115th Anniversary of Saint-Petersburg State Polytechnic University!



V.P. Suschenko, professor, Dr.Hab.
St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg

Key words: polytechnic university, physical culture, history, physical education department, department of physical culture and sport, laboratory.

 In 2014 St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, the largest technical university of the country, called in different years St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute named after Peter the Great, Petrograd Polytechnic Institute, Leningrad Polytechnic Institute, Leningrad Industrial Institute, Leningrad Polytechnic Institute named after M.I. Kalinin, Leningrad State Technical University, St. Petersburg State Technical University, celebrates its 115th anniversary. In recent years Polytechnic University has become famous for its remarkable achievements in science, training of elite personnel for many sectors of the economy, in the development of primary scientific and technical projects. The university graduates are outstanding scientists, designers, production managers and statesmen. Today the university consists of 13 institutes, where more than 25 thousand Russian and foreign students are being trained. As a leader in Russia, the oldest university is fighting for the right to become one of the best higher educational institutions in the world by participating in the program "5-100-2020". This article highlights another aspect of its glorious history - the achievements of polytechnic students in sport.

There was a great demand for engineering personnel in the country in the second half of the XIX century. The existing institutions could not contribute to the technical progress, so it was crucial to issue a royal decree on the construction of "St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute" which was implemented on the 19th of February, 1899. By this time the polytechnic institutes were opened only in Warsaw and Kiev, while St. Petersburg Institute was being created in the capital of Russia with the most qualified scientific and pedagogical staff, thus ensuring proper training of future specialists.

The building committee of the institute was headed by Prince A.G. Gagarin, who later became the first director. Soon after opening they built a bowling alley, a gym with machines, devices, weights, spadroons and foils for the students’ physical development. A bit later they added ping pong, 2 tennis courts and chess [2].

The sport site was organized close to students’ studies and accommodation area because the institute was situated at the significant distance from the city. In 1908 amateur sailing clubs (a yacht club), a chess club, etc. were established by the Council of St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute named after Peter the Great [1].

In 1929 a War Cabinet was initiated and students of the Institute of Physical Culture were invited for sport and physical education work using the funds of the Cabinet. The sking lodge was opened in January of the same year.

At the end of 1930 the name of the student of the electromechanical faculty M.M. Botvinnik was first mentioned in the chess sphere, when he took the 2nd place at the Leningrad chess championship and later became a multiple champion of the USSR and the world in this sport [3].

The department of physical education was established in 1934 as a part of the military training department. D.G. Bogdanov became the first head of it, later he died during the defense of Leningrad in September 1941.

The institute won the 1st places at the All-Union sports contests among higher schools of the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry in 1934 and 1936.

Starting from the 1st of September 1935 the compulsory physical education classes for 1-2-year students using the tests of the GTO (the Russian acronym of the “Ready for Labor and Defense”) complex were introduced at the institute. 16 teachers worked in this department.

The first student sports contest of the Institute with 606 participants was held in spring of 1937 [3].

 In 1940 during the war with Finland a detachment was formed of 42 most physically fit students from all faculties, most polytechnic students were enrolled in the 98th separate ski battalion and involved in the warfare.

The1st separate mounted rifles brigade, which included a group of climbers and skiers of the institute, was formed at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War on the 5th of July 1941 in Leningrad.

After the war the system of mandatory classes for the 1st and the 2nd year students was restored in the institute: two times a week for 2 hours in accordance with the conditioning program. One of the most famous athletes of the Soviet Union Yu.V. Aroshidze started his boxing career at the end of 40s. Having entered the institute in 1948, he was keen on volleyball and soon joined the national team. In 1957, being a member of the team "Spartak", Yu.V. Aroshidze became the champion of the USSR, as a member of the national team – a champion of the International Youth Friendly Games, and in 1960 - a world champion in Brazil. Another outstanding athlete S.N. Koikov, participant of many marathon and ultramarathon races, entered this institute in 1948.

The Northern sports camp of Leningrad Polytechnic Institute (LPI) was established on the coast of the Lake Vuoksa close to Priozersk in 1955. Student of the faculty of mechanics and mathematics Boris Markarov being in the water polo team of the USSR won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. The LPI obtained the freed frontier station in the Novomikhaylovskiy village on the Black Sea in 1959 and rearranged it as the Southern sports camp.

In 1963, the main sports and training center was opened in the campus, and in 1964 a swimming pool was opened and water sports became truly massive in the institute. The building of a skiing lodge in the Kavgolovo village in the same year was important for the development of winter sports.

In 1972 T. Faust became the champion of Europe in women’s basketball. About 200 polytechnic university students were in the mountain climbers team "Burevestnik" and 18 – in the national teams. The mountain climbers headed by the champion of the USSR V.V. Markelov were among the strongest in the country.

 In 1976 student of Polytechnic Institute E.N. Kulikov became an Olympic champion in speed skating in Innsbruck (500m – 39,17) and a silver medalist of the Olympic Games-80  in Lake-Placid (500m – 38,37), after that he got the title of an Honored Master of Sports of the USSR.

In 1974 the Department of Physical Education was awarded the Red Banner of the City Sports Committee for successful organization of physical culture and sports activities.

The active work in the field of science started at the department in the early seventies. The research laboratory (headed by Associate Professor A.V. Zinkovsky) was opened at the department in 1972. The main direction of its work was the study of human motor activity.

The Department of Physical Education and the Sports Club "Politekhnik" were historically established coordinators of staff sport events. Therefore, the activities of the heads of the chair of physical education, who have made a significant contribution to the development of sports life of SPbSPU, should not be left unnoticed. These are: D.G. Bogdanov (1934-1935), P.E. Bol’shev (1935-1336), G.B. Mikhalkin (1936-1937, 1946-1951), N.A. Bol’shakov (1937-1938), B.K. Lurye (1939-1941), N.A. Kopyl (1943-1944), Z.M. Vinogradov (1944-1945), O.V. Kos’min (1952-1955), V.F.  Miroshnikov (1955-1961), M.N. Shupeyko (1961-1977), O.A. Terekhin (1977-1988), P.V. Polovnikov (1988-2001), V.Yu. Volkov (2001-2013). Today the staff of the physical culture and sports department of SPbSPU (headed by the Head of the Department - the author of this paper) is doing his best to maintain and develop the glorious sports traditions of the polytechnic department of past years.

Based on the results of 2013 the University won the All-Russian competition for the organization of physical culture and sports activities among students. The University team performs in 65 sports in St. Petersburg university championships and is a strong leader. Annually more than 70 competitions and tournaments are held in the university. Trainers and teachers of the sports club "Politekhnik" and the department have trained 75 masters of sports, 186 candidates for master of sports and more than 360 first-rank athletes. Today our students perform very successfully: Igor Lyapaev – a winner of the Russian Fudokan karate do championship, a silver medalist at the European Junior Karate championship and a two-time bronze medalist in team competitions; Daniil Ufimtsev – a champion of Russia, a winner of the World Karate championship WKF; Ivan Zhodan – a champion of Russia, Europe and World in Taekwondo; world-class athlete Irina Gazeeva -  a champion of Russia, a winner of the European Judo championship; Vera Kas’yanova – a champion of Russia, a winner of the European Cup in judo and many others.

It is perspective to carry out research of new engineering technologies in the sphere of physical culture and sport, as well as valeological education for schoolchildren and students started by the department Bioadaptive engineering laboratory (headed by Associate Professor I.K. Yaichnikov).

Today the department staff of 92 teachers, including 8 doctors of science, 25 PhDs, 12 professors, 14 associate professors, 6 honored workers of physical culture and sport, 1 honored scientist, 3 honored trainers of Russia, 1 chess grandmaster, 1 master of sport of international class and more than 30 masters of sports, is implementing the new physical education curriculum, which is distinguished by the combination of health improving, developmental and training problems of the training and educational orientation.

Polytechnic University has a modern complex of sports facilities to implement the new physical education curriculum. The facilities include swimming pool with warm-up class and weight room, sauna and sun tanning bed; basketball and volleyball halls; wrestling and boxing halls; gym; skiing lodge; climbing wall; valeology center and rehabilitation center for students with severe disabilities; weight room; chess club; training base in the Kavgolovo village. There is also a sports healthcare room; massage and auto-training rooms; educational-methodological rooms; educational and research lab on health issues. In addition, there is a stadium with two football fields, a tennis court, fitness area and playgrounds in the vast area adjacent to the old park of Polytechnic University. The construction of an ice hall, a multipurpose hall and a hotel for athletes is being planned and new open sports grounds for training and implementation of the “Ready for Labour and Defence” complex are being equipped.

From the foregoing it can be concluded that the starting position of the Department of Physical Culture and Sport is consistent with the spirit of the time. It will adequately perform the task of a sharp increase of mass physical culture and sport among students and staff of Polytechnic University. We believe that the sports "standard", which is considerably high, will never fall.


  1. SPbSPU [Electronic resource]: official site of SPbSPU. – St. Petersburg –-URL: www.sport.spbstu.ru/ (In Russian)
  2. Grigor'ev, A.E. Physical Culture and Sport in St. Petersburg State Technical University (historical sketch) / A.E. Grigor'ev, P.V. Polovnikov, et al. – St. Petersburg: SPbSPU, 1997. – 243 P. (In Russian)
  3. Grigor'ev, A.E. Polytechnical students about sport / A.E. Grigor'ev, P.V. Polovnikov, V.V. Zverev. – St. Petersburg: Publ. h-se of St. Petersburg un-ty. 2000. – 204 P. (In Russian)