From the report of the rector of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine M.Z. Zgurovsky at the session of the university faculty on August 31, 2023
One hundred and twenty-five years is a very short period of time in historical terms, but for Kyiv Polytechnic it is already the age of formation and acquisition of its own identity in the world community of universities and in Ukrainian society. During this time, KPI has gone through three socio-political systems of the state and four stages of its evolution.
The first stage, which took place in the late XIX - early XX century, marked the birth and formation of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute as one of the leading higher technical educational institutions of the former Russian Empire.
Established in response to the needs of the metallurgical, machine-building, sugar processing, railroad transport, and agricultural industries of the late nineteenth century, KPI immediately came under the tutelage of prominent scientists and statesmen. The three newly created polytechnics (Kyiv, Warsaw, and St. Petersburg) were under the care of the Minister of Finance of the time, Sergei Yulievich Witte. He formed a group of prominent scientists-founders of KPI consisting of Viktor Lvovich Kyrpychov, Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev, Nikolai Egorovich Zhukovsky, Yevgeny Oskarovich Paton and others. When laying the foundation of KPI, they successfully combined the best achievements of famous European polytechnic schools: École Polytechnique de Paris, Aachen, Vienna, and Magdeburg Technical Universities.
Opening KPI on August 31, 1898, its first rector Viktor Lvovich Kyrpychov said: "The Kyiv Polytechnic Institute is intended to train engineers, i.e. people of genius, capable of inventing and creating new things."
Thanks to this innovative model of engineering education, there was a combination of deep natural science training in physics, mathematics, and chemistry with general engineering disciplines taught exclusively with the use of laboratory and research equipment and the acquisition of professional skills in KPI foundries and mechanical workshops and at industrial enterprises.
The first objective assessment of the quality of KPI engineers' training in 1903 was given by Dmitriy Mendeleev as the chairman of the State Examination Commission. At that time he said: "Having 35 years of experience in higher education, I have the courage to say that such a total set of special works of students as I saw in the first graduating class of the Kyiv Polytechnic cannot be found in the universities and technological institutes I know."
In the first years of KPI's activity, Professors Yermakov and Bukreiev founded the School of Mathematics and Statistics; Professors Kyrpychov, Zvorykin, and Tymoshenko became the founders of the School of Applied Mechanics; Professors De-Metz, Goldman, and Lynnyk founded the School of Solid State Physics; and Professors Dementiev, Konovalov, and Yavorsky became the founders of the School of Chemical Technology and Engineering.
At the personal invitation of Rector Kyrpychov, Mykola Pymonenko, a prominent Ukrainian artist, full member of the Society of Traveling Art Exhibitions, the Munich Artists' Society, and the Paris International Union of Arts and Letters, and academician of painting, gave compulsory drawing classes for students. The Technical Library was formed and headed by Mykola Bilyashivskyi, a well-known archaeologist and founder of museum studies in Ukraine. The university newspaper Kyiv Polytechnic, founded in the 1920s, was edited by a student of the Faculty of Railway Construction Engineers, a future prominent Ukrainian writer Ivan Le.
These and other personalities formed a special atmosphere of high culture, intelligence and creativity, which in a short time ensured KPI's leadership in industry, agriculture and public life.
KPI professors Delaunay, Bobrov, brothers Ivan and Andriy Kasyanenko formed the Aeronautical Section at the Mechanical Department in 1905. By the beginning of the First World War, its members had built more than 40 different types of aircraft, including two of the world's first helicopters by student Igor Sikorsky. In fact, this aviation center served as a powerful aviation research and training center in Eastern Europe. Most of the world-class aircraft designers of that time came out of it, and monuments on the university's territory are dedicated to them.
The famous graduates of the aviation and other engineering schools of KPI were aeronautics pioneers Igor Sikorsky, Oleksandr Mikulin, Oleksandr Kudashev, Dmytro Hryhorovych, Kostiantyn Kalinin, Kasyanenko brothers, prominent materials scientist and metallurgist Ivan Bardin, the builder of the first hydroelectric power plants Oleksandr Winter and many other representatives of the first galaxy of "golden names" of Kyiv Polytechnic.
It was about them that Viktor Lvovich Kyrpychov said in 1913: "A special happiness for the institute, a special luck that determined its rapid development, was the opportunity to attract outstanding scientists, professors of various specialties to the teaching staff, who became a happy wave of people who gave the institution all their strength and invested in it the seeds of science that gave lush shoots and a rich harvest."
These words of the first rector became prophetic for the future of Kyiv Polytechnic. At all times, talented and dedicated people have glorified their alma mater and their country with their achievements.
The second stage of KPI's development, under a different socio-political system of the state, was in the Soviet era. It was associated with an unprecedented increase in the scale of the institute, the separation of thirteen other educational institutions, nine institutes of the National Academy of Sciences, and two large industrial enterprises from its environment.
A separate contribution of Kyiv Polytechnics to national and world science was the creation of the Ukrainian, and now the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In 1918, by decree of Hetman Skoropadsky, the Academy of Sciences was established in the then independent Ukraine on the basis of the leading scientific schools of St. Volodymyr's University of Kyiv and KPI. Among the organizers of the academy were Stepan Prokopovych Tymoshenko, head of the KPI's Department of Materials Resistance, and Yevhen Oskarovych Paton, dean of the engineering department, who later became perhaps the most authoritative mechanical scientists of the last century.
A large galaxy of KPI professors and graduates later glorified the Ukrainian academy. Among them are Mykhailo Kravchuk, a world-renowned mathematician, Volodymyr Plotnikov, an outstanding electrochemist, Heorhiy Pysarenko, a researcher in the theory of vibrations and strength of materials, Mykola Kilchevsky, an outstanding scientist in the field of theoretical mechanics, Ivan Chyzhenko, a researcher in the field of theoretical foundations of electrical engineering, and Viktor Trefilov, an outstanding materials scientist. The unsurpassed labor feat of Borys Paton, a graduate of KPI in 1941, was his unchanging leadership of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine for 57 years!
Today, the current members of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine - Yuriy Ivanovych Yakymenko, Mykhailo Yukhymovych Ilchenko, Petro Ivanovych Loboda, Serhiy Ivanovych Sydorenko, Mykola Ivanovych Bobyr, Nataliia Dmytrivna Pankratova, Oleksiy Mykolaiovych Novikov, Mykhailo Mykolaiovych Savchuk, Mykola Yuriiovych Kuznetsov - are multiplying the glorious academic traditions of their outstanding predecessors.
The industrialization of the Soviet state led to the creation of new scientific and pedagogical schools at KPI. Professors Delaunay, Lysin, and Pligunov founded the School of Technologies and Equipment of Industrial Engineering; Professors Krukovsky, Artemiev, and Gorodetsky became the founders of the School of Electric Power Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Electromechanics. The scientific school "Materials Science, Metallurgy, Welding" was founded by professors Eugene Paton, Vasiliev, Dobrokhotov, Vashchenko, Gridnev; the scientific school of radio engineering was founded by professors Ogievsky, Tetelbaum; the founders and leaders of the scientific school of thermal energy were professors Radzig, Stupin, Kondak, Shvets, Tolubinsky, Kichigin.
During that stage, KPI graduates and its research departments gave the country and the world a number of outstanding scientific achievements of the last century.
In 1928, Eugene Oskarovych Paton was the first in the world to use electric welding technology for bridge construction, which later made it one of the main technologies of the twentieth century. Boris Paton continued his father's work. Based on his breakthrough in materials science, he developed unique technologies for electric welding in space, underwater, and welding living tissue. It is symbolic that 2023 was the 95th anniversary year for electric welding technology.
Konstantin Kalinin, a 1925 graduate of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, created a whole generation of pre-war aircraft, and his K-7 aircraft, made according to the aerodynamic scheme of the "flying wing", was the largest in the world in the early 30s of the last century. Later, Kalinin's "flying wing" scheme formed the basis of supersonic aviation.
KPI students of the thirties, Sergiy Korolyov and Volodymyr Chelomey, became the authors of perhaps the greatest achievement of the last century - they were the first in the world to conquer space.
A 1928 graduate of KPI, Bentsion Moiseevich Vul, at the USSR Academy of Sciences, provided a solution to the problem of solid-state electronics, which dramatically changed the further development of technology and, in particular, became the foundation of future computers.
Lev Veniaminovich Lyuliev, twice Hero of Socialist Labor, a 1931 KPI graduate, developed advanced artillery air defense systems and guided missiles that are still in service with the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
A new generation of turbojet engines, created by Arkhip Mykhailovych Lyulka, a KPI graduate of the same year, was far ahead of its time and is still the basis of modern aviation.
During the Second World War, KPI sacrificed its best scientific and technical achievements, its best human resources, and the lives of many students and teachers on the altar of Victory, whose memory is preserved by the pedestal of eternal glory in the university park.
The revival of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in the postwar years was associated with the selfless hard work of the entire staff of the institute, at the forefront of which were the veterans Alla Bondar, Vasyl Vinoslavsky, Vasyl Hnatovsky, Anton Ornatsky, Ivan Chyzhenko and many others.
The post-war KPI owes its rapid recovery, return to the atmosphere of high academic culture and pedagogical excellence to its rector, Oleksandr Sergiyovych Pligunov. At that time, at a new stage of scientific and technological progress, KPI established scientific schools in the field of electronics and acoustics (professors Nekrasov, Rosenberg, Karnovsky, Balo, Wexler, Lavrynenko) and in the field of automation and instrumentation (professors Maresh, Ostafiev, Ornatsky, Pavlovsky, Ladiev, Trubenko, Tsydelko, Kocho, and others).
The 70s and 80s of the twentieth century, when Hryhoriy Ivanovych Denysenko was the rector of the institute, were a turbulent stage in the complex development of KPI. During this time, the KPI not only tripled its material and technical base, but also introduced new methodological, organizational, cultural, artistic and sports forms of harmonious education of engineers.
At that time, KPI was one of the most authoritative higher education institutions in the Soviet Union, which trained personnel according to its own curricula with an extended period of study. Important scientific developments were carried out, which in the postwar period were awarded two Lenin Prizes and 86 State Prizes of the USSR and the Ukrainian SSR.
Responding to new challenges, professors Ivakhnenko, Greben, Samofalov, and Kostiuk created a scientific school of cybernetics, computer science, and informatics at KPI.
KPI graduates of those times were sent to work in all corners of the former huge country - from the Baltic States to the Far East, from the North to the Central Asian republics. Hundreds of foreign citizens returned to their countries every year with KPI diplomas. Among them were two future ministers of China: Liu Jiang Feng of civil aviation and Hu Guangyuan of mechanical engineering, Hungarian Ambassador to Ukraine Janos Kiszfalvi, Polish Minister of Education Wojciech Swietoslawski, wind energy developer and now owner of the entire wind energy industry in the United States Michael Polskykh and many other famous graduates of the institute who carried the KPI flag in different parts of the world.
In those days, a brilliant galaxy of artists, athletes, and statesmen graduated from the university's classrooms. Among them are composer Mykola Dremliuga, People's Artist of the USSR and long-time artistic director of the National Opera Anatolii Mokrenko, Olympic champions Larysa Latynina and Yurii Titov, outstanding football player and coach Valerii Lobanovskyi, head of the government of Ukraine in the USSR and in the times of independent Ukraine Vitalii Masol, and many other outstanding personalities.
The third stage of KPI's development began with the final phase of the Soviet Union's existence, known as "perestroika," which was accompanied by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine's independence, and the beginning of the formation of the Ukrainian state. This stage conditionally covered approximately 20 years.
During this period, the university played an important role in gaining and establishing Ukraine's independence. The first (constituent) congress of the People's Movement of Ukraine took place in KPI on September 8-10, 1989. Students and staff of the university were active participants in the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014.
The democratization of university life at this stage was laid down by the first elected rector in the USSR and the first Minister of Education of independent Ukraine, Petro Mykhailovych Talanchuk, who made a significant contribution to the country's independence.
This period of time was characterized by the transition from a centralized to a market economy, a significant reformatting of its structure within new geographical and political boundaries, and a fundamental change in the principles of interaction with the outside world.
In response to these challenges, Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute developed a new concept for its further development. It consisted in its transformation from the model of a polytechnic institute, rigidly embedded in the centralized economy of the former USSR, to the model of a European-style technical university with universal, broadly oriented training in accordance with the new needs of society.
In the third stage, the university established one of the best self-governance systems in the country. Through the mechanism of collective bargaining, a democratic electoral system of department heads and student leaders, KPI launched its own special approach to developing and making important decisions and monitoring their implementation.
The universalization of education and research required combining and harmonizing the fundamental science, engineering, technical, economic, and humanitarian components of training the next generation of specialists. Accordingly, 12 new faculties and educational and research institutes, more than 50 departments, and 112 new specialties and specializations were created.
The new methodology of interdisciplinary research of complex phenomena of nature and society necessitated the creation of a scientific school of system analysis at KPI together with the Institute of Cybernetics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Its founders were academicians Mikhalevych, Sergienko, Samoilenko, Daletskyi, Ivakhnenko, Pshenychnyi, Melnyk, professors Ivanenko, Romanenko and others.
In those years, the number of KPI students reached forty-two thousand, and together with teachers, researchers, and staff, the family of Kyiv Polytechnics made up 50 thousand people.
Responding to the new challenges faced by society, KPI created national-scale institutions in its structure. They were:
- The first State Polytechnic Museum in Ukraine, which is also celebrating its 25th anniversary;
- Kyiv Polytechnic Science Park and the Sikorsky Challenge Innovation Ecosystem, which is spread across 14 regions of Ukraine;
- Polytechnic Publishing and Printing Complex;
- URAN educational and scientific information network, which provides leading universities and research centers of Ukraine with unique information content;
- KPI-Telecom, a telecommunication service provider integrated into the global information space;
- 35 international centers and international organizations that ensure the integration of KPI into the world and European scientific and educational space;
- an extensive network of centers of culture, art, sports, and social facilities for the harmonious education and development of students' talents.
Thus, having passed the third stage of its evolution, KPI has become a much more significant institution than a higher education institution in its traditional sense. It entered the top 4% of the most authoritative universities in the world according to a number of international rankings, became a major educational, scientific, innovative, methodological center of the state, an island of breakthrough in a number of high-tech areas, a center for educating new generation professionals, true patriots of Ukraine.
Based on this mission, starting from 2010-2012, KPI moved to the fourth stage of its evolution by adopting a new university development strategy. In accordance with this strategy, KPI is forming a model for Ukraine's transformation from a low-tech and raw material economy to a high-tech and competitive one.
At the beginning of this stage, KPI became a platform for the development of new legislation in the field of higher education, which is still in force today. These legal acts for the first time laid down the principles of systemic interaction between higher education, science, business and government, the principles of university autonomy, the European system of training quality assessment and other modern approaches to human capital formation.
At this stage, the university began to adapt its educational programs to the needs of the labor market and high-tech business, creating dual training programs based on an innovative model (there are 68 of them today).
One of the important achievements was the KPI space program. By developing and launching research satellites into space, the university has become the undisputed leader in this area in Ukraine.
KPI was the first to introduce and institutionalize academic integrity at the national level.
At this stage, the foundations were laid for the further development of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute as a research university based on the Sikorsky Challenge Innovation Ecosystem, which has gained not only national but also international significance.
Finally, the university staff breathed life into the walls of the one hundred and twenty-five-year-old KPI. The museum, monuments to prominent polytechnicians, art galleries, the Academic Council meeting room, university squares and parks, Foucault's pendulum, chimes on the main building, and other signs of respect for their history envelop Kyiv Polytechnic students today with a special academic spirit, a sense of belonging to the glorious history and great deeds of their predecessors.
At the same time, this stage brought unprecedented challenges and trials. For the first time in 70 years after the surrender of Nazi Germany, a war broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, which escalated into a full-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Hundreds of students and staff of the university and thousands of KPI alumni of the past years stood up to defend their homeland. 67 of them gave their lives for the freedom and independence of Ukraine in the Russian-Ukrainian war of 2014-2023. Five Kyiv Polytechnicians were posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.
The new realities made it necessary to add another important task to the KPI development strategy: increasing the state's defense capability and laying the foundations of national resistance. In a matter of months, the university intensified research and training in military-industrial areas, became the developer of more than 40 new dual-use and military technologies, six of which have already been put into service. He also founded the Kyiv Polytechnic Foundation for Assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which regularly helps Ukrainian soldiers with weapons, medicines, and vehicles.
Within a short time, KPI has significantly increased the scale of training for defense agencies and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Thus, 169 masters for the defense industry were trained under the program "Management in the field of defense industry". Training in other special programs has also been expanded.
During the war, KPI not only does everything possible to win, but also develops a platform for post-war innovative transformation of the country, based on the circumstances that Ukraine will probably be in an unfriendly neighborhood for a long time.
The main components of this platform are as follows:
1. At the suggestion of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute plans to introduce the basics of national resistance for first- and second-year students. It is planned to introduce into the curriculum a 5-credit course on premedical, firearms and psychological training, UAV management, crisis management, emergency response, and rules of behavior during evacuation.
2. KPI continues to improve the model of a research university that organically combines advanced education, competitive science and innovation, which are focused on improving the country's defense capabilities. Today, the Sikorsky Challenge Innovation Ecosystem is based on 67 university schools, more than 100 high-tech companies, investment and venture funds, a group of high-tech enterprises in Ukraine, and 12 branches of the Sikorsky Challenge startup school in 25 universities in Ukraine.
3. The University ensures the further development of a lifelong learning program based on retraining and advanced training for those already working to help them adapt to changes in the labor market and develop their careers. This primarily concerns the retraining of personnel for the defense and security sector of Ukraine.
4. KPI consistently implements the concept of a "digital university". The use of artificial intelligence technologies, virtual and augmented reality, cloud services is already changing the content of the educational and scientific process, increasing the efficiency of management at all levels.
5. The concept of sustainable development, which is based on taking into account the needs of modern society without depriving future generations of the opportunity to meet their needs, has become an imperative requirement for the formation of thinking of KPI students. In practical terms, KPI constantly improves energy efficiency through the introduction of new energy saving technologies, becomes more environmentally friendly - through the constant expansion of the green zone of its territory, safer for the members of the university community, socially oriented and economically sustainable.
6. The university continues to build a modern campus by developing the material and technical base, landscaping, and public spaces. In recent years, KPI has created convenient locations for the creative work of students, staff and guests of the university. Among them are the open space of the Scientific and Technical Library, the IT Hub of the Faculty of Informatics and Computer Science, Club 13, Aviation Pioneers Square, Park of the Unconquered, and others.
And the last thing. Next year the election of the KPI rector will take place. It is important that the team treats this as a matter of principle and responsibility, making it impossible for external interference in the election process. I think that at the next conference of the staff, it would be advisable, in addition to considering current issues, to approve the committee for the election of the rector. This committee should organize the nomination and discussion of candidates by primary units in a transparent, democratic way to identify leaders who can be recommended for the final vote according to the official procedure. A younger generation of capable managers is already growing up at the university-wide level and at the level of large units. It is important for the team to choose the right leader, to hold the election in a transparent and democratic manner, and to help the new leader in his or her work.
Dear friends! KPI has lived for 125 years, it is a contemporary of three centuries - XIX, XX and XXI, and in each of them it was an advanced higher technical educational institution. Today, Kyiv Polytechnics is responsible for maintaining the high authority of its predecessors and the duty to increase this authority at the new stage of the university's development.
The prophetic words of the first rector of KPI, Viktor Lvovich Kyrpychov, expressed 125 years ago, wishing his alma mater to "live, grow, become stronger, prosper for hundreds and thousands of years..." are coming true.