KYRPYCHOV V.L. The tasks of higher technical education

The first director of  Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Victor Lvovich Kyrpychov in various directories is briefly described as follows: scientist-mechanic, engineer and teacher, organizer of higher technical education, founder and first director of Kharkiv Technological Institute, founder and first director of Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. But he was also a theorist (philosopher) of higher technical education. V.L. Kyrpychov had a holistic vision of what an engineer and his training in a higher technical educational institution should be like. He spoke about this, in particular, in a speech at the grand opening of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute on August 31, 1898, wrote in the article "The value of imagination for engineers", which was published in 1903.

But the most detailed views on higher technical education V.L. Kyrpychov set out in a speech delivered on September 15, 1890 on the occasion of the first graduation of the Kharkiv Institute of Technology, and which is called "Tasks of higher technical education." In this speech all components of training of engineers are considered: study of basic (mathematics, physics, chemistry, mechanics) and applied sciences, drawing and drafting, computer science, construction art and architecture. V.L. Kyrpychov drew attention to the importance of the engineer's ability to work with his hands, which is developed in workshops and laboratories, and also argued for the need for oral teaching in lectures, supplemented by dialogues at seminars, as opposed to those who proposed to replace these forms of  studying with self-study combined with teacher consultations. The editorship believes that many of the views expressed by V.L. Kyrpychov have not lost relevance today, and that Kyiv Polytechnicians should get acquainted with them.

The speech together with the report on the state of the Kharkiv Technological Institute was published in 1890 in a separate brochure. There is no such brochure in the library of our university. The leading editor of our newspaper, Candidate of Technical Sciences V. Ignatovych found it in electronic repository of Kharkiv Polytechnic (http://repository.kpi.kharkov.ua/handle/KhPI-Press/3447). He also translated from Russian those fragments of it, which are given below.

 

... Many of you have been waiting for the opening of the Institute of Technology here for a long time, which took place finally in 1885, joyfully welcomed this event, and then followed its development with great interest. The Institute highly appreciates the general appreciation and sympathy of the local administration and the public, and therefore, now that the Institute is fully organized and the first graduation of its five-year students has just taken place, I consider it my duty to tell you ideas that guided the organization of the Institute, so the ideas of what higher technical education should be like in general, and what should be the training of future engineers in higher education.

With the current widespread development of technology and its importance for national wealth, the question of technical schools is of paramount importance. Lower technical schools are needed to train simple factory workers, secondary schools are needed to train masters, and finally higher education institutions are needed to train engineers. Our Institute aims to train people who occupy a higher position in the technical hierarchy: engineers, factory managers. It is necessary to do everything, so that his pupils were worthy of an honorary rank of the engineer.

Numerous studies on technical education, which have been conducted recently, have, among other things, found the philological origin of the word engineer. According to a well-known dictionary of the French language, compiled by Littre, it turns out that the word engineer comes from the verb "s'ingénier", which means mental work performed in order to succeed in the intended business. The engineer is the soul of the technical business, its leader, who shows all other participants in the enterprise what and how they should do to achieve the best success; he also evaluates the results of the work of masters and workers. His main activity is mental, and he must be prepared mainly for activities of this kind.

It is very difficult to manage a modern advanced technical enterprise, and the Institute of Technology has a difficult task to train such managers; it is especially difficult in our homeland due to the diversity of our existing industries ... The difficulties here are growing to a high degree also due to the fact that modern technology is changing and improving very quickly; sometimes in twenty, even in ten years production completely changes, demands absolutely other devices and other receptions; new productions appear, and the existing ones decline or disappear altogether ...

With such a rapid development of technology in order to be an engineer in the true sense of the word, it is absolutely not enough to study in practice the existing production. Individuals who are well aware of the existing factory routine can only continue it, but become completely powerless when it is necessary to introduce some improvement in production or move to another production that has appeared; and even more so such persons cannot independently improve the factory business ...

In contrast to the practice that deals directly with the close, narrow and special, science explores the more distant, broad and general. The laws of science remain unchanged and can be applied to a variety of phenomena, and their knowledge is an inexhaustible source that does not cease to yield high interest rates. Scientific knowledge will always help the engineer to overcome difficulties with each new question and quickly get used to the implementation of improvements or new production. Practitioners who have devoted their entire lives to a single business and know all its intricacies, become hopeless in the face of any new question and are powerless compared to a young engineer armed with scientific knowledge. Not only in technology, but also in all spheres of human activity, at each new business, at any new difficulties address to people of a science ... That is why any future engineer needs a thorough study of mathematics, physics, chemistry and mechanics, which are the foundation of all his other knowledge ...

However, it is not enough to study only theoretical subjects; the engineer must also get acquainted with the so-called applied sciences, various sections of mechanical and chemical technology, engaged in the direct study of factory and factory production. In this study, future engineers will see that not all issues encountered in the factory can be solved by existing theory; at the same time, the living matter requires an immediate solution to the issues that arise, and it is impossible to wait until the theory improves enough to give the necessary solution. In such cases it is necessary to resort to rough, approximate decisions, to be based on empirical data, to use instructions of pure practice, sometimes even directly to accept ancient recipes on faith, to copy ancient drawings ...

We should not forget that in technology, in addition to the scientific side, there is also an equally important aspect of art, and that for you, in addition to experiments performed in chemical and physical laboratories, are important those grand experiments for which the laboratory is the whole industry, and each individual technical enterprise is a separate experiment conducted on a large scale. It is necessary to study the results of such experiments, evaluate them and derive useful instructions from them…

Graphic arts, drawing and painting should be the cornerstone of an engineer's education. In fairness, drawings are called the language of an engineer who has to speak to craftsmen and workers in this language, and often only in this way can he convey his opinion to them. For lower technical staff, drawings are always a foreign language that they more or less understand, but do not know it themselves; at the same time, the drawing must be the native language of the engineer, which he speaks fluently and naturally…

Even when teaching theoretical subjects in schools, engineers often find it more convenient to use this language, instead of the usual arithmetic calculations and algebraic formulas. Graphic constructions and graphical calculations have gained citizenship in science, and their application has led to the creation of a new science - graphic statics, which by the nature of the issues it solves and the techniques it uses, should be called a real science for engineers. Many issues, which are solved with difficulty by analytical methods, with the help of the method of graphical statics get a quick, quite sophisticated and very clear solution ...

For technology, in addition to the graphical method of solving mathematical problems, it is also important how to solve such problems with the help of devices or mechanisms ... Machines called arithmometers, integrators, planimeters, etc., add, multiply, divide, integrate, find areas, centres of gravity, etc. ...

During their practical work, our technological engineers will have to build various factory buildings and other structures, sometimes quite grandiose, and in view of this, the Institute teaches structural mechanics, civil arts and architecture. In this regard, the question arises about the art education of engineers, which is best obtained in the study of architecture ... ... We give special importance to the art education of engineers, who must learn the correct architectural forms and proportions at school, and prevent the lack of taste in any of their drawings, no matter how unimportant it may depict.

Although the engineer is required mainly mental activity, guidance of others, but with higher technical education can not be left completely out of the study of handicrafts ... An engineer unfamiliar with the techniques of manual labour will never be a true leader of the workers, will not be able to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the finished product and will not be aware of the complexity of the implementation required by the worker ... For me, the ideal engineer should even have some passion for manual labour, and so was the greatest of the engineers whose work led to the modern domination of machines - James Watt.

The teaching of various sciences at our Institute is performed in a common way of lecturing, as in all existing higher education institutions, and if I mention this fact, it is only because of the organization of higher technical schools in our meetings of scientific societies and in the technical literature repeatedly raised the question of the need to replace this method of teaching; demanded the complete abolition of the lecture method of teaching science, and suggested that instead of  that professors should issue textbooks that students should study on their own, asking for clarification from time to time to the professor, and expect special benefits from such a system. Fortunately, it has not gained a large number of adherents, and it is hard to think that such an innovation, which seeks to change the centuries-old relationship between professors and students, could take root somewhere, and replace the living source of science with a dead book.

Higher education has always been based on an oral presentation given by a teacher; we see this from the time of the ancient Greek philosophers, who accompanied their presentation with questions and conversations with students, trying to evoke in them independent thinking. During the heyday of Greek science, books were used little, not only because they were rare, but because of the belief in their low suitability for study. Plato speaks well of this, usually putting his ideas in the mouth of Socrates (in the dialogue "Phaedrus"): "… Writing works is somewhat similar to painting; works of this art are very similar to living beings; but if you ask them questions, they will remain solemnly silent. The same is true of recorded speeches: reading them, we imagine that there is some meaning in them; but if you want to know it and start asking them, they will have the same first answer to all the questions. A written speech ... always needs the help of the author, because she cannot defend herself. “ "Indeed," adds Lewis, from whom I take this quote: "how many distortions of the author's thoughts could be avoided if he were present here to answer the proposed questions."

Oral teaching also has the advantage that it does not allow the listener's mind to remain as passive as when reading a book. On this basis, Greek sages have always preferred oral teaching in the form of questions and answers, and even if they wrote books to preserve their ideas for a long time, they often used in these works a dialogical form of presentation (Plato's famous conversations). In the new science, this form of work is rare, although it is very convenient when it comes to refuting old views and replacing them with new ones. It should be mentioned here that one of the most famous works of the Renaissance, which laid the foundations of modern mechanics (Galileo's conversations about two new sciences), is also written in dialogical form. Galileo taught orally, talking to students around him, and many of them later became famous in various fields of science (Torricelli, Viviani, Borelli) ...

With the advent of universities in Western Europe, higher education is provided through lectures supplemented by debates; students make long journeys, moving from one university to another to hear a professor. Modern higher education institutions, in addition to lectures, use a largely dialogical way of teaching in seminars, and thus we combine the two methods of teaching that have proven to be the best in the heyday of science.

I hope that those of our students who will graduate from the Institute and will work in different parts of our country will always remember with gratitude the scientific education they received within the walls of this institution; this education will give them an invaluable advantage ...

V.Ignatovych prepared