‘The programme gives students the chance to think outside the box’
Andrés Gómez Mares is the first-year Mexican student of the HSE international Master’s programme ‘Prototyping future cities’. He has a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering of the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico and came to Moscow to get knowledge in smart city development and train his skills in digital fabrication. Andrés has told us about programme’s advantages, favourite courses, his career goals and students’ life in Moscow.
How and why did you decide to apply for the 'Prototyping future cities' programme?
City is the place where life brims over the edge, it is a place of active interaction, roaring trade, developed transport systems and non-stoppable communication. City is a test field for new technologies and practices.
I was looking for a Master’s programme that could give me new ideas and perspectives on urban planning. ‘Prototyping future cities’ is full of new concepts and innovative education methods. It gives you a different way to approach knowledge. The programme focuses on developing new ways to explore and use new technologies. What’s important, it gives students the chance to think outside the box, and to look for alternative perspectives in solving old and new problems. This programme tries to show that urban planning is not just about providing housing or creating public spaces anymore. The world needs a fresh way of looking at cities and the challenge now is to build and maintain a proper interaction between technology, humans and their environment.
Prototyping the future is a complicated task because nothing has been written yet, but this programme really encourages students to set better standards that can define the new era in urban planning. It is definitely for people who are willing to think ahead. The programme is one of a kind and that’s why I can hundred percent recommend it.
How does studying at HSE fit into your professional development and career plans?
I came from a different part of the world and now I have the opportunity to get familiar with new cultures and meet people from all over the world. I have a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. However, nowadays it is not enough just to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and to become a professional you always have to keep learning, updating and shaping your knowledge because of fast-changing world trends.
What courses do you find most interesting and why?
All courses related with social sciences, everyone talks about urban planning in the context of creating new roads and housing, but they forget that urban planning is also design according to population’s needs. Also courses related to the economic sphere are great, as urban design has to consider a solid foundation of budget- and resources-planning. In general, teaching methods of the programme are much different from the ones I got used to. It doesn’t have a strict shape, which gives you an opportunity and freedom to think in several ways.
Could you tell us about the project you have been working on this year?
I have been working in collaboration with my team Irina Kiseleva and Valeriya Cherekaeva on a project called Labrador, a device that is meant to help blind people navigate in the city. Labrador has geo locators, voice inputs and outputs.
The aim of the project is to understand how we can improve cities to make them more inclusive for disabled people. Cities of the future should be for everyone, and here is where the biggest challenge comes, you have to use all your actual skills to find solutions to unfamiliar problems and in the process you acquire new ones. In smart city there are no people who are excluded from the society. Our goal was to make disabled people feel comfortable in the city environment.
Is this your first stay in Russia? How is it different from your expectations (if it is different)? What has been most unexpected?
This was my second time in Russia, the first time I was here as a tourist. So far, my experience with Russian culture has been amazing, the more I get to know it the more similarities I find with my native culture. As well as Mexicans, Russians build close connections between each other. Moscow looks futuristic and everything has an order here. The most outstanding thing for me was the Moscow metro. It is efficient and you can get to any place in the city by metro. I was surprised that there are convenience stores that work 24 hours. It makes me think that Moscow is a city that doesn’t sleep. I have managed to visit some cities here in Russia, there are a lot of places to explore.
What advice can you give to international applicants who consider studying in Russia?
My advice is to come with an open mind, willing to learn, interact with different people and explore fascinating Russian culture.