The educational forum It’s Your Call! is organized at ITMO University for the participants of I Am a Professional, a nationwide academic contest. The students attend lectures on robotics, cybersecurity, and programming by top experts from Sberbank, VK, and Yandex, participate in workshops and career guidance sessions, and take part in interviews with Sberbank staff. They will also get to enjoy an entertainment program and tours of St. Petersburg’s top IT companies. This year, the event has brought together 120 students from 42 universities across 19 regions of Russia: from Lipetsk Oblast to Krasnoyarsk Krai.

“In order for education to be as effective as possible, we must develop processes that account for the industry’s latest demands and maintain a balance between hard and soft skills. With this knowledge and competencies, future specialists will be able to efficiently solve problems through teamwork. All this can be boosted through practical training and exchange of experience with top players on the market – and that’s where the forum comes in handy,” explains Daria Kozlova, the First Vice Rector of ITMO University.

Educational forum It’s Your Call! Credit: Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

Educational forum It’s Your Call! Credit: Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

“Educational events within the I Am a Professional ecosystem have given a path into the world of careers for young people all across Russia. The annual forum It’s Your Call! which ITMO University organizes is a crucial stage in the career of fledgling specialists: not only do they get to try their strength at solving a practical case for Sberbank (a general partner of the forum), but they also can establish connections with their similarly active peers, industry experts, and representatives of Russia’s top universities and businesses,” says Valeria Kasamara, the head of the I Am a Professional contest.

In addition, this year’s educational form will include a case competition: for the duration of 10 hours, 15 teams supervised by mentors will attempt to solve a real-life case from the field of robotics. The task itself has been provided by the staff of Sberbank’s robotics center. At the end of the event, the participants will present their findings and receive expert feedback on their project while making the most of their chance to establish new professional connections.

“Every year, the forum becomes a place where talented and ambitious young people can meet each other; and we at Sberbank make sure that their time here is not just insightful, but highly productive, too. Our experts in robotics, IT, and B2C share their experience with the participants, while our HR staff talk about building a career at Sberbank and how to secure an internship at the company,” tells us Olga Tsukanova, the executive director of Sberbank's Academic Partnerships Directorate.

Educational forum It’s Your Call! Credit: Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

Educational forum It’s Your Call! Credit: Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

The future of robotics

At the event’s opening, Vladimir Takh, the head of entertainment robotics at Sberbank, spoke about the current trends in the field.

A key trend in robotics is artificial intelligence – more specifically, generative AI and algorithms with elements of AI. For instance, manufacturers are now using intuitive interfaces to program robots with the help of natural language. Predictive AI is growing popular, too, and that includes algorithms that can forecast the operational state of equipment.

Another popular branch of development concerns cobots, or collaborative robots, who can perform their tasks alongside humans. The propagation of such systems has become possible because of the development of sensor systems, computer vision, and smart tech. One such example is the use of cobots in welding.

Mobile manipulators are becoming widespread, as well: these are machines that combine the qualities of mobile robotic platforms and conventional manipulators. Such robots can conduct industrial assessments, assess the quality of equipment, and provide maintenance. Often, they are used in logistics, automotive production, and aerospace manufacturing.

Robotic solutions can be tested with the help of digital twins – virtual models of any given object. Such simulations reduce expenses, allow developers to conduct safe stress tests, and predict various possible scenarios.

In Russia, one of the places where robotics is being developed is Sberbank’s Robotics Laboratory. Here, the company is developing robots and other AI-enhanced cyberphysical systems to solve business cases for Sberbank and its clients. Their projects fall into the categories of anthropomorphic robots, robotic logistics, and mobile robots. It was here that developers devised a disinfector robot, a robotic system for total automation of warehouse management, and a robotic sommelier that can showcase and sell wine.

Educational forum It’s Your Call! Credit: Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

Educational forum It’s Your Call! Credit: Dmitry Grigoryev / ITMO.NEWS

AI trends

The latest tendencies in the world of artificial intelligence were covered by Anton Belousov, the head of development at Raft AI Labs. Here are the keynotes:

RAG (Retrival Augmented Generation) is an AI technology used in chatbots to find context for user queries by sourcing information from external sources, resulting in more comprehensive and accurate answers. This technology is used in customer support, in workplace adaptation training, and to assist experienced staff. 

Copilots and assistants. A copilot is a tool that can explain and auto-complete software code. Such technologies can also be used to write texts, provide synchronous translation, write summaries, create and customize educational courses, and design interface elements.

Media-centric AI technologies are developing rapidly, too: dubbing, deepfake masks, and generated music and TV shows. Generative AI models can convert text into images and video – examples include Stable Video Diffusion and OpenAI’s Sora. In addition, AI is used to create personalized advertisements based on user preferences – or to distribute fake content (social media bots, “troll factories,” fake images, and phishing attacks).

View a complete recording of this talk here (link in Russian).