The country needs special — synthetic specialists — supermen with the “nano-“ prefix. To this end, pupils at school should be already taught new technologies. The opinion was expressed by Doctor of Engineering, Director General of the Close Joint-Stock Company “Concern ‘Nanoindustry’”, Mikhail Ananian.
Mikhail Ananian: “The aim of setting up the Nanoindustry Career Guidance Center (NCGC) is to introduce to the mind of engineering community the notions of nanotechnology being a drastic remedy for domestic industry modernization”
Mikhail Arsenovich Ananian — Doctor of Engineering, President of the National Association of Nanoindustry, Director General, Close Joint-Stock Company “Concern ‘Nanoindustry’”. Production delivered by the Concern includes, inter alia, “Striboil” antiwear nanomodifier, nanotechnological complex based on scanning tunnel microscope “UMKA”, germicidal spray based on silver colloidal solution
Mikhail Arsenovich, despite the crisis, you put a notice on your organization’s site about hiring chemical engineers, designers, electronic engineers, programmers. What’s your assessment of staff training in the nanotechnology area?
— First of all, unexpectedly for myself, we received a stream of applications mainly from recent graduates. While reviewing their CVs, we took note of the following circumstance. For example, a person graduated from the institute with the “nano-“ prefix qualifications. Where is he/she employed now? At the bank. Another one deals with logistics. A third person sells something in a kiosk.
The following paradox took place: young hopefuls having qualification in nanotechnology are not in demand by industrial enterprises, as there are no specialists there who could pose a problem, introduce them into the world of real nanotechnologies, provide with necessary tools. Only a small part of them can find job at academic institutes or enter the PhD program. The rest have to work not as trained or try to go abroad. Several years ago, we discussed the problem with Academician Yuri Tretiakov, one of the most outstanding specialists in the nanotechnology area. “Yuri Dmitrievich, I said, you graduate about 25 top specialists a year. We have an offering to set up the Nanoelectronics Center in the town of Friazino. Let us take two of your groups of graduates and establish a powerful cluster at once?” He answered: “You see, they have a problem — no place to stay at. A lot of graduates go abroad”. Then we approached the Moscow Region governor with a letter requesting to build a dwelling house for recent graduates in the town of Friazino. Our hope was that they all would marry each other and in a couple of years we should have a team of nanotechnologist professionals. However, no answer followed.
According to the data of the trade union of researchers of Russia, within the last ten years, 500 to 800 thousand Russian researchers have found jos abroad, including those specialists who could have become the cream of domestic nanotechnology. Now that the government has declared that 100–150 thousand nanotechnologists will be trained by 2015, it is still necessary to find the way to provide them with jobs and to avoid losing them for future nanoindustry.
This is a rather unexpected aspect of the problem with staff for nanotechnologies. What should be done?
— Executives at the majority of enterprises in the area of machine building complex, power engineering, agro-industrial complex, construction material industry, housing and utilities infrastructure are not informed about nanotechnologies scientific and applied potential. Moreover, as a rule, they oppose vigorously any offers for possible cooperation even in terms of nanotechnologies application directly in their enterprises interest. This circumstance is to a large degree accounted for by the fact that trained technicians-and-engineers are absent, with few exceptions, from the enterprises. Owing to their qualification, technicians-and-engineers could have facilitated introduction of nanotechnology elements both into engineering processes and into the output. Accordingly, possessing equipment necessary for these purposes is absent. Therefore, nanotechnology innovative abilities are not built into new projects and developments, regulations and standards, thus ensuring more extensive lagging of basic industries behind the contemporary technology level.
It seems to me that the question regarding high-quality retraining for certified specialists at industrial enterprises, branch institutes and in social sphere has been ripe for a long time already. Probably, it should have been right to start with such retraining to prepare intellectual and engineering basis to accept recent graduates. We have been discussing the issue for years at all round-table meetings, conferences and in the press.
We decided to set up the Nanoindustry Career Guidance Center (NCGC) based on industrial park “Slava”. The aim of establishing the Center is to introduce to the mind of engineering society the notion of nanotechnology being a drastic remedy for domestic industry modernization. The Center will retrain specialists in the area of construction, farm enterprises and social sphere. Apparently, enterprises and scientific and industrial centers, and trade unions are interested in the Center activity. The Nanoindustry Career Guidance Center will start its work in 2010. Besides that, the Center will provide a program for remote specialist training, especially as we have substantial methodological support in the regions provided by eleven state universities that are members of the National Association of Nanoindustry.
How do you evaluate recent graduates who come to get a job at the Concern?
— Differently, in general. Part of them declares immediately that they expect career advancement and wage rise. Along with that, they are trying to minimize the time they spend on work. Their strong points are that almost all of them are advanced PC users and know foreign languages well. Unfortunately, the following psychological pattern is popular among the youth: to work no longer than a year at the same place. Therefore, when such specialists join a stable and hardworking group, within two months they begin to look for a job via the Internet to earn more money. All these “hoppers” learn little in the long run. They gain insignificant immediate benefit, no more than that — and will never become solid specialists.
In 2010, the Nanoindustry Career Guidance Center will start its work based on industrial park “Slava”. The Nanoindusty Career Guidance Center activity will be targeted at solving the following problems:
Analysis and generalization of experience in introducing nanotechnologies into industrial objects.
Organizations interested in the Nanoindustry Career Guidance Center activity are as follows:
Proceeding from these factors, our selection is rather strict, but those employees who stay are indeed carried away by their work, the more so because we set real-life problems for them. Success in solving the problems leads to career advancement, and future theses, and gradual social package extension.
Graduates of which institutes of higher education do you hire?
— Graduates from the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Moscow Power Engineering Institute (Technical University), Moscow Institute of Radio Engineering, Electronics and Automatics, Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys come for employment with our company. We have recently participated in the job fair at the Lomonosov Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology. 18 persons signed up for an interview with our company there. We shall see now, which of them we are going to hire.
Who do you still give preference to? Probably, to the ones who got specialized education on nanotechnologies?
— You know, everything is relative in this world. I believe that basic education is necessary but further specialization of a professional largely depends on his/her personal infatuation with work on “nanotechnology”. Multifactors of nanotechnology single it out as a specific area of interdisciplinary scientific and engineering knowledge. Therefore, training of respective research, engineering and worker staff requires developing non-traditional special educational programs of different levels. These are courses of lectures, laboratory work and learning aids for specialists wishing to get the second higher education. Then — the same is needed for retraining and refresher courses for teaching staff. The next level comprises students. And finally come optional classes for schoolchildren, students of technical schools, colleges and vocational training schools. Nano-elements are introduced to the largest possible extent into their physics, chemistry, biology and informatics curricula.
According to the current forecasts, the demand for specialists in the nanotechnology area in 2010–2015 will make at least 0.8–0.9 million persons in the USA, 0.5–0.6 million persons in Japan, 0.3–0.4 million persons in Europe, 0.1–0.2 million persons in the Pacific Region, and about 0.1 million persons — in other countries.
Russia has not been represented in these forecasts at all. We are significantly late with introducing “nanotechnology” special subject into higher education curricula. Now we need to catch up and to train future nanotechnologists literally from “the tender nail” as it is done in technologically advanced countries.
I would like to emphasize again that nanotechnologies evolution and implementation is a purely system task, and the technological breakthrough possibility in Russia will largely depend on training of a sort of “special mission units”, i.e., groups of highly skilled specialists, who have knowledge in such areas as physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, applied and computational mathematics, electrical engineering, material science, machine building. Training of such kind of systems engineers is an important task, which our higher education institutions practically have not been solving.
Besides developing special training programs, what other conditions are required for efficient staff training in the nanotechnology area?
— Nowadays, there is a principle weak point in the staff training system for nanotechnology area — there is no commercialization of affordable domestic scientific instruments and specialized equipment for mass student and schoolchildren audience. Purchased expensive imported devices and equipment are to a considerable degree intended not for training but for carrying out scientific research, which is undoubtedly important in its own way. However, students and all the more so schoolchildren are not allowed to work with this equipment as a rule. At that, a natural question arises — what shall we do in 3 to 5 years when the equipment purchased abroad becomes obsolete? Shall we thoughtlessly spend budgetary funds again?
The situation has specifically become the matter of argument at the meeting of chancellors and vice-chancellors of 18 state universities. The meeting was organized by the National Association of Nanoindustry jointly with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation. The attendees’ general opinion is that it is necessary to organize systematic work to prepare complete sets of didactic materials, corresponding to specialization of a higher education institute, to develop and arrange industrial production of laboratory facilities accessible to students. In the framework of this effort, it seems reasonable to involve the leading researchers of universities from different regions as experts.
We would like the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation to hear these urging voices. And then, maybe it will think about development of learners’ guides and laboratory facilities for schoolchildren. Time will show …