What Could Be the Use of UNESCO Summer Schools for an Engineering Student?
Digitalisation has become one of the main drivers for global economic growth. Experts of McKinsey & Company forecast that by 2025 up to 22% of China's GDP growth will come from Internet-based technologies. In the USA, digital transformation is expected to raise the added value from $1.6 trillion to $2.2 trillion during 2020-2025, which constitutes half of the entire budget of the United States.
As Alexander Dyukov, Chairman of the Management Board at Gazprom Neft, explains "Information technologies have significantly changed the modern production industry, and digital transformation provides companies that have undergone it with evident competitive advantages. For us, and Gazprom Neft in particular, digitalisation is a tool we can use to improve performance and finance indicators. Through investing in high-tech production management solutions, our company creates new standards of industrial and environmental safety that will affect the development of the Russian oil industry as a whole".
There is, however, a problem - lack of highly-skilled engineers who know how to manage digital technologies and who can work at the intersection of different sciences. This situation is not only relevant to Russia; it can be observed in almost all countries dependent to some extent on the extraction of mineral resources, including Canada, Norway, or Australia.
According to Vladimir Litvinenko, Rector of Saint-Petersburg Mining University, "We will probably see more and more technological processes carried out remotely in the coming years. Operators who administer driverless dump trucks, excavators or robots will be working in their offices, probably hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from the machines. Therefore, we are already seeing a growing demand for employees who understand the specifics of manufacturing processes and their economics. They should also have a good command of English so that they could read industry-specific literature, freely communicate with colleagues from abroad and share their experiences. In addition, they also need skills in digital analytics. To conclude, it is an entire set of various competencies, which today's engineers need to have. Software engineering skills are, thus, would not be enough for a future employee to succeed".
The International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO was established within the Mining University. One of the Centre's tasks is to help undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as acting engineers, to learn about the newest technologies applied in the mineral resources sector. For this purpose, specialists of the Centre developed numerous short-term programmes that are aimed at improving participants' competencies. These programmes take the form of summer schools, and their participants coming from all over the world gain unique knowledge and experience by learning how to use digital technologies in modern organisations.
Vladimir Borzenkov, Vice-Rector for Cooperation with UNESCO and the Director-General of the Competence Centre, "The main site where these courses are held is the Mining University. Our guests have access to everything they might need in their studies - educational and research centres, field sites, all sort of infrastructure and facilities. I would particularly mention a unique drill site and oil & gas facilities in Sablino, the Centre for Digital Technology established by the Mining University in cooperation with Schneider Electric, Caterpillar's complex for training in managing mining and conveyor equipment, and other laboratory facilities. We also provide programme participants with regular workshops and field trips when they visit our partners' facilities - among these companies are Gazprom, Siemens, Shell, BP, Total, and others".
Short-term programmes at St. Petersburg Mining University are quite trendy. Last year's participants came from different countries and institutions - for example, the Lanzhou University of Technology in China, the Lebanese International University, the University of Bologna in Italy, and also such companies as China Petroleum Engineering and Mude Mabone (Uganda). Students paid particular attention to the fact that information nowadays becomes quickly obsolete, deriving from the acceleration of technological progress. Consecutively, employers raise their standards and require prospective employees to be highly-skilled. Answering the question why they chose to study at the Mining University, school participants said they were motivated by high-quality infrastructure and facilities in possession of the university, its pool of worthy partners, and highly-professional teaching staff.
As Vladimir Borzenkov notes, "In 2018, we received over 200 applications. A year later, we had 450 applicants. Our short-term course participants came from as much as 17 countries. Even now, despite the coronavirus pandemic, we have received more than 100 requests in the first two weeks since the registration was opened. Prospective applicants are, for instance, from Australia, Germany, Norway, Estonia, Iraq, Iran, and other countries".
Last year, the most popular programmes were "Geodetic Engineering: Theory and Practice", "Mineral Raw Material Processing", and "Offshore Field Development". All these programmes will take place this summer as well. And in addition to them, new courses have also been developed: "Environmental Challenges of Megacities", "Automation and Modeling in the Era of Digital Transformations", "Rare and Rare-Earth Metals Raw Materials and Production Technologies", and a few others. Altogether, the International Competence Centre will launch 65 short-term programmes.
Studies are conducted in English only. Students are accommodated in comfortable hotel-type dormitories of the Mining University already equipped with everything necessary, such as computer classrooms, canteens, cafeterias, gym, etc. The selection process has a form of a grant competition and is carried out by the Competence Centre.
New season of summer schools starts on 01.06.2020. Full list of programmes can be found here.