On enrolling at ITMO

How did you choose your university and why did you opt for ITMO? 

I knew I wanted to be a programmer and engineer back in high school. I actually started with making video games, but then I learned about microcontrollers – I saw how they allow a program to interact with physical objects, turn on the light or move servomotors. I grew very interested in these things.

My dad and I created an automated lighting system and air humidifiers at home, as well as alarm clocks that would gradually turn on the light in the morning, and so on. At some point I started taking competitive programming classes at ITMO, that’s how I met the lecturers. I came up to them and told them that I developed a smart home system that is controlled with an app that I wrote myself – I wondered if I could enroll based on this achievement. 

Did you succeed? 

No, there was no ITMO.STARS back then, so I couldn’t enroll that way. But my USE scores were rather good, so I was choosing between St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, and ITMO. My high school offered courses that practically guaranteed enrollment into St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, but when I visited it, I saw it’s old-school atmosphere with wooden walls and chandeliers… Then I remembered that half my classmates were going to study there, so virtually nothing in my life would change if I entered this university. And I wanted to move forward, I wanted to see innovation – so I applied to ITMO. 

It turned out I didn’t have enough points for the program I wanted to get into, but I secured my place in a similar one offered by another faculty. At first I thought I would still try to apply for the desired program, but the deputy dean of the Faculty of Control Systems and Robotics talked me out of it. After all, there was a risk of losing even the place that I already had. 

That’s how I ended up at the Instrumentation Technologies Department, which was lucky, because later I learned that students at the program I first wanted to enroll in had a really hard time buried under their books. My program turned out to be a little easier, so I had more time for self-study and creativity. 

Did you get what you expected to find at ITMO? 

I didn’t have any clear expectations, but I thought I would meet people who would help me grow and move me forward. That was exactly what happened. I actively worked on my English with native speakers, did sports, took part in research activities, received scholarships, and participated in international projects. All of this helped me to advance. 

What about your studies at the program? 

It was a step forward for me as well. I wasn’t an all As student at school, I had a certain reputation that followed me into the later years of high school . However, in the last two years of school something changed for the better and my grades went up. I also got into the smart home project and took a more conscious approach to my life choices. But it was hard for my teachers to see this new person under the bad student label they’d already given me. 

When I got into ITMO, it was a fresh start for me – from the very beginning I was a straight As student. The first years of my Bachelor’s were hard, but not stressful because I took on every task with joy, I was happy to work. Moreover, I was the head student of my group, so I had to resolve any conflicts that arose and had to learn to express the opinion of my group as a whole. In my third year, I learned about the opportunity to do research at university, so I started taking part in various projects, and this is where I find myself now, too.         

On science and inventions

What did you research? 

Currently, I work in industrial automatization – we help the university's industrial partners to implement innovative solutions such as the Internet of Things, AR, and VR. First, we identify the problem they need to solve, then look for solutions, and finally help to implement them. I am now planning to enter a PhD program so that I can continue working on these projects. 

Which PhD program did you choose? 

I opted for the double degree program offered by ITMO University and Aalto University in Finland, where I’ve just spent a year as an exchange student. This PhD program is headed by Prof. Valery Vyatkin, who heads the Aalto Factory of the Future, as well as a similar one at ITMO.

Do you have any plans for after you get your PhD?

I don’t want to look that far ahead, because things can change. Maybe I will start my company and will be offering my services there. Or maybe we’ll have other projects. 

For instance, I have an idea of a system that helps employees keep track of their well-being with a set of sensors. The system will offer recommendations on lowering their stress level and raising productivity, including those cases when robots can do the job, if an employee is exhausted. 

Does ITMO provide opportunities for creativity in the field of research and engineering? 

Compared to the stories I hear from students of other universities, I can say that ITMO offers one of the best conditions for creating your projects in engineering. It all depends on the field you are interested in and on the people. In some fields, we have great ambitious leaders and professors. If you collaborate with them, you can really grow and reach new heights.

Moreover, you have enough free time for that at ITMO. I am now involved in about four projects here and I have one more at Aalto University. Moreover, I run my own company, where, thankfully, I organize everything so that I can keep steadily getting better. 

What kind of a company is it? 

Originally I opened it to sell my own invention, a smart clock that has internet access and displays the time, the weather forecast, currency rate, your number of followers on different social media platforms, etc. I built it myself and at first sold it on Avito and other online stores, but then I saw that I needed to enter the actual market. 

I registered a corporate entity and started selling. Then after a while I headed a project group at ITMO’s OLIMP laboratory, where we worked on improving the product and marketing it. There I found Alexey Artemiev, my current business partner, who is now a PhD student at ITMO. Together we import smart home devices, such as scooter and gaming accessories and then resell them at OZON or Wildberries (popular Russian online marketplaces). 

Growing in every field

What are your hobbies? 

I am a technology enthusiast and I love upgrading everything around me, that’s my main hobby. For instance, our joint smart home efforts with my dad led us to start developing a sleep capsule. It has blackout curtains and an internal ventilation system. It creates a special atmosphere, so that you fall asleep easily and are gently woken up. I got used to it and it’s now uncomfortable for me to sleep in a regular bed.

I also love board games and snowboarding. Sometimes I also take part in the motorsport training sessions of our sports club, we even compete. This club is a brand new one at ITMO, it was opened by a person I know at ITMO. 

You started your own sports club? 

Yes, you have such an opportunity at ITMO, so we chose motorsport. I am a licensed racer, I got my first license six years ago, but here at the club I am a manager, who sometimes takes part in competitions. Right now we are getting ready for the IronRacer tournament.  

Do you do anything else? 

I have also recently joined a sports tourism club, where we canoe on the Neva. That’s very cool! I learned about the club from the Instagram stories of my groupmate and I knew I needed this in my life.

Moreover, I love computer games, which I use as a chance to keep in touch with my friends and hang out together. I don’t have any particular favorite games, but there are some great choices for a get-together. 

Anyway, in order to be happy, you have to grow in many fields, be that work, studies, friendships, sports, or reaching your goals.

How to be a top graduate

Why did you decide to apply for the top graduate contest? 

To be honest, I knew about that contest already when I was graduating with my Bachelor’s degree and I wanted to participate. I had a good portfolio, but it turned out that Bachelor’s students couldn’t take part in the contest. Now they can and I am really happy for those who get to partake this year. Over my years at ITMO, I have seen that first there is a demand for something, such as enrolling based on your achievements or taking part in a contest, and then the university doesn’t hesitate to provide it. That’s why I think the new generation of students is very lucky. 

I saw the contest announced in the final months of my Master’s degree and I didn’t waste any time before applying – I have a great portfolio, I consider myself strong, and I am glad to share my experience. 

At the competition, you had to thank ITMO for something special. What was it for you? 

ITMO gives you all the opportunities you might need to reach your goals, boost your skills, and show your creativity in research, sports, or education. You can meet many like-minded people here. 

As I’ve said, I am a fan of our Foreign Language Training Center, sports clubs, and abundance of student activities. You can go on a tour to Moscow or the Republic of Karelia, or you can go study abroad. You can get involved in research or corporate projects. And all the way you meet wonderful people.

My time as a student had everything that one can wish for in life, no exceptions. That’s the main feature of the university and that’s what I am most grateful for.