Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the Institute of Non-Destructive Testing at Tomsk Polytechnic University during а trip to Tomsk Region


During his tour of the institute, which specializes in research for the development of systems for various kinds of diagnostics, the prime minster spoke to undergraduate and postgraduate students and examined the university's most promising projects.

He was especially interested in a piece of equipment for screening bulky cargo. At the core of unit there is a small particle accelerator, which, according to the development team, can determine the chemical composition of an object without touching it.

"You know better than I do that there is nothing like this either in Russia or abroad," Putin noted. "We must support this project, because this unit will be in great demand." He asked the developers how long it would take to build a pilot product. "Research usually takes a year, with another year for testing and another to build the product," a member of the laboratory staff said.

"Three years is too long. It would be good if you could produce it in one and half," Putin said. The institute's director, Vasily Klimyonov, assured him that work could be accelerated if more employees join the project.

German Professor Hans-Michael Kroening, head of the International Research and Education Laboratory for Non-destructive Testing, who accompanied the prime minister, admitted that Russian students are the most interesting to work with. Both Putin and Kroening spoke German. "I have taught many students in different countries, including Russia, China, Germany and others," Kroening said. "But Russians are the most creative. They always generate interesting ideas and are constantly inventing things."

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Vladimir Putin speaks with German Professor Hans-Michael Kroening, head of the International Research and Education Laboratory of Non-Destructive Testing (translated from German)

Vladimir Putin: So both the undergraduate and graduate students of the Tomsk Polytechnic University participate in your project?

Hans-Michael Kroening: Yes. Our work here is quite fascinating. By the way, and I would like to compliment the Ministry of Education and Science on promoting really remarkable ideas as part of the modernisation agenda.  

As for me, I am here for two reasons. The first is that although Russia has many wonderful teachers and professors who, for instance, understand mathematics even better than I do, the results of research and development are not applied in industrial production. Perhaps this problem should be termed as the economic significance of science, as distinct from just a high scientific level. To resolve this problem it is necessary to create networks that foster constructive interactions between science and industry.

Second, of course, one must do his best not to miss the train of modern science, but to take its seat in it…

Vladimir Putin: Are you satisfied with the local students?

Hans-Michael Kroening: In a word, yes. To give a more extensive answer, I can say that the quality of fundamental education in Russia is very good. I have many students from India, China, and also from Russia. And my general assessment is that Russian students are the most creative of them. I do not know why but it is so. I saw it repeatedly: Russian students always come up with wonderful ideas. But there is a problem of discipline…  

Vladimir Putin: But all students have this problem.

Hans-Michael Kroening: Not always. For example, Chinese students are incredibly disciplined. They are extremely hard-working. All they do is study, study, study.  Whatever foolishness I tell them – sometimes professors can also make mistakes – they follow my instructions. Meanwhile Russian students are very creative, they are constantly coming up with something. You can see for yourself now. In the next laboratory you will see the equipment we have imported, and my Russian students in Germany have assembled it. There on that foundation it is already possible to create businesses.

Vladimir Putin: That’s very interesting.

Hans-Michael Kroening: So the creativity here is truly amazing…

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