With respect to the Engineering Sciences, priority fields include cyber-physical systems and the “Internet of things”. This is due to the fact that this field is pivotal for the digital transformation of the economy occurring around the world today. This process will take place for at least 10 to 20 years, while the volume of the global market of such solutions will amount to hundreds of billion dollars. At present, the “Internet of things” and cyber-physical systems are going through an active phase of evolving into individual sectors of industry. Nevertheless, there still is a number of unresolved technological issues, which co-exist with a low level of standardization. The development of this field is, in fact, one of the responses to some of the most critical challenges, as specified in the “Strategy of Scientific and Technological Development of the Russian Federation”, approved as per Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 642, dated December 1, 2016.
HSE University demonstrates major potential for development in this field. Substantial engineering and research skills are in place at HSE MIEM. In addition, other subdivisions have accumulated both sector-specific competencies, which are required for applied developments and complementary scientific know-how. This guarantees that the research and technological competencies concentrated at HSE University will help it reach top positions not only for training future professionals, but also in R&D fields, as well as set the stage for cross-disciplinary research on the socio-economic effects of digital transformation. A move from a focus on narrow subject fields to the development of ready-made industry solutions will help HSE University gain a foothold on the market for technological research and developments as a key player, while the integration with its educational processes and the involvement of students in real-life project work will boost the quality and salability of the engineering degree awarded by the University. At the same time, this will allow to form a foundation for opening multi-disciplinary Master’s programmes and CPD courses, which will be tailored for sector-specific job markets.
Research Focuses to Be Intensified
At present, HSE University possesses certain skill sets related to most fields cited in the creation of cyber-physical systems. This, in turn, allows the University to carry out significant R&D work integrated with related educational processes, as well as engage in top-level applied research into the following areas:
- algorithms for managing cyber-physical systems;
- wireless technologies and communication systems;
- information security, including post-quantum technologies for protecting information;
- applied methods for Big Data analysis and the use of AI in cyber-physical systems;
- software engineering;
- fabless-design for micro-electronics.
HSE University may take the lead in the following fields:
- wireless technologies and communication systems. The Telecommunication Systems Laboratory and the Laboratory for the Internet of Things and Cyber-physical Systems, which have been launched recently, boast world-class competencies in 5G systems and may be considered as the centres for creating next-generation, 6G systems. In 2019, the University signed several agreements with major Russian and international companies (e.g., Cisco, Samsung, Huawei, Rostelecom and others), thereby paving the way for developing a technological base for this field of engineering;
- quantum hardware components and photonics. The Laboratory for Quantum Technologies has been set up in order to boost research activities in the field of quantum detectors and photonics, considered as one of the upcoming priorities. HSE University may become one of the key players in the creation of quantum hardware components for national manufacturers of electronics. This will, on one side, ensure advanced scientific developments, publications in leading journals and the receipt of new research grants, and, on the other hand – the University will attain dominant positions on the emerging market for nanotechnologies and integral radiophotonics, both in Russia and around the world, with a view to setting up new high-tech start-ups and spin-off companies. Independent manufacturing of nanostructures will attract new partners to engage in basic research and selling ready-made devices alike, as well as for the shared use of procured technology and experimental equipment on a commercial basis;
- security of cyber-physical systems. The traditional field of computer and information security, together with competencies in cryptography and coding acquired over the past years, means that the University can further develop the field of security of cyber-physical systems, e.g., advanced developments in post-quantum cryptography, special solutions for cloud storage protection and safe computing. At present, research activities are successfully underway to create algorithms for “light” cryptography, which are tailored for ultra low-power devices with limited computational capabilities. It is also crucial for this field’s development to maintain contacts with psychologists with respect to assessing the potential for human error for security systems;
- simulation of radioelectronic equipment. This is a well-established area of research at HSE MIEM. Today, several agreements are in place to support its development, in cooperation with such enterprises as Mikron, Milandr, and certain RAS Institutes. In the future, it may be possible to develop a government programme on simulation of radio-electronic equipment aimed to evaluate reliability and performance against various types of disturbances and operational conditions. At present, the field has widened, thanks to its merging with digital synthesis, i.e., fabless-design of micro-electronics.
In addition to the specified sub-fields, covering comprehensively end-to-end technologies for cyber-physical systems, certain niche sub-fields are also developing under the Engineering Sciences. On one hand, they are fairly closely linked with this major field, and, on the other hand, they represent autonomous sub-fields, which feature certain achievements and potential for their further development and attainment of significant academic and applied results. These include aerospace technologies, e.g., development of technologies for remote Earth sounding and geospatial data processing, as well as supercomputer simulations of physical processes, new materials, and engineering systems.
Plans are in place that, as the field progresses, the following products will be commercialized (both independently and in cooperation with industry partners):
- IP blocks of special computing devices;
- algorithms for building 6G telecommunication networks;
- algorithms for light cryptography and libraries developed by referring to them;
- bespoke R&D projects;
- sector-specific technological solutions, including solutions for “smart” infrastructures and medical technologies;
- applied solutions in integral quantum optics and nanophotonics;
- development of computing models with any level of complexity, including the application of supercomputer simulations;
- applied solutions and services in geospatial data processing and monitoring based on remote Earth sounding processes;
- expert and analytical services in technological services for today’s digital economy.
The establishment of the National Centre for Testing Radio-Electronic Systems for the certification of Russia’s industry and global manufacturers is one of the most promising applied areas where these competencies may be effectively utilized. This centre may become a hub for measuring and testing equipment for trials and certification procedures for Russian and foreign radioelectronics.
Contributions to the Development of Education
The aforementioned ambitious goals require a transition to a format, whereby training would combine research and project-based training with the study of cutting-edge technologies and satisfy the needs of today’s technocratic (digital) society. This approach to training highly qualified researchers and developers will be implemented under the auspices of the Master's School of Engineering, which will be established on the basis of a project model for training, as developed at HSE University.
Two complementary educational tracks will be created at the School with an emphasis on either research or project work. Prospective students will be admitted through competitive selections. If a research track is chosen by a student, publications in leading international journals will be required for their successful graduation, or a project completed and accepted by a client – if the student opts for the project track. The most talented alumni of the School will continue their education moving on to the end-to-end training mechanism as per the “Master’s – doctoral school” track in one of the priority areas.
Contacts with top technological firms, including new laboratories and competence centres equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, will make it possible to implement a wide range of specialized educational programmes, including the continuing professional education. These programmes will be focused both on developing practical equipment operating skills and mastering new technological processes and approaches in communication systems and networks, as well as cyber-physical systems and information security. This approach will allow us to respond efficiently to the challenges of scientific and technological development, secure HSE University’s leading role in training experts in engineering and science, as well as tap the market for innovative technological solutions. Furthermore, this position will be consolidated through the publication of a series of monographs and teaching aids in “Technologies of Cyber-physical Systems” based on the current research experience, as well as the delivery of study courses.
Moreover, the programme for fundamental research on engineering will ensure the development of long-term foundations for the design of “Internet of Things” devices and cyber-physical systems, while the creation of industry-specific applications as part of applied research projects will ensure the necessary experience for an overall transition to solutions on this new technological base and in-depth understanding of technological barriers. Altogether, this will help solve import substitution issues, build basic technological competencies for a new generation of experts in Russia, and, at the same time, lay the groundwork for integration into global technological chains.