Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University
Санкт-Петербургский Политехнический Университет Петра Великого
Type Public / National research university
Established 1899
Endowment US $298 million
President Yuriy S. Vasiliev
Rector Andrey I. Rudskoy
Academic staff
Administrative staff
5274 (in Jan 2012)
Students 30,197 (2,916 foreign)
Address Russia, 195251, St.Petersburg, Polytechnicheskaya, 29., Saint Petersburg, Russia, Russian Federation
Colours Green/Yellow
Nickname Polytechnicheskiy Institute
Mascot Two-Headed Eagle

Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University (Санкт-Петербургский Политехнический Университет Петра Великого, abbreviated as SPbPU; also, formerly "Saint Petersburg State Technical University", abbreviated as SPbSTU) is a major Russian technical university situated in Saint Petersburg. Other former names included Peter the Great Polytechnic Institute (Политехнический Институт императора Петра Великого) and Kalinin Polytechnic Institute (Ленинградский Политехнический Институт имени Калинина). The university is considered to be one of the top research facilities in Russian Federation and CIS member states and is a leading educational facility in the field of applied physics and mathematics, industrial engineering, chemical engineering, aerospace engineering and many other academic disciplines. On a national scale, SPbPU in Russian Federation is somewhat akin to Caltech in the United States (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology is normally referred to as "The Russian MIT"). Currently (2012) SPbPU is ranked among the top 400 in the World. It houses one of the country's most advanced research labs in hydroaerodynamics. University's alumni include famous Nobel Prize winners, such as Pyotr Kapitsa, prominent nuclear physicists and atomic weapon designers such as (Yulii Khariton, Nikolay Dukhov), world-class aircraft designers and aerospace engineers, such as (Yulii Khariton, Oleg Antonov, Nikolai Polikarpov and Georgy Beriev). The university offers academic programs to Bachelor, Master's and Doctorate degree levels. SPbSPU consists of structural units called Institutes divided into three categories:[1]


Official names

The university has undergone several name changes throughout its existence. Detailed list of name changes is as following:

Imperial Russia

Saint Petersburg Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1899 as the most advanced engineering school in Russia. The main person promoting the creation of this university was the Finance Minister Count Sergei Witte who saw establishing a first-class engineering school loosely modeled by the French École Polytechnique as an important step towards the industrialization of Russia. The idea was advanced by agricultural scientist and Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Kovalevsky and the great chemist Dmitri Mendeleev who are often considered to be the founders of the school.

The first director of the institute became Prince Andrey Gagarin. Ivan Meshersky was professor of St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. Unlike École Polytechnique the polytechnic institute was always considered to be a civilian establishment. In tsarist Russia it was subordinated to the Ministry of Finance; its students and faculty wore the uniform of the ministry.

The main campus was built by the architect Ernst Virrikh (Эрнст Францевич Виррих) on the rural lands beyond the dacha settlement Lesnoye. The location was intended to provide some separation between the campus and the capital city of Saint Petersburg.

The institute was opened to students on October 1, 1902. Originally there were four departments: Economics, Shipbuilding, Electro-mechanics and Metallurgy.

Its work was interrupted by the Russian Revolution of 1905. One student, M. Savinkov, was killed during the Bloody Sunday events of January 22 [O.S. January 9] 1905. The reaction of other students was so strong that classes resumed much later in September 1906 almost two years after. Among the polytechnic students who participated in the Revolutionary events were the future prominent bolshevik Mikhail Frunze and the future prominent writer Yevgeny Zamyatin. Among the deputies of the First Duma were four Polytechnic Institute's faculties: N.A. Gredeskul (Н.А. Гредескул), N.I. Kareev (Н.И. Кареев), A.S. Lomshakov (А.С. Ломшаков) and L.N. Yasnopolsky (Л.Н. Яснопольский).

In 1909 the Shipbuilding Department opened the School of Aviation. It was the first aviation and aerodynamics school in Russia. In 1911 the same department opened the School for Car Manufacturing.

In 1910 the institute was named Peter the Great Polytechnic Institute after Peter I of Russia. In 1914 the number of students reached 6,000.

Ioffe's physics seminar at the Polytechnic Institute, among the people in the picture: Yakov Frenkel sits first on the left, next to him Nikolay Semyonov, Abram Ioffe sits in the center, Pyotr Kapitsa is on the left

With the onset of World War I many students found themselves in the Army and soon the number of students decreased to 3,000. Some students, like future Soviet military commander Leonid Govorov studied at the institute for one month. Part of the institutes's buildings were transferred into the Maria Fyodorovna Hospital at that time the largest military hospital in Russia.

Despite the war the institute did not stop its work. In 1916 Abram Ioffe opened his Physics Seminar at the Polytechnic Institute. The seminar prepared three Nobel Prize-winners and many other prominent Russian physicists. Eventually, this seminar became the core of the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute.


On June 5, 1918 the institute was renamed to First Polytechnic Institute (with the Second Polytechnic Institute being the former Women's Polytechnic Institute). In November 1918 Sovnarkom abolished all forms of scientific decrees, licenses and certifications. There remained only two positions for the faculty: Professor (that required three years of engineering experience) and instructor (with no formal requirements at all). Departments were renamed Faculties (факультеты), and the director became rector. Main power in the Institute was given to the Soviet (Council) of 11 professors and 15 students. The most active student in the Soviet was the future Nobel-prize winner Pyotr Kapitsa.

In March 1919 two additional faculties were formed: Physico-mechanics (fizikomekhanicheskij) and Chemistry. The Physico-mechanics faculty was at that time headed by Abram Ioffe and was devoted to the atomic and the solid state physics, which was an absolute novelty for an Engineering school of 1918.

In winter of 1918/1919 there was no heating on the campus because of the lack of fuel, many students and faculty members died of starvation and freezing. In the beginning 1919 there were only around 500 students at the University. In August 1919 the new semester started but on August 24 all the students were mobilized to fight Yudenich army. The Institute itself was encircled by truncheons and barbed wire and transformed into a Red Army fortification. After December 1919 the Institute was completely empty.

Soviet times

The Institute started working again in April 1920 when it became a part of the planning team for the GOELRO plan. Professor of the Institute, A. V. Wulf was the chairman of the group working on the electrification of the Northern Region of RSFSR. The Institute developed projects of the Volkhov hydroelectric dam on the Volkhov River and the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station on the Dnieper River.

In autumn 1920 because of the cold weather and the absence of heating some lectures were often only attended by one or two students. At that difficult time Nikolay Semyonov and Pyotr Kapitsa, discovered a way to measure the magnetic field of an atomic nucleus. Later the experimental setup was improved by Otto Stern and Walther Gerlach and became known as Stern–Gerlach experiment. In another laboratory another student of the Institute, Léon Theremin worked on his electronic musical instruments. His first demonstration of the theremin was held in Polytechnic Institute on November 1920.

After the end of the Russian Civil War many students returned to the Institute. In the spring 1922 there were 2800 students there. In the Autumn 1922 the Institute got the new Agricultural Faculty on the base of the closed Agricultural Institute in Tsarskoe Selo.

In 1926 Sovnarkom re-established the title Engineer and allowed "children of working intelligentsia" to enter the tertiary schools (before only workers and children of workers were allowed). The number of students of the Polytechnic Institute reached the 1914 level of 6000. In 1928 there were 8000 students. In 1929 two new faculties were opened: Construction of Aircraft and Water resources.

In 1930 Sovnarkom decided to create a network of highly specialized Engineering schools. On June 30 Polytechnic Institute was closed and a number of independent institutes were created instead:

Soon another Institute of Military Mechanics forked from the Machine Building Institute.

In April 1934 most of these institutes were merged back into the Leningrad Industrial Institute. In 1935 it was the largest engineering school in the Soviet Union, with ten thousand students, 940 professors and teachers, and 2600 support staff.

In November 1940 the Institute almost got its original name back. Now it was named the Kalinin Politechnical Institute (Leningradskij Politekhnicheskij Institut imeni Kalinina) after the President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Mikhail Kalinin.

Study of the Ice Strength on the Road of Life by the Polytechnic Institute

With the onset of the Great Patriotic War 3500 students went to the Army, and hundreds were involved in constructing fortifications. The main building was transformed into a hospital, and another building was used as a tank school. Institute shops filled military contracts. On September 8, 1941 the Siege of Leningrad began. Research on the strength of ice by employees S. S. Golushkevich, P. P. Kobeko, N. M. Reyman and A. R. Shulman proved the feasibility of transporting vital materials across ice. The researchers selected the safest route for the Road of Life - the transport route across the frozen Lake Ladoga, which provided the only access to the besieged city.

Some faculties and students were evacuated to Tashkent in January 1943; where they were able to start classes. In November 1943 they restarted classes in Leningrad as well. In 1943 in Leningrad there were 250 students and 90 teachers at the Institute. The Polytechnic Institute was the only school in the besieged city that had the authority to evaluate the Kandidat (Ph.D) and Doctor of Science dissertations. Before the end of the siege they evaluated 19 dissertations (mostly defense-related). After the end of the war the Institute was rebuilt.

In 1988 the new Physics-Technical (Fiziko-Tekhnichesky) Department (faculty) of the Institute was created. The department is based on the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute and headed by the director of the Ioffe Institute Zhores Ivanovich Alferov (2000 recipient of the Nobel prize).

Current affairs

In September 1991 Leningrad returned its historical name Saint Petersburg and the Institute was renamed Saint Petersburg State Polytechnic University. Most people continue to call it Polytechnic Institute.

Today the Polytechnic University is a large educational complex that includes 23 Institutes and Faculties, 6 associated institutes outside Saint Petersburg in the cities of Pskov, Cheboksary, Cherepovets, Sosnoviy Bor, Smolensk and Anadyr, and many scientific research laboratories. There are over 30,000 students including 1100 postgraduates and 3000 international students.

Recent events



Structural units

Infrastructural units


More than 30,000 students are enrolled in the university. Since SPSPU is a world-class academic authority in applied physics and mathematics, over 3,000 foreign students (countries of origin include US, UK, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden and most of the CIS state members) elect to obtain their international bachelor's and master's degrees by completing 4 and 6 years study programs. Many courses are extremely cost-effective, approximately 4–5 times cheaper than an average US college, and are taught in Russian and English languages.

Student profile

Alumni and faculty

In total the University prepared more than 150,000 engineers. Among its alumni and faculty are:


Regional and national rankings

Positions of the Saint Petersburg State Polytechnic University are based on the rankings made by Expert RA (the largest rating agency in Russia and CIS).[3]

World ranking

See also


Coordinates: 60°00′26.41″N 30°22′22.66″E / 60.0073361°N 30.3729611°E / 60.0073361; 30.3729611

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