Technosphere - 1 year

    Many of you may have already heard or read in our blog about Technopark, a joint educational project of the Mail.Ru Group and MSTU. N.E. Bauman. But wait, there’s also the Technosphere. What this is, who it is and why these two projects are so similar, and how they differ, I will tell in this post.

    In February, exactly one year has passed since the launch of the Technosphere . This is a joint educational project of Mail.Ru Group and the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics of Moscow State University named after MV Lomonosov. Students are taught exclusively by Mail.Ru Group employees. Their goal is to prepare qualified specialists in the field of Big Data Analysis. The first ten graduates have recently received diplomas from the hands of Dmitry Grishin, CEO of Mail.Ru Group, and have already begun work.

    How did the Technosphere begin?

    The idea to create the Technosphere came from Dmitry Voloshin (@ Dmitry21), director of research and education at Mail.Ru Group. For a long time he wanted to make a project on the basis of M.V. Lomonosov. But it all started completely by accident. In the summer of 2013, the leadership of Moscow State University turned to Mail.Ru Group with a proposal to participate in a summer school for computer science teachers. There Dmitry Voloshin met with Mikhail Fedotov and spoke about the Technopark. So we decided to do a joint project with Moscow State University. But for this I had to carry out a lot of preparation.

    Coming up with a name was a separate story. It was time to launch the project, but there wasn’t any name. One of the collaborators, Ksenia Ragozina, the manager of the training organization, turned out to be a fan of Star Wars and suggested calling the project “Jedi Temple” or “Tatooine”. At Moscow State University, they proposed to name the project "Trust." A slight panic began until one of the employees came up with a bright idea to propose the name "Technosphere". It emphasized the connection with the Technopark project and immediately everyone liked it. We joked that if there is a project based on the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, we’ll call it Technoprud.

    What is the difference between Technosphere and Technopark?

    In fact, both projects are aimed at additional education in the field of IT technologies, but the nature and specifics of the projects are individual: in the Technopark they train web developers and architects of highly loaded systems, in the Technosphere they train qualified specialists in the Big Data field. When launching the Technosphere, we relied heavily on the experience of the Technopark. Even in the Technosphere there is a unique tradition - Pergolas. This is when students meet with teachers in an informal setting and talk, so to speak, “for life”, share experiences, ask questions that you won’t ask while studying. In general, the uniqueness of the Technosphere lies in a systematic approach to learning. The program is designed so competently that the student, having the fundamental knowledge gained at the faculty of the VMK Moscow State University, is immediately ready to go to work after graduating from the Technosphere. This is a huge plus of the project. The output is a ready-made employee for IT companies.

    How is the learning process in the technosphere?

    Now the project involves MSU students, students from the second to sixth year. In the first year they are expelled most often, and they have ceased to take the first year, because they are still just joining the educational process and are subject to a lot of work. Although five first-year students passed the first selection, only one came to the end - Daniil Medvedev, a graduate of the SSC Center at Moscow State University.

    We accept students twice a year - in February and September. For the entire existence of the project, we scored three streams. The first time the competition was about three people per place, the second - about five, and more recently - a little less than five applicants per place: in February there are fewer applicants, as practice shows. The guys take a logical test, a test for knowledge of C / C ++ and undergo a technical interview.

    Now training in the Technosphere lasts one year. Students study six subjects: algorithms for the intellectual processing of large amounts of data, methods for using the DBMS in the development of Internet applications, multithreaded programming in C ++, testing, information search and Hadoop. The course is aimed at gaining practical knowledge in the field of Internet technologies, and our colleagues share real experiences and cases from their practice with the younger generation of IT specialists. The course materials were recorded on video and are now available on the Technosphere website in the Video section. All classes are held in the classrooms of Moscow State University, and in December a student laboratory for data analysis was opened there. Now you can take an internship right on the spot, you no longer need to go to our office. In addition, in February this year, we launched four open courses. These are semester disciplines that can be completed by any MSU student in addition to the main program: methods for processing large amounts of data, development of Internet applications, Perl programming and an open course from our Microsoft colleagues “Programming Universal Applications in HTML and JavaScript”.

    Most of the participants in the Technosphere are students of the faculties of the VMK, mechmath and physics department, but this year the group from the faculty of materials science diversified the group. As in ordinary universities, not all pass the Technosphere exam after the first semester. Classes are held three times a week in the evenings, there is not enough time for personal life and entertainment.

    Last year we recruited 42 people, of which only 10 were transferred to the second semester. The rest left themselves, or did not pass the examination. By the way, at the recent selection there were people who did not pull the program for the first time, but apparently looked at the project differently and decided to do it again. Five to six people went to the second round of training.

    The average age of students is 20-21 years, and many are already writing their thesis. For some, the graduation theme coincides with the theme of classes, so that they successfully combine them with studying at a university. Future plans include increasing the training program to two years, extending from semester to one year the course on the subject “Data Mining” with the inclusion of two additional sections in it: “Algorithmic Compositions” and “Neural Networks”. Now the course is taught by Nikolai Anokhin (@anokhinn) and Ksenia Stroykova. We are also going to extend the DBMS course (Konstantin Osipov (@kostja) and Eugene Blikh (@bigbes)).

    Naturally, the issue of choosing a profession is an acute issue for all students. As for the graduates of the Technosphere, it all depends on the person. Most of the guys from the first issue are already employed: eight people work in the Target Mail.Ru project. The rest are in other companies and in our laboratory on the basis of Moscow State University.

    We also asked several questions about the Technosphere, Mikhail Valentinovich Fedotov, deputy dean of the faculty of the VMK Moscow State University named after MV Lomonosov.

    Mail.Ru Group: Did VMK have experience working with external companies?
    MV: We had such cooperation in the form of seminars, separate special courses, but such a large-scale one - for the first time. The technosphere has become an additional burden for students. Of course, not everyone reaches the end, but those who have been trained are very satisfied. I like the project in that it harmoniously complements our main program, gives students real knowledge and practical skills, without which it is impossible to develop.

    Mail.Ru Group: How did the faculty accept “strangers”?
    M.V .:As in any new business, there are always supporters and opponents. Some of our professors were against it, since the hours that students spent on self-education, they could spend on a graduation work. But, on the other hand, do not be in the Technosphere, it is very likely that students could leave to work and generally abandon their studies. Here, students were at the faculty, and they could always come to the supervisor to talk on term paper or thesis. Also, the knowledge that gives the Technosphere can be applied at the department when performing the thesis. I believe that this is an important project that needs to be expanded. I would like to attract other partners, for example, we have an interest in ABBYY in image processing, text recognition, and this will be in demand.

    Mail.Ru Group:What is unique about the Technosphere?
    MV: In a systematic approach to learning. The program is designed so competently that the student, having the fundamental knowledge gained at our faculty, is immediately ready to go to work at the end of the Technosphere. This is a huge plus of the project. We get ready-made personnel for IT companies at the exit. I also like the approach in which the company is not aimed at raising staff only for itself, but does it for the entire IT market.

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