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MIEM HSE Training Specialists in Internet of Things and Cyber-physical Systems

The world is on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution- production will be entirely digital. With cheap wireless communication, the Internet of Things is rapidly developing - a set of physical objects which interact as part of a global network. It will soon amount to tens of billions. From 2018, the MIEM HSE Master's programme, ‘Internet of Things and Cyber-physical Systems’ will train specialists capable of developing and managing such systems.

What is the Programme About?

The term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) was coined in 1999 by British entrepreneur, Kevin Ashton, to describe a world in which a person ceases to be the only ‘input device’ for information disseminated via the Internet and relinquishes this role to electronics. The word ‘thing’ refers to any physical object of the real world, be it a chair, table or person.

The second term in the title of the master's programme, ‘cyber-physical systems’, is a more general concept, and refers not only to the Internet of Things, but also big data, cloud computing and cybersecurity.

The components of the Internet of Things certainly existed before, however there was not the rapidly growing set of innovative technologies that there is today, according to Leonid Voskov, Master’s programme academic supervisor and professor, School of Computer Engineering at MIEM HSE. This is what has led to the interest in the Internet of Things in industry and the extensive media coverage on the topic. New technologies are facilitating change in business processes in organizations, and structures such as the ‘smart city’, ‘smart home’ and even, ‘smart vegetable patch’ may soon become part of our daily reality. In Russia, steps are already being taken to promote the Internet of Things and technical standards (Russian: ГОСТы) are being developed for various IoT components- that is, the technical requirements for a smart home, for example.

Closer to Practice

HSE’s master's programme dedicated to the Internet of Things is the brainchild of Professor Voskov. The idea came to him about two years ago. He had analyzed the master's programmes offered by European universities, focusing both on the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems, and realized that some were purely theoretical, examining the scientific fundamentals of IoT, some focused on the needs of companies operating in this field, and some were a combination of the two. ‘My colleagues and I decided that our programme would be both comprehensive and applied,’ recalls Professor Voskvov, ‘and we began our search for partners in the business world.’

Five companies have since become MIEM’s partners and have assisted in the development of the master's programme, and this number is set to grow. Partners include IBM, National Instruments (world leader in hardware and software for testing, measurement and control systems), the InfoWatch group of companies (integrated information security solutions), Rightech (a young, fast-growing Russian company which is developing a unique cloud platform for the Internet of Things) and PTC (experts in the industry aspects of the Internet of Things).

Each of these companies runs its own training center, and all are authorized to issue recognized accreditations to training participants. National Instruments has opened its research and educational centre as part of MIEM. The programme will be taught both by members of the academic community and representatives from these companies. Furthermore, in addition to the master's degree, students will also be able to obtain professional certificates issued by these training centres. International experts will be involved in teaching the programme in the future and the English curriculum is currently being developed.

Leonid Voskov explains that the HSE programme is more challenging than programmes offered abroad. One of the reasons for this is that it integrates not only scientific training equipment but also training equipment used in industry.

What Will the Programme Teach?

Currently, there is a dearth in Russia of well- trained specialists in the field of the Internet of Things. This is because existing training centres in Russia tend to teach only what they specialize in.

The HSE master's programme is unique in that it provides complex training in the field of the Internet of Things, equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work with wireless sensor networks and cloud technologies, to process and analyze big data and to ensure cybersecurity. Particular attention will be paid to the design, analysis, development, rolling out and management of systems and services associated with the Internet of Things, in fields such as ‘smart home’, ‘smart city’ and ‘smart production’.

The curriculum consists of three blocks: engineering in the field of the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems, data analysis and application software, and cybersecurity for the Internet of Things. Obviously, very few bachelor’s graduates will have the necessary theoretical foundations in each one of these fields. Depending on their specialization, they may have to do bridging courses in order to enhance their knowledge in a certain area. For example, a computer engineering specialist may need to initially concentrate on electronics. Introductory courses are provided in order to ensure that applicants begin the Master’s programme at the same level. Eventually, of course, each student will be able to develop and focus on their own personal strengths.

The programme is open to graduates of bachelor's programmes in any field and from any university. There have already been cases of economists applying.

What Now?

The demand for professionals on the market capable of developing and maintaining the corporate and industrial infrastructure of the Internet of Things is continuing to grow. Graduates of HSE’s master's programme will be able to work as engineers, as specialists in the collection, processing and analysis of big data and machine learning, as developers of application software, and as experts in cybersecurity for the Internet of Things.

Leading companies in the implementation of technologies associated with the Internet of Things are suffering from the dearth of employees in this field. This includes government organizations, banks, gas and oil companies, IT integrators, as well as universities, research institutes and analytical centers conducting R&D.

Like all HSE Master’s programmes, the ‘Internet of Things and Cyberphysical Systems’ programme includes a scientific research seminar. Those students who excel in science will have the opportunity to continue their studies following their Master’s. MIEM’s Laboratory of the Internet of Things and Cyber-physical Systems and Internet of Things research group are already operational and give students the opportunity to obtain further funding through grants, orders from industry and the publication of scientific articles.

Natalya Kaspersky, president of InfoWatch

The sheer size of the Internet of Things and the emergence of a large number of technologies that use different protocols, architecture and software have led to a significant increase in information security threats. These cannot be minimized by a unified means, for example, by an antivirus. According to open data alone, hundreds of thousands of devices are used unprotected every day.

According to forecasts by market analysts, the number of IoT devices in the world will have reached 50 billion by 2020. Associated technologies are already being used both in industry and in the development of ‘smart cities’, where security is top priority. InfoWatch has been working in data protection for more than 15 years, provides a unique range of services in security auditing and protection of automated systems of industrial enterprises, and cooperates with organizations in the UAE dealing with the construction of safe ‘smart cities’. There is a significant market demand for graduates of this HSE master's programme.

Ilya Bykonya, General director of IoT company, Rightech

The Internet of Things facilitates radical improvement in business performance in every segment. Its distribution is hindered only by a severe shortage of experts: 95% of IT professionals on the market simply do not know how to work with IoT.

There are even fewer teachers in the field. The MIEM Master's programme ‘Internet of Things and Cyber-physical Systems’ provides not only unique theoretical training, also the practical training necessary to forge a highly successful international research career. Graduates will also be able to participate in the development of a new market. The demand for developers and analysts in the field of IoT over the next 20 years will exceed the supply, which creates a plethora of career opportunities for graduates of the programme.