure. Nowadays there are no doubts that establishment of railroad industry in 1840-1880 and atomic and outer-space industries in 1940-1980 was possible only by virtue of governmental support of Russian engineering school and engineering education system. These two technology breakthroughs enabled Russia to enter on the list of industry-leading countries and made a great contribution to technical environment of nowadays.
Basic principles of Russian engineering school were laid down in the Institute of Railway Engineers which was established in 1809 by decree of Alexander I of Russia. By 1830 the Institute became a highly-respected education enterprise in Russia and academic background level of its graduates equaled the highest European level of that time.
In the Institute students were given fundamental education and simultaneously they were oriented to receive practical skills. Requirements to graduates’ projects were so high that it was possible to start construction right after excellent project defending. The first evidence of educational system success was construction of Tsarskoye Selo Railway in 1837 by Russian railway engineers (only seven years after the first Stephenson’s railway in England).
Construction and operation of Tsarskoye Selo Railway represented complex of scientific-research, design and experimental works which led to major technical solutions providing economically efficient operation of railway transport in Russian environment. Tsarskoye Selo Railway is practical evidence of “…advantage which can be brought to the state, people and shareholders”. This event provided fast moving development of railways which became a basis of industrial sector, engineering science and education in Russia in XIX century.
XIX century in Russia witnessed the establishment of educational enterprises as follows: Institute of Technology in Saint-Petersburg, School of Technology in Moscow, Institutes of Technology in Kharkov and Tomsk and a number of other educational institutions of higher education. All these institutes were arranged on the model of the Institute of Railway Engineers. All of them had five-year educational program and students with good mathematical background were showed up during competitive entrance examinations so it was possible to start teaching mathematics, mechanics and physics at a rather high level within the first year and provide students with necessary fundamental knowledge within the first two years.
Consequently by the end of XIX century Russia possessed thousands of world-class engineers who accumulated wide practical, scientific and educational experience of previous generations. Good standing of Russian educational system for engineers was widely recognized – president of Boston (currently Massachusetts) University introduced educational system of the Emperor School of Technology of higher education (currently Bauman State Technical University) firstly in the university headed by him and then in other American higher education institutions.
It is unique system of engineering education in Russia and engineers experienced in scientific, educational activities and world-class projects implementation who allowed constructing Trans-Siberian Railway, the world longest railway (9,288.2 km) within record-breaking time limits – only for 15 years (1891-1905). The construction committee was headed by the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia who promised the lieges to construct Trans-Siberian Railway “with Russian materials, for Russian money and with Russian hands”.
In post-revolutionary times (after 1917) Russian educational system experienced thrills. After 1917 many highly educated people left Russia including around three thousands of degreed engineers who afterwards made considerable contribution into development of high-technology branches both in Europe and in the USA.
Nowadays a number of problems in engineering education and low level of scientific, technical and technology development of the Russian Federation made necessary development and enacting Federal Law on Engineering and Engineers’ Activity in the Russian Federation.
Existing issues include as follows:
- High dependence on imports in certain Russian economy sectors
- Severe shortage of engineers and scientists of most productive age group (35-55 years)
- No recognition for engineering specialties
- Discrepancy between graduates skills and market needs
- No proper personal responsibility of engineers for final engineering and technical solutions
- Out-of-date regulatory technical documentation
- No forceful impetus which would make business apply modern technical solutions when executing different projects
Taking into account the above-mentioned issues, development of legal framework regarding Engineering and Engineers’ Activity in the Russian Federation is necessary. Especially when geopolitical tension is rising and sanctions regarding high-technology products import ban are continuing to be imposed on Russia. New law shall be designed to increase scientific, technical and technology level, level of engineering disciplines recognition and competitive capability of Russian engineers at labor market.
This is exactly why Interim Committee of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on the Development of the Russian Legislature on Engineering and Engineers’ Activity was established in January 2014. The Council of Federation found out that it is important to make engineering activities a priority even in legislative regulatory sphere. Such law development envisages close cooperation of public authorities and professional expert community.
Major Committee tasks include as follows: developing draft federal laws on Engineering in the Russian Federation, on Engineers’ Activity in the Russian Federation, on Professional Engineers in the Russian Federation; establishing expert group and expert grounds to elaborate legislative initiatives and their support in the Council of Federation of the Russian Federation; working over inquiries and proposals of professional and business community regarding legal-regulatory and legal-technical base development in engineering design, facilities development and operation.
Mentioned law-in-drafts are necessary to form legal basis for engineering in Russia, recognize it as a type of economic activity, regulate companies activities in the area of engineering at all stages of production lifecycle including buildings and structures. Law-in-drafts will define terminology, powers of public authorities and self-governing authorities, rights and liabilities of scientific, design, educational institutes and industrial enterprises in expanding opportunities to develop new technologies, in engineering design, facilities development and operation.