Technical Education

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Technical Education


the training of engineers and technicians for work in industry, construction, transportation, communications, agriculture, and forestry. (The preparation of skilled workers for the national economy is carried out within the system of vocational-technical education.) The term “technical education” is also understood to include the theoretical and practical scientific knowledge and skills that permit a person receiving such education to solve production engineering and economic problems in his specialty.

In addition to specialized technical education, there is also supplementary and general technical education. Supplementary technical education provides students at higher educational institutions and specialized secondary educational institutions with the technical knowledge and skills required for the study and use of machines, mechanisms, equipment, and automatic control devices used in many areas of science, education, and culture. It includes technical and engineering disciplines that are studied in university departments of geology, chemistry, physics, and biology; in agricultural higher educational institutions in the departments of agriculture and veterinary medicine; in medical, pedagogical, and other institutes; and in specialized secondary educational institutions. The importance of supplementary technical education has grown with the increasing use of technical equipment in various areas of science and culture, for example, the technology of experimental research, computer technology, technical aids in education, and devices and instruments for medical diagnosis and therapy. General technical education is provided in general-education secondary schools and lays the foundation needed to acquire the technical knowledge and skills offered by a polytechnical education and on-the-job training.

The system of specialized technical education in the USSR includes the following areas of specialization: geology, mining, power engineering, metallurgy, machine building, instrumentation, radio electronics, timber engineering, chemical engineering, engineering in the area of the production of foodstuffs and consumer goods, construction, geodesy, hydrdmeteorology, transportation, and communications.

Specialists with higher technical educations are trained in poly-technical and industrial institutes, specialized higher technical educational institutions, including factory-based higher technical educational institutions, in the technical departments of several universities, and in higher technical military educational institutions. In 1975 the USSR’s 266 higher technical educational institutions accounted for approximately one-third of the country’s higher educational institutions. Polytechnical and specialized higher technical educational institutions have been established in many industrial centers in the Union and autonomous republics.

Programs for specialists in higher technical educational institutions are five or six years in length. The curriculum of each specialty consists of general science, general engineering, and specialized disciplines. Included in the program of general science disciplines are socioeconomic sciences (history of the CPSU, political economy, Marxist-Leninist philosophy, and scientific communism), higher mathematics, theoretical mechanics, physics, chemistry, a foreign language, and other subjects, depending on the specialty. General engineering studies include descriptive geometry and graphic arts, computer technology in engineering and economic analysis, machine components, the theory of mechanisms and machines, the technology of building materials, materials technology, strength of materials, electrical engineering, hydraulics and hydraulic machines, thermal engineering with thermodynamics, and other subjects, depending on the requirements of the specialty. The general science and general engineering disciplines provide for the training of specialists with broad backgrounds. In the programs for special disciplines, particular attention is given to those disciplines that provide the scientific foundation for specialist training, for example, the theory of various engineering processes, the theory, analysis, and design of specific machines and instruments, and automation.

Much attention is given to the training of future engineers in economics: students in all specialties study practical economics, organization, and the planning and control of production. The curricula of all specialties include a course on labor protection, which covers the fundamentals of occupational safety and fire-prevention technology. In accordance with the requirements of scientific and technological progress, courses on industrial electronics, automation, the automation of production processes, and the use of atomic energy in the national economy have been introduced into the curricula of higher technical educational institutes. The number of hours devoted to the study of mathematics has increased considerably; probability theory, statistics, and elements of linear programming and optimum process control are included in the general mathematics course.

Disciplines common to all specialties are most often studied in the first two or, sometimes, three years. Specialized training in most cases begins in the third or fourth year. During the program, students independently carry out a series of analytic graphic assignments and course projects; for example, in machine-building institutes such projects may examine the theory of machines and mechanisms, machine components, and hoisting machines and mechanisms. In the final semesters, students complete three to five course projects in their specialty (six to nine course projects in construction-engineering and architectural specialties). Students gain practical experience in student workshops and training grounds and in production training in factories. Higher technical education is completed when the student prepares and defends a diploma project or diploma thesis of an experimental nature. Graduates receive the title of engineer of the corresponding specialty. The level of scientific training is equivalent to that of graduates of technical institutes in the USA, Great Britain, Japan, and other countries who have completed a dissertation for the second professional academic degree, that is, the master’s degree.

The training of technicians is provided in specialized secondary educational institutions for a wide range of specialties that are narrower in scope than those offered at higher technical educational institutions. The curricula of technicums (secondary technical institutions) last 3½ to four years for students completing the eighth grade and 2½ to three years for students completing secondary school. Technicums for students completing the eighth grade provide both special and general education. Special attention is given to production studies (600 to 700 hours in the curriculum), through which students become qualified skilled workers in their specialty, and to production work and training in the students’ specialties. As in higher technical educational institutions, the system of course projects and the defense of a diploma project at the completion of study has been adopted in secondary technical educational institutions.

In order to permit students to obtain a technical education without leaving work, correspondence and evening higher technical educational institutions and technicums have been founded, as well as correspondence and evening divisions and departments at regular specialized higher and secondary educational institutions. The courses of study in evening and correspondence systems of technical education last six to 12 months longer than those in the same specialties of the day divisions. Many higher technical educational institutions have general engineering departments with one- to three-year courses of study, which provide students with a general engineering and general science education enabling them to continue technical education in their chosen specialties.

The systematic raising of the level of scientific training is achieved through student participation in the scientific research work of departments of higher educational institutions and in research and laboratory work, as well as through work on course and diploma projects. Special laboratories and computer centers have been organized to raise the level of scientific research in higher technical educational institutions; scientific research institutes have also been organized at some higher technical educational institutions. The Moscow Physical Engineering Institute, the Moscow Physicotechnical Institute, and many engineering and mathematics departments in higher technical educational institutions have been established in order to provide future engineers with the fundamentals of the engineering sciences and with extensive backgrounds in mathematics, physics, and economics. Researchers and teachers in engineering disciplines are primarily trained by means of graduate courses in higher technical educational institutions and research institutes.

With the rapid expansion of knowledge brought about by the scientific and technological revolution, a system of advanced training and the retraining of managerial engineering and technical personnel is also included in technical education. Specialists with secondary and higher educations study the newest advances in science and technology, means of integrated mechanization and automation of production processes, and efficient methods for the scientific organization of production, labor, and management. Such studies are conducted at institutes for improving the skills of managerial personnel and specialists and in courses offered at enterprises, organizations, and educational institutions. Departments for improving the skills of specialists with higher education have been established in higher educational institutions. In a number of institutes, for example, the Urals Polytechnic Institute and the Moscow Institute of Management, departments have been organized for the training of managerial personnel for industry and construction. Special departments for the retraining of engineers in new and promising trends in science and technology have been established at Moscow State University, the Moscow Institute of Aviation, the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, the Moscow Physical Engineering Institute, the N. E. Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School, the Leningrad Institute of Technology, and the University of Novosibirsk.

Technical education has also achieved significant successes in other socialist countries. The number of students obtaining such education is increasing steadily, and in several countries, for example, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Bulgaria, it accounts for up to 40–50 percent of the total number of students. The systems of technical education meet the requirements of the national economy and the special national characteristics of these countries. In several countries, for example, in Poland, Hungary, and Rumania, two types of engineers are prepared: professional engineers with four years of training, and master engineers with four to five years of training. Professional engineers are trained mainly for practical work, while master engineers are trained for scientific research and design organizations. Technical education in Bulgaria is similar in structure to technical education in the USSR.

The largest technical education centers in the socialist countries are the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute, the Poznań Polytechnic Institute, and the Kraków Mining and Metallurgical Academy in Poland; Dresden Technical University, Magdeburg Technical University, and the Freiberg Mining Academy in the German Democratic Republic; the Prague Polytechnic Institute, the Kosice Higher Technical School, and the Higher School of Mining and Metallurgy in Ostrava in Czechoslovakia; the Budapest Polytechnic Institute in Hungary; the Sofia Polytechnic Institute in Bulgaria; and the Belgrade Polytechnic Institute in Yugoslavia.

In the capitalist countries, higher technical education is offered in universities and in specialized technical educational institutions. The fundamentals of technical education are taught in colleges and in secondary technical educational institutions. In many countries, a specialist is awarded the degree of engineer, which does not convey the right to work as an engineer, that is, to design a project. Broad rights are awarded only after the specialist is granted an engineering qualification by the corresponding engineering society. This qualification is granted after the applicant has acquired several years of practical experience and has passed special examinations.

Higher technical education in the USA is usually acquired in two or three stages. The first stage requires four years of training and encompasses the study of general science and specialized technical disciplines leading to the granting of the bachelor’s degree to the graduate of an engineering department. The second stage requires approximately one year and is designed chiefly to raise the level of theoretical knowledge in the chosen specialty and to develop skills in conducting independent scientific research; the stage is completed when the student passes examinations or defends a master’s thesis. An academic degree of engineer has been introduced, for example, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; it is awarded students holding a bachelor’s degree after the students have completed an additional course of study up to two years in length. Students receiving the master’s degree often begin work in scientific research and design organizations. The third stage of technical education is organized in large companies directly in the plant for those holding bachelor’s or master’s degrees. In this stage, which may last up to one year, the participants study engineering, the organization and management of production, and the specific features of the production of the company and individual plant where they work. A system of special schools and institutes now being developed is designed to improve the qualifications of specialists and to offer continuing education to technical personnel.

In many technical colleges and institutes in Great Britain, the course of study lasts four or five years, alternating every three to six months between classroom studies and practical work in industry. In France engineering and technical personnel are usually trained in universities and special institutes (higher schools of mining, bridges and roads, and aviation). The course of study may last four to six years and usually consists of three cycles. In the second cycle, the student takes examinations for the degree of licentiate and may receive the title of engineer. Upon completion of the third cycle, the degree of doctor of the third cycle is granted. The title of engineer allows the student to become a candidate for the title of doctor-engineer. In Japan technical education is offered in institutes and specialized technical institutes and usually lasts four years. On completion of the course, graduates receive the bachelor’s degree and may receive the degree of master of science after an additional one or two years of study.

The most important technical educational centers in the capitalist countries are as follows: USA—the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge), the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Pittsburgh), technical institutes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., and the engineering departments and colleges of Harvard University, Columbia University, Stanford University, and the Universities of California and Illinois; Great Britain—the engineering departments and colleges of Cambridge University and the Universities of Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, and Sheffield; Federal Republic of Germany— the faculty of mining and mechanical engineering at the Clausthal Technical University and higher technical schools in Aachen, Hamburg, and Cologne; and France—higher technical schools and technical institutes in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Strasbourg and metallurgical institutes in Paris and St. Etienne.

In the developing countries, technical education is offered at technological institutes in Bombay, Kharagpur, Kanpur, and Madras, the Bengal Engineering College, and engineering colleges in Poona and Varanasi in India; the Institute of Technology in Rangoon and the Mandalay Technical Institute in Burma; the University of Cairo, the University of Alexandria, and the al-Tabbin Metallurgical Institute in the Arab Republic of Egypt; and the National Polytechnic School and the Annaba Mining and Metallurgical Institute in Algeria.

Reforms of technical education, primarily aimed at improving the quality of education, are being carried out in many countries to meet the demands of scientific and technological progress.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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