The civil war that had been raging throughout the vast expanse of the former Russian Empire began to wane by 1921. The key forces of the White Army were defeated, peace treaties were concluded with the Baltic States, and an armistice was signed with Poland. Resistance to Soviet rule continued in Russia's far east, as well as in Transcaucasia and Central Asia, with remnants of the White Army still active. A wave of anti-Soviet uprisings swept through the country at the beginning of 1921, the most formidable of which was the Kronstadt rebellion. These were the last signs of political insurrection. In 1921, the Soviet government adopted the “New Economic Policy”, which in practice meant transitioning back to a peacetime economy. The Soviet Union, as the country had been referred to from 1922, began to recover from the devastation wrought by years of war. Slowly, small shops began to appear, factories reopened, and foreign trade resumed. The population of Petrograd, which had decreased from 2.5 million in 1917 to 750,000 in 1920, grew to 1 million people by 1922. Life was swiftly returning to normal. However, it was only by 1927 that the Soviet Union regained the level of economic development that Imperial Russia had seen in its last peaceful year of 1913.
In the spring of 1920, living conditions in Petrograd were dire. As a result of the ban on private trade, the former capital experienced a shortage of basic supplies, including food and fuel. Starvation deaths began to surface, affecting mostly elderly citizens. People began to leave the starving city en masse. The population, which reached almost 3 million people in 1917, decreased to 750,000 three years later.
The Institute's staff put tremendous effort into saving the university, but academic life was completely paralyzed under these conditions.
In 1919, during a meeting of senior students at the Institute, it was decided to send a group of envoys to Moscow to demand that students be granted the opportunity to graduate. They succeeded in securing an audience with Vladimir Lenin. Concurrently, the Rector of PIT, Professor D.S. Zernov, decided to reduce the Institute’s graduation requirements.
On March 24, 1920, the Council of People's Commissars decreed the establishment of an early graduation pathway at the Institute by way of a resolution titled “On the urgent release of specialist engineers”. This document outlined plans “to organize intensive classes at the most adapted Higher Technical Educational Institutions during the spring and summer, in order to produce an accelerated graduation of engineers no later than the autumn of 1920”.
Accelerated study programs admitted students “whose education, according to the number of studies they have completed earlier or according to their practical training, can be completed in the current year”.
Students wishing to complete their education were exempt from any type of public service, including military service. In terms of financial aid, students and teachers involved in “intensive studies” were equated with military school cadets. At the same time, students were declared “mobilized in the order of labor service, obliging them to work without absences and establishing careful control over the classes”.
PIT was one of the two universities where classes resumed in the spring of 1920. A commission headed by Rector D.S. Zernov provided instructions for applying the decree to the realities of the Institute and prepared lists of eligible students. All this heralded the revival of education, not only at the Petrograd Institute of Technology but also in other technical universities in the country.
It was assumed that the practice of early release would allow students to graduate from the Institute within six months. Teachers and students, however, were both reluctant to participate in accelerated programs. As a consequence, while studies would typically last longer than the decree stipulated, studying at a consistent pace allowed students to acquire a higher quality education. Thirty students graduated from PIT in 1920.
First-year students were admitted for the 1920/21 academic year. Despite ongoing issues with basic necessities such as heating, the Institute resumed full-time operations.
PIT personnel and graduates were involved in Russia's electrification program, known as the GOELRO plan. The project was overseen by G.M. Krzyzanowski. Professor A.A. Voronov and PIT alumni R.E. Klasson, F.V. Lengnik, and V.V. Starkov were other notable individuals.
On January 1, 1921, the student body at the Institute counted 1316 individuals, 888 of whom were first-year students and 327 of whom were urgent release students.
In June 1921, Rector D.S. Zernov and Secretary of the Institute Council A.E. Poray-Koshits presented a report on the financial situation of technical universities at a conference in Moscow. Subsequently, the draft of the “Regulations on Universities” was approved and signed by V.I. Lenin on September 19, 1921.
According to the newly adopted regulations, universities were to be governed by a board, and faculties were to be governed by a council headed by the dean. Different categories of professors, teachers, and research fellows were introduced. Tuition fees were abolished.
In 1921, a graduation ceremony was held. Among the graduates that year were the distinguished G.F. Knorre, who headed the Department of Boiler Installations at the Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School, and a Vneshtorg employee, M.V. Kollontai.
The Institute created a workers' faculty named the “Rabfak” in the autumn of 1921. Rabfak's goal was to raise the number of students with proletarian background, and thus help establish a new scientific-technical intelligentsia free of ties to the overthrown pre-Soviet elite. This is especially significant given that “conservative forces” dominated the PIT student government in 1921. However, candidates endorsed by the Communists were elected to the Petrograd Soviet in the fall of the same year.
At the outset, the Workers’ Faculty was authorized to make use of the equipment and premises of the Institute. After a while, Rabfak was integrated into the Smolninsky Department and left the premises of the Institute.
After its first year of operation, many graduates of the Workers’ Faculty became PIT students. The share of Rabfak graduates continuing their studies at Technolozhka increased with each passing year.
In 1923, the Rabfak moved to the main building of the Institute of Technology. By that time, several hundred students had already graduated from the Institute's Rabfak and were pursuing graduate studies at PIT. By 1924, Rabfak allowed the Soviet government to attain the objective of “turning the Institute into a pillar of Soviet power” by “neutralizing” the authority of professors and “destroying White students as an organized mass”.
The Institute was renamed the Petrograd Council of Workers', Peasants', and Red Army Deputies in 1923 since its predecessor, the Saint Petersburg Council of 1905, was founded within its walls.
The Department was founded in 1920 by Professor P.P. Fedotyev. It was the first and only Department of electrochemistry in the country. It was intended to educate electrochemistry specialists with a broad range of skills, capable of working in the four key areas of applied electrochemistry: electrolysis without separation of metals, hydroelectrometallurgy, electrolysis of molten salts, and chemical current sources. Recently, the Department has been conducting research in the field of the theory and technology of electrodeposition of metals and alloys with certain functional properties: electrodeposition of metals with ultrafine diamonds and various organic and inorganic compounds, aluminum coating technology, processes of applying precious metals to printed circuit boards, and reed switches. Investigations are being made into the physicochemical properties and corrosion resistance of electroplating coatings. In addition, studies are conducted in the fields of traditional, water-activated, and lithium current sources, as well as the development of new electrochemical systems. The Department organizes the biannual international scientific and practical conference “Theory and practice of modern electrochemical production”. Currently, the department is headed by Candidate of Technical Sciences, Associate Professor D.V. Agafonov.
- Chemical sources of electric current
- Corrosion and protection of metals
- Ecology in electrochemical technology
- Electrochemical methods of anticorrosive protection
- Equipment and design of electrochemical industries
- Functional electroplating
- Fundamentals of electrochemical technology
- Kinetics of electrochemical processes
- Materials in electrochemistry
- Methods of electrochemical research
- Printed circuit board technology
- Theoretical electrochemistry
- Theoretical foundations of applied electrochemistry
Vladimir Lenin passed away on January 24, 1924. Two days later, by the decision of the II Congress of Soviets of the USSR, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honor. Two months were allotted for the replacement of seals and signs, during which the names of enterprises and institutions had to be adjusted.
The Institute's official name was changed to the Leningrad Institute of Technology in honor of the Leningrad Council of Workers, Peasants, and Red Army Deputies. The shortened name of Lensovet Leningrad Institute of Technology (LLIT) was typically used.
The academic year 1924/1925 marked a turning point in education. Economic difficulties became a thing of the past. In September 1924, as many as 2,218 students studied at the university.
In 1925, the board of the Institute established the Scientific and Technical Bureau, which surveyed a number of factories and plants and became an effective training ground for future specialists.
In 1926, the Press Office of the Institute resumed work and began publishing The Leningrad Technologist newspaper (now known as The Technologist).
In the autumn of 1926, the Workers’ Faculty vacated LLIT premises and moved to the nearby building of the former Women's Polytechnic Courses on Zagorodny 68.
During the mid-1920s, the curricula were constantly readjusted. The country was in critical need of qualified specialists and having to train them for 7–8 years was unacceptable.
LLIT took up the challenge to graduate engineers more quickly. Initially, engineering programs were fitted into courses lasting three and a half years, but later had to be extended to four years. In the fourth year of study, socio-economic subjects, a foreign language, and military training were made mandatory. During their studies, students were required to complete two internships. Postgraduate studies were introduced in the Soviet Union in 1925 as the main form of preparation for obtaining the degree of Candidate of Sciences. The first five graduate students started pursuing postgraduate degrees at LLIT.
At the start of 1928, the Committee for the Chemicalization of the National Economy was established. Its objective was to promote the application of chemical developments in industry and agriculture.
The Institute celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1928. It had been agreed to create a monument to Professor D.I. Mendeleev, the Institute's most renowned scientist, to honor the anniversary. The sculptor M.G. Manizer (1891-1966) won the competition to design the Mendeleev monument in 1927.
The new memorial was erected in the courtyard of the New Chemical Laboratory building. The unveiling of the memorial took place during the Institute's 100th anniversary celebrations, with Mendeleev's widow in attendance. Mendeleev's bust, constructed on the campus of the Leningrad Institute of Technology, was Russia's first memorial to the renowned scientist.
Furthermore, the building of the New Chemical Laboratory, which was built in 1900, changed the name to “Mendeleevsky”. During the jubilee year, construction on the third story of the Mendeleevsky building to house labs for qualitative and quantitative studies, as well as an organic matter workshop, was underway.
During the centennial festivities, LLIT was bestowed with the newly established Order of the Red Banner of Labor. For the first time in the country’s history, a higher educational institution received a government award. The same order was also awarded to the senior academics at the Institute, including A.D. Gatsuk, A.M. Samus, A.A. Voronov, and A.A. Yakovkin.
The Institute's anniversary was commemorated not only in Russia but also internationally. Among the Technolozhka graduates were a high number of immigrants from the Russian Empire's Polish territories. From 1837 until 1913, 1300 Poles were among the Institute's 5700 alumni.
Following Poland's re-independence in November 1918, many Technolozhka graduates opted to work for the benefit of their ancestral homeland. Some, such as K.F. Tyshka and E.E. Peplovsky, held ministerial positions.
The Society of Saint Petersburg Technological Engineers included the Warsaw-based Association of Polish Technologists. It was headed by Vaclav Adamovich Vankovich, an SPPIT graduate from 1886. On December 8, 1928, a conference of Polish technological engineers was held in Warsaw, where a substantial majority of the attendees were graduates of the Institute of Technology. By a collective decision, a telegram addressed to the chairman of the Jubilee Commission, Professor A.A. Voronov, was sent to Leningrad. It read that "Polish technologists, having gathered on the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Institute of Technology to celebrate the memorable days experienced within its walls, send greetings and congratulations to their professors and colleagues on the occasion of the anniversary with wishes of success in the development of technology for the benefit of all".
In the autumn of 1928, the Institute was placed under the control of the Supreme Council of the National Economy. This allowed Technolozhka to expand into new departments, open up new specialties, re-equip laboratories, and modernize equipment.
The Institute of Technology increasingly tailored its training to the needs of industrial production. Economic organizations subsidized research work at specific departments (for example, departments of dye synthesis and technology of fibrous substances, basic chemical industry, silicate technology, and paper technology). Trusts and associations concluded individual contracts with the most promising students who undertook obligations to graduate from the Institute within a set timeframe. In exchange, they were required to work at the enterprises of this organization for a certain number of years.
Scholarship payments were offered after years of paying university fees. This was intended to help students concentrate on their studies without being distracted by the need to make a living, which allowed them to graduate sooner. The decision to provide scholarships was motivated by the pressing economic need for competent professionals.
The shift to group classes raised the need for teachers substantially. The so-called “nominated students” were designated as a reserve for graduate school and teaching positions. K.I. Rubinchik, X.V. Balyan, A.G. Rembashevsky, and P.G. Romankov were among the first students allocated to this category in the Faculty of Chemistry.
The Department of Chemical Technology of Plastics was established at LLIT in 1929 to train highly qualified engineering, technological, and scientific personnel for the new, dynamically developing, and promising polymer industry. It became the first department of its type not only in the Soviet Union but also around the world. In August 1929, a unified curriculum was implemented for LLIT and two Moscow technical universities. It stipulated a total of 30 working weeks throughout the academic year, 12 of which were to be dedicated to practical work. Students had a weekly workload of 42 hours.
In September 1929, the Textile Faculty was opened as the third faculty at LLIT. However, the Institute would soon change its faculty structure again. The year 1930 brought radical changes to the Institute.