March 13, 2014
The World Belongs to Professionals Today
Valery Michailovich, you’ve headed SM-6 subdepartment at "Special Engineering" department in BMSTU recently. What specific tasks do you set for yourself being both the head of the subdepartment and the head of one of the largest defense companies?
The traditional tasks for which SM-6 subdepartment was established are to provide the defense industry with the well-trained specialists who are able to continue the work at a high level which is specific to our enterprises and organizations of the adjacent profile that design and produce missiles and artillery weapons. Other activities of the department – R&D, development projects - ensure the main task implementation.
What fresh content, in your opinion, should the partnership between the plants and technical universities have to make the new MIC industry projects really disruptive ones?
In the turbulent 1990s there was a definite gap between the industrial enterprises and universities. It is high time to join forces again: to organize a learning process in accordance with the current and future needs of the industry, to train engineers who’ll be able to create competitive products.
Above all, it is necessary to provide a mutual flow of information. We have to admit that most of the leading companies in the country went ahead of higher educational institutions in their development. It happened through no fault of institutions but it is so. The industry should give all its power to provide the university curricula, programs and research papers with the new knowledge and technology. And my appearance at the subdepartment is intended to serve this purpose.
What makes your company innovative? How do you manage to turn your bold ideas into products and technological opportunities?
I do not like the words “breakthrough”, “innovative”. For many years the leading companies in the defense industry have been creating the products, which are now named as innovative. The main criterion was not a match but superiority over the best world analogues. We’ve achieved such a result practically always. The vast majority of products taken into services are the best in their class. I’m not going to praise our company too much but I’ll give an example.
Designed by the Special Design Bureau (KBM was called in such a way during the period from 1942 to 1964) at the dawn of its existence 120mm mortar was recognized as the best mortar of World War II. The head of the enterprise then was its founder – an outstanding designer Boris Shavyrin. It’s well known that after the Ukraine was occupied, the Germans captured the engineering documentation for 120mm mortar at the Kharkov plant, adapted the drawings for their own industry, and from 1943, factories in Germany and in the occupied countries of Europe began to produce a dangerous weapon.
If we return to today, it will be instructive to recall the words of the president of Russia Vladimir V. Putin who says that Tactical Ballistic Missile System “Iskander-M” is the best weapon in this class in the world. The international experts share the same opinion. The other missile systems, developed by KBM, can be given the same estimate. We have always put original solutions, the newest materials, progressive technologies in our products.
To turn the ideas into off-the-shelf products, it’s necessary to meet a variety of requirements. Firstly, it refers to the state of industry in the country that guarantees the supply of materials, components and element base. Secondly, appropriate technological and bench-top equipment must be in stock; thirdly, it’s necessary to have highly-qualified personnel. Finally, the social attitude to the defense has a great influence on the development of MIC. In the 1990s it was negative. The army was blamed for wasting the national money and it was considered a heavy stone on the “neck” of economics. As a result MIC was half-ruined, the status of engineer was depreciated. Fortunately, the situation has changed by now. The society understands that our products are the base of national safety, and it’s become obvious for everyone that safety should be provided daily and hourly.
What tasks does defense industry set before the engineers today?
Defense industry needs young specialists. Leading experts who work in MIC nowadays are at the preretirement age and they need “to grow up the rising generation”. Young specialists are considered to have new knowledge of informatics, control systems, modern technologies and methods of working, including work management. MIC especially needs designers. There are fewer problems with the development engineers of singular instrumental systems. We have a high demand for programmers. And universities graduate them in good supply. Any idea that is going to get start in life must come to a designer. People capable of thinking creatively are in short supply now.
Could you tell us what part Bauman graduates play in the development of the corporation today?
The part of Bauman graduates is historically high. There were five directors at our KBM during its 70- year history. Except for Boris Ivanovich Shavyrin all of us worked our way up from young specialist to a director and chief, or general, designer. Three of us – B.I.Shavyrin, S.P.Nepobedimy and I are graduates of Bauman School.
There were many graduates of Bauman School among the first deputy directors, developers, chief designers and, of the course, leading specialists, including legendary personalities who made an invaluable contribution to creation of weapon samples: A.S.Ter-Stepanyan, N.F.Zhuravlev, V.L.Uvarov, E.G.Chalaviev and the others.
And nowadays two of four chief designers of scientific and technological directions are Bauman graduates.
The connections between KBM and BMSTU are close. The University and especially our SM-6 subdepartment have always had an excellent quality of education.
Why is it attractive for a young specialist to work for such an organization as SPC "Machine-building Design Bureau"?
Before answering this question it is necessary to understand what exactly attracts a young engineer. If it’s only a high salary, no matter what he or she will do then that’s the one thing. If a person focuses on interesting and challenging work but considers a high salary and other favourable conditions to be the result of his or her work then that’s the other thing. We’re looking for the latter and all necessary conditions for them to become high-grade professionals are created.
Young specialists are paid bonuses in order to make their salary comparable with an average one at the corporation. Meal allowances are provided. There’s also a solution to a housing problem: we may give dormitories, pay housing rent, or subsidize the interest rate for condominium conversion on the basis of the mortgage credit.
However, the main thing is that we guarantee the immediate involvement in a very energetic and interesting work and as I’ve said before if there’s a desire to work and to become better, we also guarantee quick career progress. We have some examples when in several years after gaining a diploma young engineer have become leading developers and held high administrative posts with appropriate salaries.