TSU will teach Master’s students in technological consulting

In two years Tomsk State University will graduate its first technology consulting specialists. The new module of the Faculty of Physics, which is still being recruited for, is called Physics and Technology of New Materials and will train not only materials scientists but also scientific managers who can establish the interaction of technologists, scientists, and engineers.

Progress in medicine is now occurring thanks to new materials such as biocompatible metal and ceramic implants that give a different quality of life to patients. Current progress in the space industry is also connected with new materials that help spacecraft be stronger and lighter. The list goes on and on: machine and instrument engineering, electronics, nuclear power, and in other fields.

- Everything that humanity is achieving today is provided by the possibilities of materials science,- says Ivan Ditenberg, head of the Department of Metal Physics at the Faculty of Physics, leading researcher at the Laboratory of Structural Transformation Physics, Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science (ISPMS) Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Doctor of Physics and Mathematical sciences.

Tomsk in this sense was lucky: for several decades we have developed the strongest materials science school, known throughout the world. University and academic science organically integrated during this time, so, at Prof. Ditenberg’s department, only two out of 17 people are full-time employees of the university, the rest are part-time workers, more than half of them ISPMS employees. That is, there is no lack of scientific ideas.

- But often scientists think specifically - for them a scientific idea prevails, they are not businesspeople. Engineers, in turn, are guided by what materials they have to create a structure or a machine from. Technologists think how to efficiently get some or another material. There is a problem - everyone speaks their own language, and when they come together, there is a kind of dissonance, -says Ditenberg.

To solve these “difficulties of translation”, the Faculty of Physics decided to begin training specialists who, while not being scientists, would nevertheless have a profound understanding of physics; who, while not technologists, can clearly set the task; and, possessing engineering thinking, would have the competence to evaluate ways to complete it.

Ivan Ditenberg, who was one of the organizers of the module Physics and Technology of New Materials, emphasizes: “The key point of everything new is the idea. It is critical to find people who can create, inspire, and realize this idea”.

Ditenberg defines the specialists whom the Faculty of Physics will graduate in two years as scientific managers, specialists in technological consulting who understand all the chains of relationships.

The program could be interesting not only to physicists, but also to everyone who has the necessary level of basic knowledge in physics, for example, engineers, chemists, or biologists.

- If, for example, physicians need to know something about materials science for a selected job profile, they can come and get this knowledge in two years. This will help them professionally sort out what material and for what they want to use it, in what conditions this material will work, and how it can be produced. We can teach this by introducing certain methods and approaches, - says Ivan Ditenberg.

Perhaps the key word in the description of the new program is interdisciplinary: not only employees of several departments (physics of metals, physics of semiconductors, and optics and spectroscopy) of the TSU Faculty of Physics are connected with the module, but also leading experts from the academic institutes of the SB RAS (ISPMS, Institute of High Current Electronics, and Institute of Atmospheric Optics), and TSU scientific divisions (Siberian Institute of Physics and Technology and Medical Innovation Center).

- We believe that the students’ motivation should be natural so that they crave the knowledge that will be given to them here. Therefore, the architecture of the module is based on taking the best from the materials industry. For example, a different course in materials science will be taught by different people: one professor has achievements in steels, another in titanium alloys, a third in powder materials, a fourth in composite, and so on, - says Prof. Ditenberg.

According to him, visiting innovative enterprises engaged in new materials will be part of the training. Negotiations are also ongoing on participation in the process of industrial holdings. The module architecture will be open so that at any stage it is possible to attach the missing link and dynamically rearrange the program, for example, if the market has changed and there is a need for other specialists.