Park Named after Lomonosov May Emerge in Austria

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Rectors of St. Petersburg Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko and Leoben Mining University Wilfried Eichelseder held a working meeting online, where they discussed prospects for cooperation. They stressed the need to further increase academic mobility, despite the sanitary and epidemiological restrictions. And they expressed mutual interest in perpetuating the memory of Mikhail Lomonosov on Austrian soil, whose 310th birthday will be celebrated in November.

The heads of universities positively assessed the level of implementation of joint projects, calling relations between the universities “strong and trustworthy”. For example, 16 students from St. Petersburg study in Leoben today. Five more young people, applying for a second European degree, represent Russian higher educational institutions, members of the Nedra Consortium. Their Austrian peers, in their turn, participate in summer schools and various forums organized by the Russian side. In particular, they participate in the international contest for young scientists “Topical Issues of Subsoil Use”. Cooperation in science and technology has also been established.

Nevertheless, as Vladimir Litvinenko noted, “there is undoubtedly room for progress. Such urgent topics as decarbonization, hydrogen energy, and the influence of thermodynamic processes taking place inside the Earth on climate change require the creation of scientific collaborations and closer integration of higher schools.”

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“The potential for cooperation between Russian and Austrian scientists is, without exaggeration, enormous. For example, next year researchers from the Leoben University of Mining will be able to take part in our next expedition to Antarctica, to the Vostok research station. I am sure that this will give an additional impetus to the research we are conducting there. One of the most important directions is to study geothermal heat flows under the ice sheet. Its goal is to understand the degree of influence of deep thermodynamic processes on the volume of carbon dioxide emissions from the depths of the planet into the atmosphere,” said Vladimir Litvinenko.

He also emphasized the importance of developing distance learning, which in conditions of the pandemic is becoming an integral part of the educational process. Rectors discussed the possibility of creating joint programs for students from universities belonging to the Nedra consortium. It is assumed that teachers from Leoben will introduce online classes in metallurgy, mining, and several other disciplines. After their completion Russian participants will have to pass an exam and, if successful, receive a certificate of completion of the corresponding course. This will strengthen horizontal ties and contribute to increased academic mobility, which, unfortunately, suffers because of coronavirus restrictions.

“The Russian side is also ready to provide 30 to 50 grants for Austrian students. Their internship program in Russia will include not so much training at the University of Mining, but rather industrial practice at our flagship energy and mining enterprises,” Litvinenko suggested.

The network of foreign partner universities of Russian scientific community is set to increase further.

At the end of the meeting, the parties assessed the prospects for installing a monument to Mikhail Lomonosov in Leoben. It is a two-meter-high bronze figure mounted on a pedestal.

"Mikhail Lomonosov’s practical activities were aimed at making education accessible to all segments of society," stressed Wilfried Eichelseder. “His merits in the preparation of a personnel reserve for various sectors of the economy, based on the best world experience of the time, are known throughout the world. This task is, of course, still relevant today, it is among the strategic principles of UNESCO and is our priority. Therefore, we consider it necessary to join the initiative of St. Petersburg Mining University and express our interest in establishing a monument to Lomonosov in Leoben with the possibility of creating a park of the same name.”

Rector of the Austrian University noted that “this project will strengthen the close historical ties between the mining companies and high schools of the two countries.” It can be implemented after approval by the City Planning Council of Leoben.

Wilfried Eichelseder also expressed confidence that cooperation of the universities within the framework of the International Center of Competences in Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO makes “an important contribution not only to the development of the mineral resources complexes of our countries but also to the progress of economic relations in general.”