Meet: Aerospace Technology Institute. Interview with IAT Director Ivan Korobko

This year, the students of the Aerospace Technology Institute, established in April, also took part in the traditional Freshman Day. “The Kyiv Polytechnician” asked his director, Ivan Vasyliovych Korobko, about the new unit, the tasks facing this educational and scientific unit, as well as about its students and partners.

- What specialists will the institute prepare, where they will be able to work after graduation?

- The Institute will train specialists for the aerospace industry. It was initiated by the rector of our university Zgurovsky Michael. What caused his discovery? The fact is that world progress is rapidly developing and there is an urgent need for space exploration, the use of its abilities for, let’s say, satellite communications and other needs.For these purposes, there is a need to create satellites and bring them into outer space.Several countries around the world that practice the so-called New Space concept are doing this. Ukraine should join them as well.

- You have said about the New Space and satellites. So who will be trained in IAT - satellite developers or carrier developers,namely rocket science experts?

- Both.- Our main current partner, Firefly (USA), will launch its first missile launches this year.The company professes the New Space strategy - accessible space through the use of technical innovation. They have already made fire tests of their engine. Two rockets have already been developed - “Alpha” and “Beta”. Their models, by the way, we showed at the "Freshman Day". So the company is interested in rocket builders as well.

- What specialties will be used to prepare students?

-Currently, the Institute trains specialists in two specialties. The first is the specialty 134 "Aviation and space rocket technology". Within this specialty, training is provided in several educational programs: "Airplanes and helicopters" (this program had existed at the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute before - at FAKS, later at MMI, and now- at IAT); and new educational programs: "Missile and Space Complexes" and "Aerospace and Missile Systems Engineering".The second specialty is specialty 173 "Avionics" with the educational program "Systems of control of aircrafts and complexes". In these specialties,as i have told, after the reorganization of FAX preparation has not stopped. And the students who studied for them at MMI were transferred to IAT. Territorially the departments also did not move anywhere. However, now a new department is being created within the IAT - space engineering - and it will train specialists in rocket and space complexes.Moreover, at the suggestion of the American company Firefly, which has an office in our country, and the GO "Noosphere Association" (a non-profit organization whose job is to modernize scientific and educational activities),a Space Science and Technology Training Center (Dual Education Center) has been set up within our Institute to provide student learning at both our university and in Dnipro, where the company has its own industrial facilities.So, since such a system will be taught not only in Kyiv but also in Dnipro, our university has made an agreement on academic mobility with the Oles Honchar Dnipro National University. This gives us legal reasons to send our students to Dnipro. Accordingly, the training of master students of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute,who study on the dual type, will be conducted on the basis of the Faculty of Physics and Technology of this University.IAT and the Faculty of Physics and Technology of the Oles Honchar Dnipro National University are now coordinating their curricula for the mutual preparation of masters.

- How many students will study according this form?

-This year, we took six of the first such students for the Rocket and Space Complex educational program. We plan to send them to Dnipro at least a month in November, where they will study under the dual education program and will determine the topics of the master's theses. Mentors are selected for them, questions concerning their employment and accommodations are solved, organizational issues regarding their classroom lessons at the Oles Honchar Dnipro National University,classes at an engineering school at the public organization "Noosphere Association" are solved, co-directors of their dissertations from “Firefly” are chosen.In addition, the “Noosphere Association” has worked out the legal foundations for financing our students' studying. They are ready to finance the master's training of part of our students and after graduation to hire them to work. The form of a tripartite agreement has already been worked out - between the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, "Noosphere" Association (by the way, it includes "Firefly") and an individual,a master's student, and the form of agreement between the Association and an individual - student, which defines obligations , which the student undertakes: to work the year after graduation and to refund during this period the funds spent on its preparation and so on.The signing of such agreements allows the student to make decisions about this education form consciously. Moreover, the representatives of the Association emphasize that the level of their salaries will allow the young specialist to easily compensate for the money spent on his training.For our university, this experience will be new, because training on the model of dual education, which is already implemented at some faculties and institutes, is carried out at the Kiev grounds up to now.

- So, the institute has taken six students for the magistracy under the new educational program (specialization). And how many people came to the first course?

- This year, we have taken 45 people to the specialty 134 - this is the maximum amount of enrollment for studying on a budget basis . Plus one on a contract basis. We have taken them, but we had to cut off 27 other entrants for whom joining was our the first priority.Also, 36 people did not enter on a budget basis for us in the second priority, 34 - with the third.That is, if we had, say, eighty places this year, we could fill them completely. The same situation was with our second Avionics specialty.All 29 budget points were also taken there. For comparison, our colleagues from other institutions of higher education in Ukraine could not fully take students for these specialties. Therefore, it is about our University image.In addition, this was facilitated by the fact that we have a very active career guidance among young people. However, we believe that  the entry system needs some changes.Why? In response, this is just an example of our Institute's brief experience: on the day of the publication of the lists of recommended,5 people from the 45 students that are studying on a budget basis, announced that they would go to study abroad. And those we have eliminated, according to this year's admission rules, we couldn't take back on the budget. So we had to put to the budget basis those who were not recommended anywhere and whom we initially took on the contract basis studying.

 -Are IAT lecturers people from the academic community or those who have come or are currently working in the area?

- These are specialists who have experience in both universities and aviation or missile industries.By way of proof, i will give an example: specialty 134, which we have already mentioned. Preparation for it is carried out at the Department of Aviation and Rocket Engineering (Head of the Department Professor Vitaliy Victorovych Syhov).In this department, most of the professors in this specialty have received higher education at Kharkiv Aviation Institute, Moscow Aviation Institute and National Aviation University and have defended their theses in the relevant direction. The rest are graduates of our university in this specialty. Moreover, seven of them speak English.

-And the next question is about English language training. Some of your partners are well-known international companies with foreign management. One of the important qualification requirements for employees of such companies is proficiency in English. That is,graduating, your students should know the language at the level required by their employers. Is this taken into account in curriculum development?

- We are introducing a pilot project that will slightly change the English language teaching system.- We know that English is, in fact, the weak spot of many applicants for work in Ukrainian representations of well-known companies and, in general, many Ukrainian specialists.Therefore, in the first year we spend the first two months teaching English intensively.The first-semester freshman program will be completed during the first two months of study. After the class is completed, consultations in English remain. The English-language discipline "History of aviation" is added to this.This course is read by our professor Volodymyr Volodymyrovych Kabaniachiy.This discipline does not require knowledge of a large amount of specialized terms, but allows you to develop language skills and competencies.Completing the study of this discipline by writing a precis - of course, in English, and preparing an appropriate presentation. Such approaches do not have great risks for students who at the beginning of their studies had some gaps in knowledge of a foreign language, because to control the knowledge gained in studying this course, students do not take the exam, but credit, and write the  essay, which I have already said. Moreover, we also add IT disciplines.They are already so rich in English terms, so we at the institute suggest a smooth transition to teaching such courses in English. This does not mean that it will happen immediately, but we will step by step transfer them into this language.And in each semester we plan to lead a few subjects in English.First of all, there are certain things that are not saturated with special terminology, such as algorithm construction, simulation systems, optimization methods, etc. The same disciplines that are for us, say, basic, for example, material resistance, theoretical mechanics, purely professional subjects, in order not to lose the level of preparation, teaching and perception of students, will be read in Ukrainian. I want to take this one step at a time, I would like current freshmen to have a level of English not lower than B2 after completing a bachelor's degree.As for the basic English course, it is, of course, taught by the teachers of the English language department. They have aeronautical and rocket science developments, and in the third or fourth year they will be taught professional English.But if some of our subjects are taught in English, we will need such a course, but in a more in-depth part.That is, the advisory assistance of English teachers with aerospace orientation remains all-important and urgently needed. The main thing when switching to English is to teach part of the courses is that we need to maintain the level of preparation of our students in their professional direction while maintaining the teaching of professional, technically complex subjects in the state language - Ukrainian.

- What about training foreigners?

-The training of foreign students in our specialties is still available. However, earlier training was in Russian and Ukrainian. And this year, we started enrolling foreign nationals to study in English. These students include citizens of Turkey, Egypt, Korea, Algeria, Ecuador, Pakistan and other countries. Today, we have already accepted for the first year a bachelor's level of training of 27 foreign nationals. 15 of them are English speakers. Together 58 foreigners study at all courses. Young teacher, deputy director of the institute Oleksiy Oleksandrovych Pikenin coordinates the preparation of foreign students.

By the way, another of our innovations is that after the beginning of the study we offer to a part of our Ukrainian-language students of the first (bachelor) level to additionally attend classes with English-speaking students. Moreover, even go to a group of foreign students in order to study a number of disciplines.

- Another question that concerns students' desire to acquire additional knowledge. It is known that the most famous graduates of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, who after graduation made a huge contribution to the development of aviation and astronautics, devoted their leisure to their chosen occupation.And it was at the beginning of the twentieth century that they created in the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute aviation-clubs, from which a large number of designers and scientists came out. Are there similar clubs at the Institute now?

-- We pay a lot of attention to youth technical creativity. We have an interesting and creative circle of aviation and rocketry. On a Freshman Day, everyone was able to see the missile model flights made by its members. We also have a club of robotics. Another of our clubs - the creation of unmanned aerial vehicles - these clubs are working to create a,so called,solar-plane.By the way, this plane has about 30 hours of flight time. In addition, today our students are testing a large drone with a wingspan of 7.2 meters. This drone is currently being tested and making its first flights (flights on a straight line within the flight field -"KP") at the aerodrome. Unfortunately, everything is done at our own expense, so we are currently looking for those who will be able to help students with this. I would also like to point out that not only those who study at IAT, there are representatives of other faculties and institutes among these students' clubs.Some of them are going to the magistracy there as well.The whole technological base is contained in our building №28.We are now working with the “Noosphere Association” to launch a “student rocket” project. Teamwork is also career counselling: most of club members that are studying at school we believe, will want to get a higher education here.We also cooperate with the JAS in this direction.By the way, our freshman -  ex JAS pupil received a special award from the “Noosphere Association” in Dnipro this year for his work. We are developing other projects. However, aviators - people are a little superstitious, and before the plane flies, not always willing to talk about it. We are also trying not to talk about our plans, so I will just say that work on the development of student activity in this direction is not abandoned and, hopefully, its results you will see soon.A great contribution to this is made by the Deputy Director of the Institute, Hanna Volodymyrivna Saryboga who is very enthusiastic about working with young people.

- How will scientific research and innovation projects be developed at the Institute?

- I have already mentioned that the Space Science and Technology Center under the patronage of “Firefly” and the “Noosphere Association” has been set up at IAT, which will ensure the realisation of our plans for the development of dual education.It will also become the basis for research at the Institute. In the first stage, we plan to open five laboratories in it: optimal design / construction (3D modeling, CFD technologies - finite element analysis ANSYS, design), robotics and electronics (instrumentation, microcontrollers, programming, design and manufacturing of robotics systems), space research and technology (rocket engines, remote sensing of the Earth, monitoring of space objects, satellites (micro-, mini-, pico-), rocketry, missile and spacecraft design and assembly, production technologies (3D printers, production technology, CNC machine tools programming) and non-destructive testing (the basics of ultrasound control, CD Altium Designer design, microcontroller programming, eddy current testing).We have allocated premises under these laboratories. Our partners develop plans for their construction and maintenance. Now we are coordinating the budget with our partners and starting moving forward.

If we can make all our plans come true, our students, most of whom are genuinely keen on aviation and rocket science, will be able to start implementing themselves in their chosen business within the university.

I will add that we are not restricted with cooperation with “Firefly”. Design bureau "Luch",state enterprise “Antonov”,the state-owned enterprise of the special device engineering "Arsenal", state holding company "Artem" and others are among our partners.

-And the last question.The order for the creation of the IAT was issued in April, on the eve of the Cosmonautics Day. This summer, the Institute welcomed its first students. This is impressing. Did you and your staff had a free time in the summer?

 -These months before the start of the new academic year were full of work that we like and that everybody needs.So these were our investments in the future….Our freshmen have come up with the motto"Dreams come true if you study at IAT".This is both guidance and direction for our team.

Dmytro Stefanovych interviewed