Having achieved victory over Napoleonic France, the Russian Empire headed by the Emperor Alexander I became the most powerful state in the world. Russia's military triumph was cemented by diplomatic successes at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, which established a new order in Europe. In the following years, the Russian people reaped the fruits of their success: the “golden age” of Russian literature began, outstanding architectural ensembles were constructed, and canals and roads were built all over the country. Russian sailors explored distant islands, even discovering Antarctica. An industrial revolution also began around this time. By 1825, there were over five thousand factories and manufacturing facilities with 200,000 staff, not counting workers employed in the mining industry. Industrial development intensified during the reign of the Emperor Nicholas I who was himself a trained engineer.
During the reign of Nicholas I, Russian industry was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance, which was headed by the outstanding statesman Count Egor Frantsevich Kankrin from 1823 to 1844. At the time, the mining industry was of paramount importance for Russia, and specialists in this field were trained by the Mining Institute that had operated in Saint Petersburg since 1773. Other educational facilities included the Practical Forestry Institute (1810) and the Institute of the Corps of Railway Engineers (1810). Despite the fact that the textile industry was only second in importance after mining, Russia did not train its own textile specialists and instead used foreigners to supervise work at state enterprises. The situation was no better in other industrial areas.
By 1820, there were six universities in the Russian Empire located in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Dorpat, Vilnius, Kazan, and Kharkiv. However, they only trained students in medical, political, philological, and mathematical physics departments that focused on theoretical rather than practical education. Russian universities of that era were not tasked with training specialists for the needs of industry.
E. F. Kankrin set out to solve the problem by opening an educational institution in Moscow, then widely considered the center of Russian industry, where open lectures on technical disciplines would be given. The project failed, however, due to the disinterest of Moscow industrialists.
It was then decided to create an institute, which was a familiar form of educational institution in Russia. Institutes at that time were called “closed educational institutions”, which meant that students who studied and lived in them permanently had to observe strict internal discipline.
In 1828, E. F. Kankrin designed the project of the Saint Petersburg Practical Institute of Technology (SPPIT). The regulations on its structure and staff were approved by Emperor Nicholas I on November 28, 1828. From this date, the modern Institute of Technology traces its history.
A plot of the existing Jägermeister department building was allocated for the Institute at the junction of Tsarskoye Selo (now Moskovsky) and Zagorodny Avenues, not far from the building of the Institute of the Corps of Railway Engineers built in 1823. Three other plots acquired by the treasury from private individuals were adjoined and together formed a single complex with an area of 3.18 hectares.
For the construction of the buildings of the Institute of Technology, a construction commission was created consisting of Ministry of Finance officials and an architect of the Mining Corps by the name of A. I. Postnikov. He had experience in constructing buildings for educational institutions. Postnikov intended to construct the main building facing Tsarskoye Selo Avenue and to arrange a garden at the junction of the avenues. However, Emperor Nicholas I personally intervened in the matter and ordered that a new city square be built at the corner of Tsarskoye Selo and Zagorodny. The main entrance of the Institute would face this new square. The emperor also proposed installing a water fountain in front of the entrance.
Construction began in the spring of 1829. Minister of Finance E. F. Kankrin visited the construction site regularly, so the work was carried out vigorously. The progress was not hindered even by the sudden death of A. I. Postnikov in 1830. He was replaced by the architect E. H. Ahnert who is known for the construction of public buildings in Kronstadt.
By the beginning of 1830, all the stone buildings were completed. In January 1831, scaffolding was removed from most of the buildings followed by finishing of the interior and installing equipment in the premises. By the end of 1831, most of the work was complete. The act of acceptance of the facilities of the Institute by the government commission was signed on August 29, 1832, but the official opening of the SPPIT took place on October 11, 1831. On this day, classes for students began. Workshops were gradually put into operation until 1833.
132 students were supposed to be enrolled during the first intake, but only 52 were actually accepted.
Administratively, the Institute was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance. The management of internal regulations and studies was entrusted to the director who was appointed by the Minister of Finance. The economic part was entrusted to the Economic Committee consisting of the director, the inspector of classes, one professor, and one teacher.
The first principal of the Institute of Technology was a member of the Exchange Construction Commission, Ivan Mikhailovich Evreinov (1781-1838), and the inspector of classes was a chemist and an associate of the Academy of Sciences Herman Ivanovich Hess (1802-1850).
In the first half of the 19th century, Russian institutes were not institutions of higher education – and “Technolozhka” was no exception. Although SPPIT belonged to second-order educational institutions, which meant that it formally corresponded to the level of county schools, theoretical courses were taught at a high gymnasium or even university level.
According to the regulations of 1828, the Institute of Technology taught the law of God, penmanship, Russian language, geography and history, natural science, drawing and sketching, arithmetic, algebra and geometry, mechanics, physics, chemistry, and technology.
The Department of Inorganic Chemistry traces its history back to 1828. It was first organized and then headed by a mining engineer P. I. Evreinov from 1828 to 1838.
The curricula of the department were compiled by an outstanding scientist and Associate of the Academy of Sciences, G. I. Hess. The educational modules of the department included not only general and inorganic chemistry, but also analytical and organic chemistry, as well as disciplines that would later be taught in newly organized specialist departments.
By 1849, the department was headed by Professor F. S. Ilish. During his time chemistry was read at a higher scientific level and lectures involving demonstration experiments were given in a chemical laboratory.
From 1863 to 1866, the department was headed by the outstanding Russian scientist D. I. Mendeleev.
Over time, the Department of General Chemistry would split into other departments such as the Department of Organic Chemistry, the Department of Physical Chemistry, and the Departments of Analytical and Colloidal Chemistry.
Today, research in the department is conducted in the following areas: directed synthesis of coordination compounds of transition metals, study of the structure, reactivity, and conditions for the formation of supramolecular and supramolecular multifunctional systems based on them, creation of a new generation of catalysts consisting of nanoscale palladium deposited on nanoporous materials, as well as synthesis, structure, and reactivity of bimetallic complexes of platinum metals with tin (II) and germanium (II) compounds.
Over the past 35 years the department has trained more than 150 Candidates and 5 Doctors of Chemical Sciences. Currently, the duties of the head of the department are performed by Candidate of Chemical Sciences Associate Professor V. I. Bashmakov.
- Chemistry of functional materials
- Chemistry of inorganic materials
- Crystal and real structure of a solid body
- Elements of statistical physics
- Fundamental principles of the synthesis of inorganic substances
- Methods of investigating inorganic compounds
- Models of solid-phase transformations
- Modern inorganic chemistry
- Solid-state physics
Count Kankrin took an interest in the Institute and visited it several times a week to delve into its course of affairs and promptly solve any emerging problems. For example, the first books for the Institute library, which opened in 1831, were transferred by his personal order from the technical library of the Department of Manufactures and Trade. Some of them have been preserved to the present day. In the following years, the library was systematically replenished with the latest literature.
According to the author of the first history of “Technolozhka”, Egor Frantsevich "followed his every step with tireless attention, praised every success and immediately corrected the slightest deviation from the path that was supposed to lead to the intended goal." Thanks to the diligence of the Minister, SPPIT regularly received gifts from industrialists. For example, the manufacturer Shubut presented a machine for piling cloth, and the Doctor of Mining Affairs Gassart donated an herbarium consisting of 7 thousand plant species.
E. F. Kankrin set the task for SPPIT to systematically train and prepare practitioners for Russian industry. The Institute was created as an educational institution focused primarily on the development of applied skills in students, so Kankrin paid extra attention to supplying it with the most modern equipment. Apart from the already active carpentry, turning, blacksmithing, and foundry workshops operating since 1831, locksmiths, weaving and engraving (for making fabric patterns), berdochnaya (for forming a pattern of weaving fabric), model (for making models of mills and agricultural implements), and cloth workshops were added in 1832. Next, dyeing, linen and paper spinning, as well as silk and lithographic workshops were installed in 1833. Workshops were equipped with machines, some of which were bought in Great Britain and others were purchased from the Alexander Factory.
Gradually, the structure of the Institute of Technology was supplemented with new educational directions. In 1834, a mining school was opened to train craftsmen for mining plants. In 1839, the medallion school, which had previously been a part of the Mint, became part of the Institute. By 1841, specialists for the Mykolaiv railways then under construction were also trained at the Mining School.
According to the statute, the Institute enrolled boys aged 13-15 who were fluent in Russian and designated for study by the City Duma. These were the children of middle-class merchants and craftsmen who represented the lower strata of the urban population. For them, the training was free.
Since 1832, the Institute began to enroll students in excess of the quota with any social class background for a fee. At graduation, they had the same rights as the privileged students.
Many students enrolled in the Institute at the age of 13 with minimal education. To raise their level of training, a separate preparatory class was created. The main course was divided into two classes, in each of which students studied for three years. At the end of the course, students received the title of Apprentices and either continued studying at the Institute for two more years or went on to work for enterprises. After eight years, the most successful graduates received the title of Learned Masters, others became Masters.
Students were engaged in theoretical subjects from 7 to 11 am, drawing and sketching from 11 to 1 pm, and practiced in workshops from 2 to 6 pm. Most of the teachers were visiting staff. In the workshops, training was carried out by masters of the highest qualification, mostly foreigners who were examined by the technical committee before being hired.
The idea of public lectures, which had failed in Moscow, was implemented at the Institute of Technology. Since 1836 public lectures on chemistry, physics, technology, and applied mechanics were given on its premises. The lectures were open to the public. According to Kankrin's plan, "lectures do not need to be complete at all but should teach the main rules in order to encourage people to educate themselves." Public lectures ceased in 1841.
The task of the Institute of Technology was to train specialists to manage factories or their separate departments. Kankrin hoped that graduates would be employed at private enterprises, so they were banned from entering the civil service. The first 14 students graduated in 1837. Nine of them were awarded the title of learned master, four graduated with the title of master, and one (future writer K. M. Kandinsky) graduated without being awarded any title.15 students graduated in 1838, 22 in 1839 and 1840, 14 in 1841, 20 in 1842, 22 in 1843, and 19 in 1844.
Standing out among the graduates of those years were the future founders of a chemical plant in St. Petersburg, the Zhdanov brothers, as well as the Pechatkin brothers who headed the Krasnoselsky and Ropshinsky stationery factories.
In 1844, the founder of the Institute of Technology E. F. Kankrin resigned from the post of the Minister of Finance. F. P. Vronchenko (1779-1852), who succeeded him, paid special attention to the development of industry. In the first years of his leadership of the Ministry, numerous changes took place at SPPIT: classes would now start at 8 am and class duration was reduced from 2 to 1.5 hours. Weaving workshops were abolished and practical training in this specialty was conducted in factories instead. In 1847, SPPIT began to train specialists for distilleries; therefore, a distillery apparatus was installed on the premises of the closed weaving workshop.
In 1852, SPPIT was headed by a mining engineer, K. F. Butenev, during whose tenure intensive construction was carried out (by architect F. F. Beckman).
Starting in 1849, graduates of SPPIT were awarded the titles of Technology Engineers (instead of “Learned Masters”) and Technology Trainees (instead of “Masters”). After six years of successful work in their specialization, technology trainees received the right to apply for the title of technology engineers.
Many distinguished scientists graduated from the Institute of Technology in the 1850s: engineer and writer F. I. Tokmakov (1825-1895), architect N. M. Chagin (1823-1909), founder of the famous machine-building plant in Riga P. Rosenkrantz (d. 1897), founder of the first printing ink factory in Russia and the Society of Mutual Remembrance of Process Engineers I. I. Beggrov (1828-1888), the only Russian citizen in the Board of the Nobel Brothers Partnership and the compiler of its charter M. Ya. Belyamin (1831-1908), a well-known specialist in patent law F. F. Kaupe, professor at the Moscow Technical School (the predecessor of the famous "Baumanka") and vice-president (acting as head) of the Polytechnic Society F. M. Dmitriev (1829-1882), engineer F. I. Donat (d. 1918), inventor in the field of shipbuilding K. P. Tsyganov (1831-1891), and the founder of scientific metallography D. K. Chernov (1839-1921) who contributed greatly to the development of the Kiev municipal economy.
The following scientists graduated from the SPPIT: the director of the Samsonievsky Plant I. E. Golubev, a well-known specialist in the field of distillery S. A. Pakhomov, the Mayor of Zlatoust V. K. Gudkov, the gold industrialist K. M. Polezhaev (d. 1909) after whom a park in the Krasnoselsky district of St. Petersburg is named, the founder of the machine-building plant in Kiev F. Termen (1835-1909), the director of the Krenholm Manufactories, the Mayor of Narva and founder of the Ust-Narva resort A. F. Gan (1832-1914), inventor N. V. Cherikovsky (1836-1900), sugar grower I. I. Sibiryakov, Honored Professor of the Institute of Technology N. F. Labzin (1837-1926), manager of the Upper Iset Mining District A. I. Roger (d. 1896), senior mechanic of the Obukhov Plant P. G. Kireev, chief designer of the Sormovsky Shipbuilding Plant A. G. Nekrasov (1836-1907), and M. P. Sazhin (1845-1936) who was a leader of the revolutionary movement.
By the beginning of the Great Reforms (1861-1874), Saint Petersburg Institute of Technology had firmly established itself in the Russian educational system. However, the coming era of capitalism demanded that the structure of the Institute be brought in line with the times.