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Norilsk renovation gifts practical work experience to Far North civil engineering students

Civil engineering students of the Polar State University have attended an on-site lecture on the restoration of Norilsk’s “Tower” public space. Those interested will be able to join the team of civil engineers restoring the building.
Until the early 1990s, while urban infrastructure and residential buildings were still being built in Norilsk, students of Russia’s northernmost university complemented their theoretical knowledge by gaining practical construction experience. After construction in the city ground to a halt, learning was reduced to theory, and university graduates still needed on-the-job training.

But in 2024, under the Norilsk renovation program, several socially significant sites are being redeveloped or given a new lease of life. Future civil engineering graduates have had the opportunity to see construction and restoration processes with their own eyes.

Cultural heritage sites. The year-round public space “Tower” at 1 Leninsky Prospekt will open in 2024. The restoration of the building, with additional funding from Nornickel, is nearing completion.

As a cultural heritage site, the Tower is subject to field supervision. Together with its “twin” at 2 Leninsky Prospekt, the building is Norilsk’s most famous landmark. Accordingly, the restoration process will preserve its architectural details and original appearance.
The restoration of the building started a year ago. During this period, the contractor (BelSlavInvest) has replaced the floors, installed new heat and water supply systems, replaced old windows, and strengthened the walls with concrete injections.

Ties between the company and the Polar State University are growing stronger thanks to a comprehensive social and economic development plan for the city. Today cooperation between Nornickel and the university is not limited to the company’s core business, but also encompasses civil engineering.

A demo of the construction process

Vladimir Erokhin, Deputy Director of Nornickel’s Polar Branch Project Office, which is responsible for supporting the comprehensive redevelopment of Norilsk, gave the students a detailed tour of the Tower project. He spoke the restoration of buildings in permafrost regions, after company representatives had earlier met with the future civil engineers at the university.


“It is very important to share professional expertise with young people who are studying civil engineering. I graduated from the Norilsk Industrial Institute where theory was complemented with practical industrial experience. We combined work and study. After five years, I gained a wealth of hands-on experience. So, when I started a job at a construction site, I was familiar with many of the processes and was well prepared to work independently as a foreman.”

Vladimir Erokhin has been in construction for 37 years. He believes it is vital for the Polar Branch to help develop student practical skills. With hands-on experience under their belt, they will join construction projects as qualified professionals who are capable of making decisions. It is all the more important in the Far North.

Student opinions

Students, who are about to defend their graduation projects, asked questions to civil engineers and shared their thoughts.

“My graduation project is closely linked to restoration. It was great to see things with my own eyes. It is one thing to learn theory and quite another to see it for yourself. I take an interest in permafrost science. After graduation, I plan to stay in Norilsk and work in this field,” said Rimma Ragimova, a 4th year student of the PS 20 group of the chair of the Mining and Technology Faculty of the Polar State University.

Her classmate Tatyana Vakulenko is considering a career in Norilsk, too: “We heard a lot of interesting stuff about how the Tower was restored, and how the foundation was erected. It turned out that they did not install a pile foundation, but dug out a large pit, placed pillars in it, backfilled it and installed piling caps.”

Ruslan Vakhitov followed in his older brother’s footsteps – since childhood, he has been watching his brother work and studying drawings: “We have designed floors, beams, buildings, but I have never seen any of it in real life until today. It’s interesting to learn about how things work in real life, about various design stages, and the required documents.”

An internship offer

The on-site lecture took an unexpected turn. Konstantin Fialkovsky, a representative of the contractor (BelSlavInvest), invited students to immerse themselves in work here and now. Those interested are welcome to join his team of civil engineers. Several students seized the opportunity.

Students’ visits to other restoration projects funded by Nornickel will continue. Next up is the building of the Polar State University.

Photos by Nornickel
March, 2023
Social Norilsk News