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International Engineering Center: Q&A

Last week, MADI, together with our Russian and South Korean partners (the representative office of the OKTA association, the Korean Business Development Center, Russian companies), started work on the establishment of the International Engineering Center (IEC). Acting Rector Andrei Keller answered our questions about the center's tasks and the role of the university in its work.

- Andrey Vladimirovich, according to media reports, one of the priority tasks of the center is the implementation of a two-way transfer of technologies: from Russia to Korea and from Korea to Russia. What does it mean and what specific technologies will be involved here?

The technology transfer, will mean, first of all, the development of new high-tech products using foreign technologies with localization of the production in Russia. At the moment, we already have offers from the Korean side for the transfer of technologies for production of LED lighting devices and road signs, pavement reconditioning, construction technologies and materials. As you can see, the Center is not there yet, but requests and offers are already coming in.

At the same time, we will be looking at the reverse process as well: the development of new products based on Russian know-how for production in Korea. Entrepreneurs in the initiative group are already implementing a project for the transfer of technology for production of heat-insulating material. It is planned to set up a production facility in Korea with equipment developed and manufactured in Russia. 

- When will the International Engineering Center start its operations?

After a number of working meetings and negotiations, the agreements have been reached between the key participants in the partnership. The process of registration of legal documents for the center has also started. All required procedures are expected to be completed in February. In the next two or three months, the research, engineering, production and educational organizations of Russia, Korea and, possibly, other countries will be signing agreements to join the center. And, finally, the full-fledged operation of the IEC will start in April - May 2021.

- What are the advantages of the integration in achieving common goals, joining efforts and intellectual potential of the research teams?

First of all, I want to emphasize that the center will be a consortium of independent business entities. It will integrate the efforts of research, engineering and industrial groups from different universities, research institutions and non-governmental engineering companies. Based on the international experience, this is the form that makes it possible to effectively perform a wide range of complex knowledge-based tasks in the interests of developing the real economy.

Normally, even reputable universities like ours, as well as research institutes, do not have many engineering teams that can perform engineering and technological jobs on a turnkey basis, from a technical design specifications to a prototype that meets all customer requirements. By integrating such teams and reinforcing their intellectual potential with the competencies of the International Engineering Center, we will be able to create full-value high-tech products for a wide range of work orders. And we started receiving first requests immediately after the information about the establishment of the new Center was published in the media.

- What role will MADI play in the Center's activities?

MADI will be the base platform for the International Engineering Center. Our university will be involved in all projects related to the development, construction and operation of roads, automotive equipment, traffic management, etc. We expect mixed teams of Russian and Korean engineers to work on projects, which is what the Korean side expressed interest in.

- What are the benefits for the university from being such a base platform?

The benefits are obvious. First of all, it is a chance to participate in relevant research and development. This will be realized by bringing together research and engineering teams on our site, able to deal with challenging and lucrative engineering tasks. This is important because, if managed properly, such teams may become the core of the innovation ecosystem of the university, consolidating its intellectual capital.

Another important advantage will be the testing and technological production sites housed at MADI, which will be used for testing high-tech and innovative solutions, research and educational activities. This, in its turn, is a huge benefit for the maintenance of the facilities and resources of the university.

Besides, our role as a hub implies that MADI will host the project office of the International Engineering Center, which will handle complex projects, integrating different project teams to develop production facilities and attract investment. University staff members and students will be able to take part in this work, expanding their professional horizons, and the university will earn extra income.

- Will students take part in the work of the center and how exactly will it work?

Not only established professionals, but also students will become full-fledged participants of the IEC. Engaging students in real-life research and engineering activities as part of project teams is a difficult but important task which will be implemented in stages. We have already started preparation of summer placement programs at IEC, and at a later stage the best students will be involved in the projects on a permanent basis as codevelopers.

All this will contribute to the creation of an innovative ecosystem of the university, which will help students to develop not only engineering, but also entrepreneurial skills. Our partners with the IEC are ready to help the university in this area.