Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology | Wikipedia audio article

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology | Wikipedia audio article

August 15, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
(MIPT, Russian: Московский Физико-Технический институт), known informally as PhysTech
(Физтех), is a Russian university, originally established in Soviet Union. It prepares specialists in theoretical and
applied physics, applied mathematics and related disciplines. MIPT is known for specifics of the MIPT educational
process (see “Phystech System” below). University rankings such as The Times Higher
Education Supplement are based primarily on publications and citations. With its emphasis on embedding research in
the educational process, MIPT “outsources” education and research beyond the first two
or three years of study to institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences. MIPT’s own faculty is relatively small and
many of its distinguished lecturers are visiting professors from those institutions. Student research is typically performed outside
of MIPT and research papers do not identify the authors as MIPT students. This effectively hides MIPT from the academic
radar, an effect not unwelcome during the Cold War era when leading scientists and engineers
of the Soviet arms and space programs studied there. The word “phystech,” without the capital P,
is also used in Russian to refer to Phystech students and graduates. The main MIPT campus is located in Dolgoprudny,
a northern suburb of Moscow. However the Aeromechanics Department is based
in Zhukovsky, a suburb south-east of Moscow.==History==In late 1945 and early 1946, a group of prominent
Soviet scientists, including in particular the future Nobel Prize winner Pyotr Kapitsa,
lobbied the government for the creation of a higher educational institution radically
different from the type established in the Soviet system of higher education. Applicants, carefully selected by challenging
examinations and personal interviews, would be taught by and work together with, prominent
scientists. Each student would follow a personalized curriculum
created to match his or her particular areas of interest and specialization. This system would later become known as the
Phystech System. In a letter to Stalin in February 1946, Kapitsa
argued for the need for such a school, which he tentatively called the Moscow Institute
of Physics and Technology, to better maintain and develop the country’s defense potential. The institute would follow the principles
outlined above and was supposed to be governed by a board of directors of the leading research
institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences. On March 10, 1946, the government issued a
decree mandating the establishment of a “College of Physics and Technology” (Russian: Высшая
физико-техническая школа). For unknown reasons, the initial plan came
to a halt in the summer of 1946. The exact circumstances are not documented,
but the common assumption is that Kapitsa’s refusal to participate in the atomic bomb
project and his disfavor with the government and communist party that followed, cast a
shadow over an independent school based largely on his ideas. Instead, a new government decree was issued
on November 25, 1946 establishing the new school as a Department of Physics and Technology
within Moscow State University. November 25 is celebrated as the date of MIPT’s
founding. Kapitsa foresaw that within a traditional
educational institution, the new school would encounter bureaucratic obstacles, but even
though Kapitsa’s original plan to create the new school as an independent organization
did not come to fruition exactly as envisioned, its most important principles survived intact. The new Department enjoyed considerable autonomy
within Moscow State University. Its facilities were in Dolgoprudny (the two
buildings it occupied are still part of the present day campus), away from the MSU campus. It had its own independent admissions and
education system, different from the one centrally mandated for all other universities. It was headed by the MSU “vice rector for
special issues”—a position created specifically to shield the department from the University
management. As Kapitsa expected, the special status of
the new school with its different “rules of engagement” caused much consternation and
resistance within the university. The immediate cult status that Phystech gained
among talented young people, drawn by the challenge and romanticism of working on the
forefront of science and technology and on projects of “government importance,” many
of them classified, made it an untouchable rival of every other school in the country,
including MSU’s own Department of Physics. At the same time, the increasing disfavor
of Kapitsa with the government (in 1950 he was essentially under house arrest) and anti-semitic
repressions of the late 1940s made Phystech an easy target of intrigues and accusations
of “elitism” and “rootless cosmopolitanism.” In the summer of 1951, the Phystech department
at MSU was shut down.A group of academicians, backed by Air Force general Ivan Fedorovich
Petrov, who was a Phystech supporter influential enough to secure Stalin’s personal approval
on the issue, succeeded in re-establishing Phystech as an independent institute. On September 17, 1951, a government decree
re-established Phystech as the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.Apart from Kapitsa,
other prominent scientists who taught at MIPT in the years that followed included Nobel
prize winners Nikolay Semyonov, Lev Landau, Alexandr Prokhorov, Vitaly Ginzburg; and Academy
of Sciences members Sergey Khristianovich, Mikhail Lavrentiev, Mstislav Keldysh, Sergey
Korolyov and Boris Rauschenbach. MIPT alumni include Andre Geim and Konstantin
Novoselov, the 2010 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics.==The Phystech System==
The following is a summary of the key principles of the Phystech System, as outlined by Kapitsa
in his 1946 letter arguing for the founding of MIPT: Rigorous selection of gifted and creative
young individuals. Involving leading scientists in student education,
in close contact with them in their creative environment. An individualized approach to encourage the
cultivation of students’ creative drive and to avoid overloading them with unnecessary
subjects and rote learning common in other schools and necessitated by mass education. Conducting their education in an atmosphere
of research and creative engineering, using the best existing laboratories in the country.In
its implementation, the Phystech System combines highly competitive admissions, extensive fundamental
education in mathematics, as well as theoretical and experimental physics in the undergraduate
years and immersion in research work at leading research institutions of the Russian Academy
of Sciences starting as early as the second or third year.==Departments==
The institute has eleven departments, ten of them with an average of 80 students admitted
annually into each. Radio Engineering and Cybernetics
General and Applied Physics Aerophysics and Space Research
Molecular and Biological Physics Physical and Quantum Electronics
Aeromechanics and Flight Engineering Applied Mathematics and Control
Problems of Physics and Power Engineering Innovation and High Technology
Nano-, Bio-, Information and Cognitive Technologies==
Admissions==Most students apply to MIPT immediately after
graduating from high school at the age of 17. Child prodigies are occasionally admitted
at a younger age after skipping grades in school. Because admission is competitive, some of
those who are not admitted reapply in subsequent years. Traditionally, applicants were required to
take written and oral exams in both mathematics and physics, write an essay and have an interview
with the faculty. The interview has always been an important
part of the selection process. Sometimes an applicant with lower exam grades
could be admitted and one with higher grades rejected, based solely on the interview results. In recent years, oral exams have been eliminated,
but the interview remains an important part of the selection process. The strongest performers in national physics
and mathematics competitions and IMO/IPhO participants are granted admission without
exams, subject only to the interview. In accordance with the traditions of the Soviet
education system, education at MIPT is free for most students. Further, students receive small scholarships
(as of 2012, $80–$100 per month, depending on the student’s performance) and rather cheap
housing on campus, which allows them to study full-time.==
Education==It normally takes six years for a student
to graduate from MIPT. The curriculum of the first three years consists
exclusively of compulsory courses, with emphasis on mathematics, physics and English. There are no significant curriculum differences
between the departments in the first three years. A typical course load during the first and
second years can be over 48 hours a week, not including homework. Classes are taught five days a week, beginning
at 9:00 am or 10:30 am and continuing until 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm, or 8:00 pm. Most subjects include a combination of lectures
and seminars (problem-solving study sessions in smaller groups) or laboratory experiments. Lecture attendance is optional, while seminar
and lab attendance affects grades. Andre Geim, a graduate and Nobel prize winner
stated “The pressure to work and to study was so intense that it was not a rare thing
for people to break and leave and some of them ended up with everything from schizophrenia
to depression to suicide.”MIPT follows a semester system. Each semester includes 15 weeks of instruction,
two weeks of finals and then three weeks of oral and written exams on the most important
subjects covered in the preceding semester. Starting with the third year, the curriculum
matches each student’s area of specialization and also includes more elective courses. Most importantly, starting with the third
year, students begin work at base institutes (or “base organizations,” usually simply called
bases). The bases are the core of the Phystech system. Most of them are research institutes, usually
belonging to the Russian Academy of Sciences. At the time of enrollment, each student is
assigned to a base that matches his or her interests. Starting with the third year, a student begins
to commute to their base regularly, becoming essentially a part-time employee. During the last two years, a student spends
4–5 days a week at their base institute and only one day at MIPT. The base organization idea is somewhat similar
to an internship in that students participate in “real work.” However, the similarity ends there. All base organizations also have a curriculum
for visiting students and besides their work, the students are required to take those classes
and pass exams. In other words, a base organization is an
extension of MIPT, specializing in each particular student’s area of interests. While working at the base organization, a
student prepares a thesis based on his or her research work and presents (“defends”)
it before the Qualification Committee consisting of both MIPT faculty and the base organization
staff. Defending the thesis is a requirement for
graduation.===Base organizations===
As of 2005, MIPT had 103 base organizations. The following list of institutes is currently
far from being complete: Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental
Studies (established 1991) Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology
RAS Gromov Flight Research Institute
Institute for Information Transmission Problems RAS
Institute for Nuclear Research RAS Institute for Physical Problems
Institute for High Energy Physics (1963) Institute for Problems in Mechanics RAS
Institute for Spectroscopy Russian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics
Institute of Biochemical Physics RAS Institute of Molecular Genetics RAS
Institute of Numerical Mathematics RAS Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics
RAS (1956) Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics
of RAS Institute of Solid State Physics RAS
Institute of Synthetic Polymer Materials RAS Joint Institute for Nuclear Research
Kurchatov Institute (formerly Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy)
Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics Lebedev Institute of Physics RAS (FIAN)
Lebedev Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Engineering
N.N. Andreyev Acoustics Institute
N.N. Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics, RAS
Nuclear Safety Institute of RAS (IBRAE) Shirshov Institute of Oceanology
Shubnikov Institute of Crystallography RAS Space Research Institute RAS (1965)
Steklov Institute of Mathematics Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute
and a number of OKBs (experimental design bureaux)In addition, a number of Russian and
Western companies act as base organizations of MIPT. These include: 1C Company
ABBYY Competentum Group or Physicon
NPMP “Concept Consulting” Intel
IPG Photonics Kraftway
MetaSynthesis Paragon Software Group
S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia
SWsoft Yandex==Degrees and reputation==
Before 1998, students could graduate only after completing the full six-year curriculum
and defending their thesis. Upon successful graduation, they were awarded
a specialist degree in Applied Mathematics and Physics and, beginning in the early 1990s,
a Master’s degree in Physics. Since 1998, students have been awarded a Bachelor’s
degree diploma after four years of study and the defense of a Bachelor’s “qualification
work” (effectively a smaller and less involved version of the Master’s thesis). An estimated 90% of students continue their
education after receiving this diploma to complete the full six-year curriculum and
receive the Master’s degree. The full course of education at MIPT takes
six years to complete, just like an American Bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s degree. However, MIPT graduates usually view their
training as effectively higher than an American M.S. in Physics. The MIPT curriculum is, indeed, considerably
more extensive compared to an average American college. In addition, American M.S. programs usually
focus more on classroom education and less on research. There is an opinion that an MIPT specialist/Master’s
diploma may be roughly equivalent to an American Ph.D. in physics—possibly an undue generalization
which, however, may be true in some cases.. Traditional university rankings are based
on the universities’ research output and prizes won by faculty. In contrast, many distinguished professors
teaching at MIPT are officially on staff at the base institutes (see above) rather than
MIPT itself. Student research work is also typically carried
out outside of MIPT and published research results do not mention MIPT. In effect, many MIPT professors are not considered
as such for the rankings and student research is not earning any ranking points for MIPT.==People=====
Demographics===About 15% of all students are residents of
Moscow and nearly the same are from Moscow region; the rest come from all over the former
Soviet Union. Most out-of-town students live in the dormitory
on campus for at least the first 4 years. Many senior students move to another dormitory
in Moscow, while some either move to base institute dormitories or rent apartments. The student population is almost exclusively
male, with the female/male ratio in a department rarely exceeding 15% (seeing 2-3 women in
a class of 80 is not uncommon). In recent years, this situation has changed
and in 2009 more than 20% of first year students were females.There are no reliable statistics
on the careers of MIPT graduates. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union,
most MIPT graduates continued research at their base institutes or found jobs in OKBs. Nowadays, many graduates become business people
or software engineers. Some, especially high-performing students
of prestigious departments (e.g. DGAP, DCAM), go on to get post-graduate degrees from foreign
universities. In the past, some students were known to have
been admitted into Ph.D. programs of American universities as early as after their 3rd year
of education. Many MIPT alumni hold faculty positions in
the world’s top Universities, including Harvard, University of Manchester, Princeton University,
MIT, Columbia, Stanford, Brown, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.===
Famous faculty and alumni=======Scientists====
Nobel Prize winners Lev Landau – prominent Russian physicist,
Nobel Prize 1962 Pyotr Kapitsa – discovered superfluidity,
Nobel Prize 1978 Nikolay Semyonov – best known for his work
on chain reactions, Nobel Prize 1956 in chemistry Vitaly Ginzburg – prominent physicist, Nobel
Prize 2003, co-developer of the Soviet H-bomb Alexandr Prokhorov – a co-inventor of the
laser, Nobel Prize 1964 Sir Andrey Geim – discoverer of graphene,
gecko tape and levitating frogs; Fellow of the Royal Society, Nobel Prize in physics,
2010 Sir Konstantin Novoselov – Nobel Prize in
physics for graphene research, 2010Other prominent scientists Boris Babaian – a pioneer of Russian supercomputers,
an Intel Fellow 2004 and software architect Oleg Belotserkovsky – rector of MIPT (1962–1987),
prominent mathematician and mechanician Andrei Bolibrukh – a mathematician who solved
Hilbert’s twenty-first problem in 1989 Nikolai Borisovich Delone – a physicist who
discovered multiphoton ionization. Yurij Ionov – discovered genome instability
as a mechanism in colonic carcinogenesis Alexander Holevo – a mathematician known for
Holevo’s theorem Leonid Khachiyan – famous for his Ellipsoid
method for linear programming, Fulkerson Prize (1982)
Sergei Lebedev – invented MESM (1950) and BESM (1953) mainframe computers
Alexander Migdal – defined 2D quantum gravity, 2D/3D visualization software and internet
entrepreneur Viatcheslav Mukhanov – contributor to the
theory of cosmological inflation Sergey Nikolsky – prominent Russian mathematician
Alexander Polyakov – quantum field theory classics, Dirac’86 and Lorentz’94 Medals
Emmanuel Rashba – known for the Rashba effect and prediction of the Electric dipole spin
resonance, Lenin Prize. Boris Rauschenbach – rocket scientist in control
engineering, responsible for the first photographs of the far side of the Moon (1959)
Mikhail Shifman – non-perturbative QCD classics, Sakurai Prize (1999), Lilienfeld Prize (2006)
Rashid Sunyaev – an author of the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect and a model of black holes
Victor Veselago – put forward a theory for metamaterials of the 21st century in 1967
Alexander Zamolodchikov – quantum field theory classics====
Cosmonauts====Yuri Baturin – cosmonaut (1998 and 2001 missions),
former head of national security Aleksandr Kaleri – cosmonaut, spent 609 days
on the Mir and ISS space stations Aleksandr Serebrov – cosmonaut, 373 days in
outer space (four flights)====Famous political and business persons
====Alexander Abramov – founder of Evraz Group,
#137 on the Forbes list Boris Aleshin – deputy prime minister in Russian
government (2003–2004), president of AvtoVAZ (2007–2009), general director of TsAGI (2009-)
Aleksandr Frolov – CEO of Evraz Group, #390 on the Forbes list
Mikhail Kirpichnikov – Russian Science & Technology Minister (1998–2000), dean of Biology at
MSU (2006-) Pavlo Klimkin – Minister of Foreign Affairs
of Ukraine. Alex Konanykhin – Entrepreneur, former banker,
former Russian oligarch, with political asylum in the United States. Nikolay Kudryavtsev – rector of MIPT (1997-),
director of Schlumberger (2007-) Nikolay Storonsky – founding CEO of British
fintech company Revolut (2015-) Boris Saltykov – Russian Minister of Science
and Technology (1991–1996) Natan Sharansky – Israeli Cabinet Minister
(1996–2005), US Congressional Gold Medal (1986)
Volodymyr Shkidchenko – Defense Minister of Ukraine (2003–2004), four-star general of
the Army Dmitry Zelenin – governor of Tverskaya Oblast
(2004–2011) David Yang – developer of Cybiko, founder
of ABBYY company Serguei Beloussov – Russian businessman, entrepreneur,
investor and speaker, founder of Acronis, executive chairman of the board and chief
architect of Parallels, Inc. Ratmir Timashev – American and Swiss businessman,
entrepreneur, investor, co-founder and CEO of Veeam and Aelita Software Corporation,
founder of ABRT Fund