Odesa Polytechnic National University

Odesa Polytechnic National University (Національний університет ‘Одеська Політехніка’; Derzhavnyi universytet ‘Odeska Politekhnika’). The fourth oldest polytechnical school of higher education in Ukraine, founded in Odesa in 1918. An idea to open a higher polytechnical school in the city was first broached before the First World War; among its most active proponents was a mathematics professor at New Russia University Ivan Tymchenko. Founded as a municipal institution, Odesa Polytechnical Institute (OPI) was financed by the Odesa city council and was officially recognized by the government of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky on 31 August 1918. Initially, OPI consisted of three faculties: mechanics (with the electromechanical, shipbuilding, and mechanical departments); civil engineering (with the departments of hydrotechnical engineering and plumbing); and economics (with the departments of administration and finances, and commerce and industry). The enrollment in 1918 was around 1,100. In the 1920s, in line with the Bolshevik social policies, increasingly more of the institute’s students came from the working class: their share grew from 29 percent in 1923–4 to 41.3 percent in 1926–7. The faculty included several renowned scientists, including mathematician Ivan Tymchenko, physicists Leonid Mandelshtam and Nikolai Papaleksi, chemist Dmytro Dobroserdov, electrical engineer Sergei Berlin, and mechanics specialist Gavriil Suslov. Several of the OPI’s professors were on the editorial board of Nauchno-tekhnicheskii zhurnal, a scholarly periodical published in Odesa in the 1920s. In response to the demands of the Stalinist rapid industrialization, in 1930 OPI was divided into several specialized technical institutes (including water transport engineering, energetics, and communications), while the rest of the faculties were incorporated into Odesa Evening Workers’ Industrial Institute (renamed Odesa Industrial Institute (OII) in 1933). The institute’s main objective was to combine theoretical training with practical needs of Soviet planned economy, above all heavy industry. OII became a leading technical institute of Soviet Ukraine.

During the Second World War much of the institute’s teaching and research infrastructure (including 60 percent of its training shops) was plundered by the Nazi occupiers. Some of OII facilities and faculty members were evacuated to Penza in the Ural region of RSFSR, where they formed a basis for Penza State University. In spring 1944, OII was reopened in Odesa. In 1945 it was reorganized again into a polytechnical institute (OPI). By the end of the decade its damaged buildings were restored and expanded. In postwar decades some of the institute’s departments established close collaboration with the city’s industrial enterprises. OPI’s scientists helped Odesa’s factories adopt new technologies and provided technical expertise, advice, and training for engineers and workers. Between 1945 and 1955 almost 3,000 engineers graduated from OPI. The number of engineering majors grew substantially: from around a dozen in the 1950s to 26 in 1969. Around this time OPI had 6 faculties: mechanical engineering; thermal-power engineering; electrotechnical; chemical engineering; radio electronics; and general technical. In addition, a branch of OPI functioned in Sevastopol from 1960. During the 1960s and 1970s the institute’s scientists took an active part in developing the Soviet space program. Among other projects, they worked on the design of a control system for artificial satellites and on materials processing for the ‘Energy’ space programs. These decades also saw a proliferation of computers in engineering practice (already by the early 1970s OPI had 317 different computers, virtually all of them made in the USSR). OPI’s student enrollment grew from 4,276 in 1959–60 to over 10,000 in 1985–6.

OPI continued to be a leading polytechnical school in independent Ukraine. In 1992 it developed its own computer network connected to the Internet, one of the earliest higher educational institutions in Ukraine to do so. In 1993 it received the state university status with enhanced autonomy and was renamed Odesa State Polytechnical University (ODPU). It emerged as a main entity in the newly created teaching and research complex ‘Polytechnical University’ that provided pre-college training to secondary school students of around 50 colleges, tekhnikums, gymnasiums, lyceums, and schools located chiefly in Odesa and Odesa oblast. Each year more than 70 percent of ODPU’s first-year students are graduates of its pre-college program. In the 1990s ODPU underwent several major organizational changes, among them the introduction of the so-called ‘contract education’ (privately funded by students or companies), the creation of scientific research institutes on the basis of existing faculties, and the emergence of new majors and subjects of study, such as jewelry casting; machine dynamics and durability; metrology; ecology; pharmaceutical technology; nuclear physics; non-traditional energy sources; home electronics; automation systems software; information technology; applied mathematics; and organizational management. Another major change after 1991 was the introduction of several new chairs, subjects, and majors in the humanities and social sciences, including Ukrainian history and ethnography; philosophy of science and engineering; cultural studies; journalism; psychology; business and economics; etc. In 2001 ODPU was granted the status of a national institution of higher education. In 2020 it merged with Sevastopol National Technical University and in 2021 assumed its current name: Odesa Polytechnic National University (NUOP).

The university’s 14 institutes include business, economy, and information technology; information security, radio electronics, and telecommunications; medical engineering; Ukrainian-Spanish Institute; Ukrainian-German Institute; Ukrainian-Polish Institute; electromechanics and energy management; computer systems; industrial technologies, design, and management; foreign students training; energetics and computer-integrated control systems; machine building and transportation; artificial intelligence and robotics; and evening and correspondence courses. The university also has two faculties: chemical technology and the humanities. It operates four specialized schools: Odesa Automotive Engineering Professional College; Nova Kakhovka Polytechnical Professional College; Kherson Polytechnical Professional College; and Berezivka Higher Vocational School. Its student enrollment is 6,618 (as of 2021). The university’s library holds 1.2 million volumes. NUOP publishes several scientific periodicals, including Iaderna ta radiatsiina bezpeka/Nuclear and Radiation Safety (91 vols, 1998–), Visnyk suchasnykh informatsiinykh tekhnolohii (4 vols, 2018–), Pratsi Odes'koho politekhnichnoho instytutu (63 vols, 1996–), Prykladni aspekty informatsiinykh tekhnolohii (4 vols, 2018–), Ekonomichnyi zhurnal Odes'koho politekhnichnoho instytutu (17 vols, 2017–), Elektrotekhnichni ta komp’iuterni systemy (published as Elektromashinostroenie i elektrooborudovanie in 1965–2010) (109 vols, 1965–), and Informatyka ta matematychni metody v modeliuvanni (11 vols, 2011–).

NUOP is ranked among Ukraine’s best institutions of higher learning. For instance, it was ranked 36th in the 2021 Consolidated Ranking of all Ukrainian institutions of higher learning (more than 240 featured) according to the influential educational web portal Osvita.ua. It was also ranked 7th best technical university in Ukraine.

Odesskii gosudarstvennyi politekhnicheskii universitet. 1918–1998 (Odesa 1998)
Istoriia Odesskogo politekhnicheskogo v ocherkakh: 1918–2003 (Odesa 2003)

Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was updated in 2021.]

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