Vladimir Payor, a PhD student at Saint Petersburg Mining University, was born in Krasnoyarsk. He was admitted to a local school with a particular focus on physics and mathematics. In his senior years, Vladimir started participating in various tech- and IT-related competitions and championships. The schoolboy even won some awards! Upon graduation, he, however, had to choose how to proceed further.
“There aren’t many professions at the nexus of physics and computer science, hardware and software. Usually, it is a matter of choice – you’re either an engineer or an IT guy. Automated information processing – my speciality – is one of the few actually being at the intersection between these disciplines. Graduates of this programme can work as programmers, electrical engineers, technologists,” says the Mining University student.
In 2015, Vladimir enrolled at Mining University, Automated Information Processing and Control Systems programme.
“Mining is Russia’s key industry. This is why ACS (Automatic Control System) engineers knowing how the minerals sector functions have a significant career advantage over their colleagues lacking such competence. I decided there would be no point in applying to a specialised IT university. After all, programming skills are up to 90% self-study. Teachers – they help us gain fundamental knowledge. Still, an automation engineer is a practitioner who uses the existing frameworks to solve applied tasks,” he explains.
“There is a common opinion it makes no difference to them whether to develop solutions for an ATM, rocket, oil & gas field or metallurgical works. An employee just acts on inputs and outputs and thereby can control any process. However, a person cannot understand how something works in detail if they are not savvy in manufacturing technologies. And if they are, they can be more effective at work,” he adds.
Mining University facilitates a research environment and ensures its laboratories are equipped with modern automation tools. These include a complete assembly line, control cabinets, controllers, other devices, Vladimir notes. An example of a practical assignment for students would be to develop a software application that should enable a camera to detect a faulty item. Such product should be then picked up with a robotic hand and placed either in a container for damaged goods or on a conveyor line.
Whilst Vladimir has not yet completed his education, it is worth mentioning that he has all the chances to become an in-demand professional. The world is in dire need of engineers, with Russia not being an exception.
Domestic experts say that the shortage of engineers and technicians is primarily due to process automation. There are a few specialists in this field, though – educational systems are not keeping up with technological changes. As a result, the demand for engineers for automated information processing and management systems is growing.
This can be seen in the number of job vacancies – three times more for ACS engineers than for economists and 20% more than for lawyers, Russia’s top recruiting agency HeadHunter informs.