The latest episode of MISTI Radio featured the work being done through the MIT-Russia and Eurasia Program. Aerospace student Alex Knapp (Aeronautics and Astronautics ’19) spent his summer working on robotics in Moscow, gaining both high-tech skills and cultural insight that he could not have acquired on the MIT campus alone.
Knapp spoke at length about his experience living and working in Russia as an intern at Skoltech, one of the country’s leading research universities, located in Russia’s Silicon Valley near Moscow. He spent his summer researching autonomous mobile robots at the Intelligent Space Robotics Laboratory under the supervision of Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou. While there, he was impressed by the high-level technology he was able to work with.
“If there weren’t a lot of people speaking Russian, I don’t know if I would have known that I wasn’t at MIT. The labs there were what I would expect from labs at MIT,” he said. He not only gained technical experience at Skoltech, but was also given guidance on how to write a technical paper based on his research.
“This is one of the most fascinating parts of the world,” said Katya Zabrovskaya, Managing Director of the MIT-Russia and Eurasia Program, who spoke about the importance of sending MISTI students to Eurasia for internships, research and teaching opportunities. As post-Soviet countries are known for strong education in science and technology, she believes it is beneficial for MIT students to establish professional connections there or even find life-long friends. “Also, given current difficult political situation, Russia is an important country to know,” she added.
Speaking of the current tensions between the U.S. and Russia, Knapp assured that “Nobody cared if I was American. Before I left, I would get questions, why I wanted to go to Russia, whether I was sure I wanted to go there. The thing that I learned was that Russians do a better job of separating between politics and normal life.”
The show also featured music from the region, including Russian band t.A.T.u.’s “All The Things She Said” and Chakrulo, a Georgian polyphonic choral folk song, giving listeners a glimpse of the culture that Eurasia has to offer.
MISTI Radio airs every other Monday on 88.1 WMBR, MIT’s campus radio station. To listen to the full version of the show, click here.
WMBR is the MIT campus radio station. Its programming includes a wide range of music shows, public affairs programs and eclectic audio entertainment. MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) piloted its own program in 2018 to showcase MIT students’ experiences in different countries. MISTI currently has over 25 programs sending MIT students to intern, research and teach across the world.