A delegation of students from the U.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited Russia’s Skolkovo innovation hub this week in a move expected to boost progress in an ambitious project to establish a world-class technology institute near Moscow.
A dozen students from the top U.S. university met with the leaders of Skolkovo’s five scientific clusters as part of a partnership that will result in the establishment of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, dubbed SkTech for short.
The MIT students also met with some of their fellow students from the Skokovo Open University, an extramural program in advanced sciences, launched by the Skolkovo foundation last year.
The Open University was set up to prepare future researchers for the new Skolkovo, expected to be set up in three years time.
The visit comes as Skolkovo sets up its own technology institute
The MIT student visit was promoted as a first step toward a cooperative future between the two institutions, which will include exchanges and sharing of research.
Bram Caplan, the newly elected director of student affairs for SkTech told The Moscow News that MIT does not view the project as an offshoot of its U.S. campus, but rather as a partnership, aimed at exchanging the best aspects of technical education between the two countries.
The project also fits in with MIT’s wider goal to become a global international institution.
“We are trying to drop in some of the strength of both systems and integrate education, research and innovation so that we can solve real problems of the world, such as problems in energy and ecology,” Caplan said. “We want our students to go out and save the world.”
Beracah Yankama, a post-graduate student of bioinformatics (mathematic modeling of biological processes) at MIT, told The Moscow News that he had enjoyed being able to share his experiences of MIT with his Russian counterparts.
Yankama said that, in return, the MIT students were learning about Russia, its economy and some aspects of its legal framework for innovation companies.
Patricia Gerick, associate director of the MIT Science and Technology Initiatives, told The Moscow News that the institute encourages its students to travel abroad, and many of them stay to work in the countries they have been sent to study.
The Skolkovo foundation’s own chief operating office, Steve Geigner, even fits into this category, being part of the MIT alumni.
“Last year we sent about 500 MIT students for studies and internships in companies located in different parts of the world,” Yankama said.