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Russian Engineers of Distinction – A Look at Russia’s Success

Russian Engineers of Distinction – A Look at Russia’s Success; Pshegornitskiy, Tupolev and Botvinnik share a common enthusiasm for the discipline of engineering making unique contributions to the electricity and aeronautics industries.

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By Contributing Author

Russia has a long history of producing engineers who have had major impacts on the development of technologies and industries both domestically and internationally. Below is a brief glimpse into three interesting and diverse Russian engineers.

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Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik is one of the more unusual Russian engineers in that he was also a world chess champion. In addition to his work as a computer scientist and electrical engineer, Botvinnik scored the titles of Russian International Grandmaster and World Chess Champion throughout the period 1948 to 1963.

Botvinnik was born in 1911 in what is today St. Petersburg. His mother was a dentist and his father a dental technician, which allowed them, as Jews, to live freely in St. Petersburg. His chess career began at the age of 12 and Botvinnik quickly became the winner of school matches. After intervention on his behalf, Botvinnik was admitted in 1928 to study mathematics at Leningrad University. In 1929, once again by the intervention of his chess connections, Botvinnik was transferred to the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute Electromechanical Department. His love for chess often came in the way of academics, but ultimately Botvinnik earned his PhD in electrical engineering in 1951.

Botvinnik received the prestigious Order of the Badge of Honor for his work on the Urals power stations during World War II. He became a senior research scientist at the Research Institute for Electrical Engineering in 1956. His final project, on which he worked until his death, was a computer program that he believed would manage the Russian economy. With no backing from the government, Botvinnik invested his own funds, hoping to bring the economic computer program to fruition.

Anatoliy Pshegornitskiy

Anatoliy Pshegornitskiy began his foray into engineering while still in the Red Army. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he obtained two degrees in electrical engineering from military education institutions. He received a degree in Economics from the University of Moscow. Pshegornitskiy left the Army in the early 1990s after 10 years of service. At the time, the military, as well as all of Soviet infrastructure, was dealing with the ramifications of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Pshegornitskiy had an advantage over his peers in that he was educated in a much needed profession—electrical engineering. Pshegornitskiy began to manage a number of electricity projects, and went on to become the head of the industry association, leading the effort to establish self-regulations and standards. He is credited with helping to professionalize the electricity infrastructure construction industry, and improving relations between the industry and government officials, stakeholders and customers.

Pshegornitskiy was appointed head of RusEngineering Holding, a parent company of around 100 subsidiaries involved in the design and construction of electric grid infrastructure. Under his leadership, the company expanded its market reach, improved customer trust and increased revenues. At the time of his departure, RusEngineering had amassed $1 billion in assets.

Alexei Tupolev

Alexei Tupolev was an aircraft designer, best known for leading the design team on the Tu-144, the Soviet version of the supersonic aircraft Concorde. The aircraft had a short life though, being very noisy, with a strong vibration, lacking in luxury and ultimately crashing at the 1973 Paris air show. Tupolev attained global recognition as one of the leading aircraft designers in the world.

Alexei Tupolev was born in Moscow in 1925 and graduated in 1949 from the Moscow Aviation Institute. His father, Andrei Tupolev was also an aircraft designer. After graduation, Tupolev went to work at the family business, helping to design the mass production of passenger jets. He became head of the Tupolev companies after his father’s death.

Alexei Tupolev modified the Tu-144 and it became successful as a long-range supersonic nuclear bomber for the Russian military. In 1988, he completed work on the Tu-155 which was the first commercial aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. The Buran space shuttle, designed by Tupolev, was a natural follow-up to his efforts to develop “green engine” technology. It was meant to fly passengers across the Pacific Ocean in only an hour. The Buran space shuttle had one unmanned space flight before being jettisoned to the hangar due to lack of funding.






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