Sputnik has talked to Margarita Stoyanova, vice president of the Scientific-Educational Complex at Bauman MSTU and head of the Inginirium project, to find out what areas of engineering are popular today among teenagers, as well as which countries have the most active schoolchildren in the field.
Sputnik: In 2019, you implemented several digital economy projects for schoolchildren and teachers. What results have been achieved?
Margarita Stoyanova: One of the projects is the "Young Engineer Course", an online project for schoolchildren and teachers. It consists of three main blocks: 3D modelling, robotics, and digital materials science. To date, more than 6,000 schoolchildren from 30 different countries have been involved in the engineering project, not only including children from the CIS countries.
On the map, we have marked the countries that have joined us: Iceland, Algeria, and Australia have joined us. It's great that we have managed to transfer BMSTU's experience and competences so far away, despite the territorial boundaries and time differences; this was very important for us.
Another project is the virtual reality-format Composite Battle International Hackathon, which involved more than 90 schoolchildren from all over the world. The kids had to create a wing of the MC-21 aircraft from composite materials in virtual reality, observing the correct sequence of actions. Completion time and correctness of actions were assessed. A student from Belarus won the competition.
Sputnik: What projects have been launched in 2020?
Margarita Stoyanova: In 2020, we managed to launch "Engineering Christmas 2.0" quests in six countries: France, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Belgium, and Serbia. We held engineering workshops dedicated to the New Year. The kids made a glowing Christmas tree night light. Of course, this programme was designed for younger students.
Our next project is the "New Digital Technologies at School" exhibition, which was attended by over a thousand people. Last year, the exhibition was held in Bratislava (Slovakia) and Budapest (Hungary). Experts on the digital world, who work with schoolchildren, produce equipment, and have accumulated significant competencies in engineering training at school and university, went there to transfer their experience, knowledge, and skills to colleagues from Russian Centres for Science and Culture (RCSC).
Sputnik: Which countries have shown the most interest in engineering?
Margarita Stoyanova: Many children from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan usually enter BMSTU. It was logical and obvious for us that the demand in those countries would be quite high. But at the same time, it was very pleasant to see enthusiasm and a spark of interest in countries where we didn’t expect such a reaction, to be honest - Slovakia, Iceland, Algeria and Australia.
Of course, in these countries there're not as many schoolchildren interested in engineering and Russian universities as in CIS states; the number of those interested is more limited, where engineering creativity and Russian universities, including BMSTU, are not a priority. But it is very important for us to find these bright children and ignite a love for engineering and leading Russian universities in them.
Sputnik: What do you think of teenagers' interest in engineering?
Margarita Stoyanova: Every year, interest in engineering is only growing. We see high demand for IT-related areas: artificial intelligence, big data, programming, robotics, and 3D modelling. At the same time, since we have significant competencies in materials science, we are very pleased that teenagers are starting to show interest in narrower specialisations and areas.
Today’s markets are rapidly growing; there is a lack of highly qualified personnel. While training schoolchildren, on the one hand, we help them to decide on their future job, and on the other hand, we tell them about different kinds of jobs.
Sputnik: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your projects?
Margarita Stoyanova: The Young Engineer Course online programme was in great demand during the project’s implementation in 2019, but we noted a particular increase in activity when the world faced the coronavirus pandemic. We are very pleased that the course has proved to be really useful even in the post-project period.
We planned to go on with the "New Digital Technologies at School" exhibition in March, but we had to adjust our plans. We hope that we'll be able to hold exhibitions at the RCSCs in Sofia (Bulgaria) on 22-24 October and in Minsk (Belarus) on 29-31 October. We invite all interested teachers, students, and schoolchildren to visit our exhibitions.
During the pandemic, we have held several online workshops on digital material science to keep the audience interested and to support our colleagues who have found themselves in a difficult situation.
Sputnik: What are your further plans regarding the development of your projects?
Margarita Stoyanova: The Young Engineer Course is publicly available, you can still take it. The interest in this project is only growing, so we plan to support it for a long time. As for the exhibition, we are now dealing with logistical issues. We hope that by the end of the year we’ll be able to realise it.
It would also be interesting to develop online programmes for young children next year if we have such an opportunity and the project is supported by Rossotrudnichestvo. In Russia, we have very great experience in holding online and offline courses for younger students, so I want to transfer it to the world and share it with colleagues.
Moreover, Evgeny Primakov paid an official visit to BMSTU. We have preliminarily agreed that Inginirium project centres will be launched on the basis of the RCSC and will operate there. This is currently just an idea that we are actively working on.
In addition, with these projects, we've managed to establish very strong cooperation with Kazakhstan. On 17 September, our franchise was launched on the basis of the university in Almaty. The students have already started working with Inginirium programmes online under our supervision.