The history of the University goes back to 1902, when the Polytechnic Institute was established in St. Petersburg on the wave of the economic and cultural boom in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. The first in Russia shipbuilding department was one of the four faculties of the new institute. From the very beginning, it had been a very prestigious and fast developing department.
On April 26, 1930, it was transformed into an independent educational institution named the Shipbuilding Institute (LKI) which became a direct successor of the LPI Shipbuilding Department and continuator of the traditions of the Russian higher education in shipbuilding.
The new institute made a major contribution in the establishment of the Soviet Navy and strengthening the defense of the USSR.
Following the beginning of World War II, many LKI students were drafted to the army or took expedited courses of military training. After the announcement of the nation-wide mobilization, the LKI Rector Ivan I. Yakovlev became one of the first institute’s volunteers; 1200 students followed him. At the same time, detachments of local air defense and a special machine-gun squadron were formed of students and teachers of the institute.
The LKI staff was engaged in defense works in the besieged city. However, lectures and classes kept going on in the basement of the building at #3 Lotsmanskaya Str.: Professor V.K. Dormidomtov taught lectures on shipbuilding technology; Professor G.Ye. Pavlenko taught the theory of ships; and postgraduate I.B. Ikonnikov conducted practical seminars. In 1942, evacuation of the institute staff to the Northern Caucasus started. It took many hours just to cross the Ladoga by the “Road of Life” to reach the Zhikharevo Train Station to board a train going to unoccupied territories. Tragically, this way to the “Big Land” proved to be the last trip for many LKI teachers: G.A. Zabotkin, Head of the Chair of Theoretical Mechanics; N.P. Gudkov, Associate Professor of the Design Chair, G.A. Firsov, Assistant Professor of the Chemistry Chair, and many others. Many of those who stayed in Leningrad had died of starvation and bombing.
The full-fledged educational process in the main institute building at #3 Lotsmanskaya Str. resumed in October 1943. By the fall of 1944, 160 senior grade students came back from evacuation, and in November of that year, the experimental tank was put back in operation: postgraduate student Ya.I. Voitkunskiy had restored its roof with his own hands. When in December 1944 the headquarters for city restoration were established, students, employees, and teachers took active part in reconstruction of the institute buildings, dormitories, and general improvement of the area.
World War II showed that many pre-war concepts in shipbuilding had to be updated or fully replaced. Mainly, the shipbuilding industry was now focused on construction of submarines, advanced navigation, and military equipping of all vessels. A new instrumentation faculty was established at LKI. Also at that time, cooperation between the Institute and design and construction marine organizations became much tighter and more fruitful. LKI graduates were actively employed by famous soviet construction bureaus and shipbuilding enterprises.
In the nearly 90 years of LKI – SMTU history, more than 60 thousand highly qualified specialists for shipbuilding, Navy, and many other industries have been trained.
The list of alumni includes names of world-known scholars, academicians, ministers, CEOs of leading enterprises, and chief constructors of marine equipment. There is no doubt that the talent pool trained at the shipbuilding department of St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute and at Leningrad Shipbuilding Institute had been playing the key role in the establishment of the Russian ocean fleet in the 20th century.
By the 1990s, LKI had accumulated a huge potential and practical experience in training marine engineers of higher qualification, capable of perceiving the existing and new research spheres, advance technical and technological progress, become active participants of the essential researches and developments. However, due to the cardinal political changes in the country, core transformations in the structure and content of education offered by the Institute became imminent.
The end of the Cold War and arm race resulted in a sharp reduction of the amounts of design work and construction of ships for the naval forces of the country. The structure of the staffing requirements has cardinally altered due to the changes in the internal domestic product of Russia: the growing quota of services (legal, economic, financial, and social) and reduction of the production sphere. In the 1990s, the international labor market had been growing in the country in the result of the increasing number of international companies operating in Russia and a sharp increase of the number of export contracts in the shipbuilding industry.
Meeting the challenges of the new economic conditions, LKI had significantly expanded the scale of educational services offered, reduced the number of educational programs designed for specific tasks and replaced them with educational programs of broad areas of study combined with profound fundamental education. This allowed the institute to be one of the first five technical schools of higher education in Russia to get the status of a technical university which it was granted in 1990. In 1992, the University received its present name of St. Petersburg State Marine Technical University.