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Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

The famous Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has been founded 60 years ago in November 25, 1946. The background principles of teaching students at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) are similar in many respects to the ideas of students receiving their education at the world famous universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Californian Institute of Technology, Humboldt University, Ecole Polytechnique, Churchill College of Cambridge University.

First of all students receive intense theoretical training in conjunction with the appropriate skills that will enable them to apply their theoretical knowledge in solving practical tasks. Theoretical courses should not become unused baggage, but should be able to be used in practical situations. For this reason MIPT  is a unique technical university, with its graduates successfully working in both research institutes and businesses.

MIPT was founded in 1946 for the purpose of training specialists gifted in developing new technologies, particularly, those that could be used for both defense and civil applications. The founders of the institute were notable scientists, including Nobel Prize winners Peter Kapitsa, Nikolay Semenov, Lev Landau; academicians Igor Kurchatov and Mikhail Lavrentyev; and many other well-known researchers. These men were confident that the countryís survival depended on the accelerated development of such technologies. A combination of university-level knowledge in physics and mathematics, skills to conduct complex experiments, and the ability to work independently in the solution of complicated tasks and projects formed the base of MIPTís educational programs.

nobel prize winner kapitsa
The Nobel Prize winner Peter Kapitsa played a very large role in founding MIPT foundation. From 1921 until 1934 he worked in Cambridge, UK in an institute led by a great physicist of the twentieth century, the Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford.
When MIPT was formed, the best traditions of the English school were embodied in its foundation.

During the late 1940s and the early 1950s, ideological press in the USSR was especially strong. The struggle "for cleanness of Lenin-Stalin doctrine" penetrated into the academic sciences as well. Articles by world-renown scientific authorities fell under the scrutiny of "Marxist philosophers," who would determine whether a scientist stood on the only correct position of objective materialism or whether he adhered to false bourgeois idealistic outlooks. Otherwise their works were declared as false, distracting Soviet scientists from the correct directions. For example, the world famous biologist and two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling was ranked in the USSR as a "bourgeois obscurant." In one of his articles he wrote that although he did not have proof that electrons and atoms behaved in accordance with his theory, still he thought that it was a good theory since it enabled the prediction of properties of synthesized structures. This was enough to declare him as obscurant and pseudoscientist. When it became clear in the late 1960s that Pauling was a progressive western scientist with a worldwide scope of interest, he was considered "rehabilitated." He visited the USSR, lectured at major scientific centers, and his theories were received with enthusiasm.

MIPT originally was founded as the closed faculty of the Moscow State University (MSU). The word "closed" meant that specialists were initially trained to work in the defense industry. For this reason, persons with strong ideological backgrounds but who were weak in physics and mathematics were not allowed to manage MIPTís educational programs. In practice it meant that "closed" institutions could continue conducting research in "bourgeois" areas of science. For example, the Institute of Atomic Energy (where the Soviet atomic bomb was designed) carried out research in the field of genetics, calling it "research of influence of active radiation on biological objects." Cybernetics research was named "usage of electronic computers for solution of economic tasks."

Although scientists and engineers could not publish articles in open printing, they were sufficiently informed about the last achievements in the "closed" areas.

It is important to understand how strong the ideological press was and what a powerful influence it could have on personal life. A vivid example of such influence can be seen in the destiny of academician Nikolay Vavilov. This world famous biologist worked intensely to produce new varieties of drought-resistant wheat and other plants. All his life he struggled against famine. In the 1940s he was arrested and died in prison. He died from starvation.

Other eminent Soviet physicists, chemists, and biologists lost work. For example, the Nobel Prize winner Landau was denied the opportunity to teach at the Physical Faculty of MSU. However, Landau, along with some of these other scientists, was accepted to the Faculty of Physics and Technology of MSU. This was possible because the faculty was "closed." This situation irritated "ideological comrades." Eventually in the spring of 1951, the Faculty of Physics and Technology of MSU was closed. But in the autumn of the same year it was reopened again as an independent institute. The practical requirements for highly skilled specialists were more stringent than ideological qualifications.
All these misadventures resulted in benefiting the institute. The spirit of freedom, lack of fear of authorities, and independent research were saved. In many respects, the uniqueness of MIPT and its position as a leader among other educational institutions are a direct result from the freedom the institute had in choosing training programs, and the fact that it never attached excessive significance to ideological trends. These attributes attracted the famous scientists and designers who became teachers at MIPT.

nobel prize winner semenov
The creation of traditions at MIPT was influenced greatly by another Nobel Prize winner, Nikolay Semenov. Many students who studied at MIPT during the 1950-1960 decade will remember the bright speeches of Kapitsa and Semenov at traditional annual institute celebrations.

MIPT graduates hold important positions in other fields as well as in the areas of science and research. Graduates from the institute include ministers and other public figures who hold positions in Russia and other countries as well. For example, MIPT graduate Nathan Scharansky is Vice-Premier of Israel. After finishing his education at MIPT, he was arrested for his public activity, imprisoned in the GULAG for more than nine years, and then exiled from the USSR. In 1989 President Ronald Reagan awarded Scharansky with the Medal of Freedom.
In the mid 1990s, Scharansky arrived in Moscow as the Minister of Industry and Trade of Israel and was received in the city with all appropriate honors. Perhaps most remarkable, however, was his meeting at the Ministry of Science and Technologies which was headed by another MIPT graduate Vladimir Fortov.
In 2000, Scharansky once more returned to Moscow to participate in the opening of the Jewish Community Center. President Vladimir Putin welcomed him to the Kremlin.
Many MIPT graduates have become famous not only for their professional training, but also for their civil activity and leadership as well.

best russian computer
This old photo brings pleasant memories from more than 30 years ago. These are the designers of the most successful Soviet computer, BESM-6, after its delivery to the state commission. Second from the right is famous Russian computer designer and IEEE Computer Pioneer Award recipient Sergey Lebedev. He was the founder of the Computer Designing chair in MIPT. When you see these happy people, you understand what being a team means. Our task is to teach the MIPT students to work not only as individuals, but also as team members who take pride in the combined success of their group and not just in their own individual achievements.

Traditionally at Russian universities, the education process takes five years and graduates receive specialist diplomas (Engineer, Mathematician, Physicist). During the 1990s Russian universities decided to switch to a western system of awarding educational degrees (Bachelors, Masters), which created a great deal of difficulty for them. Because MIPT from the inception of its educational programs had required six years of training, the transition to a western system passed without any serious consequences.
The program of education for the majority of the students MIPT is the following. Most of them is trained in MIPT during six years. For the first three years, all MIPT students are trained in one program, irrespective of further specialization. A fundamental knowledge in physics and mathematics is mandatory for all students. On the fourth year of training in MIPT the students more time study the special disciplines. At the end of academic year the students represent the dissertation on competition of the bachelor's degree. As a rule, it is a small scientific research, initial point for the future work on the master's degree. During the last two years of their education, students are thoroughly trained in a focused specialization, and must fulfill complex practical tasks that become the basis for their master theses.

In addition to  the fundamental education, that includes also the study of humanitarian disciplines, there is an opportunity to receive the  additional education in computer science. MIPT gives an opportunity for the students and specialists to expand their knowledge in the area of the majority of disciplines listed in Computer Science Curriculum 2001. More detail about today life of MIPT you can find out on the MIPT site.