History and Herritage

A need for a fundamentally new type of engineers to work in the new sectors of aviation science and technology arose in Russia in the early 20th century. An outstanding Russian scientist the founder of aero-hydrodynamics Professor Nikolai Zhukovsky initiated the foundation of scientific and educational centers to conduct the necessary research and training of scientists and engineers for the industry’s development. Under the patronage of his follower an outstanding scientists and teacher Boris Yuriev, Aeromechanical Department was founded at the mechanical faculty of MVTU (Moscow Higher Technical School). It was converted into Aeromechanical Faculty in 1929.


On the 20th of March 1930 it was decided to split MVTU into five specialised engineering schools, among which there also was Higher Aeromechanical School (VAMU). In the spring of 1930 the first cohort of students was enrolled in the school. The number of students at this period was about 450. The classes were held in two and even three shifts.

On the 20th of August 1930 VAMU changed its name into Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI). MAI, just like VAMU, consisted of three departments: Aircraft Construction, Engine Construction and Aeronautics.

In the autumn of 1930 the institute was given the building of the former gymnasium on the 5th Tverskaya-Yamskaya street. In September 1930, the institute had 850 students. Employees of TSAGI (Central Aero-hydrodynamics Institute) and MVTU formed the basis of teaching staff of the institute. Further formation of modern material and technical base of the institute contributed to the rapid progress of all institute’s activities in the latter half of the 30-ies.

The structure of the institute was continuously improving to meet the aviation industry’s new requirements. Widespread deployment of the aviation industry those years created demand for specialists in planning and manufacturing process managment.


By 1940 MAI evolved as a leading scientific and educational center specialised in training of broad specialists in aviation science and industry. MAI consisted of 5 faculties, 38 departments, 22 laboratories, 24 classrooms, training workshops and a flight training unit. Apart from education of specialists and scientists MAI at the same time carried out researches and a number of design developments that left a noticeable trace in the history of world aviation.

During the World War II a large group of MAI teachers and staff volunteered to go to the battlefield, many employees of the institute were seconded to the aviation industry enterprises. During the war time educational and scientific activities were transferred to Alma-Ata.


The postwar period of MAI development is associated with revolutionary changes in aviation technology. In accordance with the new requirements a number of new departments and faculties was established in the institute. In 1946 the Faculty of Radio Engineering was launched. A number of departments for various types of missile design and construction was established in the early 50-ies. This stage resulted in the transformation of the institute which was previously focused mainly on aircrafts and helicopters into Aviation Polytechnic Institute, providing training for a wide range of scientific and engineering organizations in aviation and aerospace industry.


In 1959 the Department of Aircraft Design and Construction was established (since 1993 it is called Space Systems and Missile Engineering) based on the training of specialists in the field of missile and space technology. From the establishment and until 1990, the Department was headed by the first Deputy Chief Designer S. Korolev, the academician V. Mishin (MAI graduate of 1941). The Department initiated a broad training of specialists for the space industry and served as a base for further organization of the Aerospace Department in 1968.


On the 25th of April 1962 the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin visited MAI. He held meeting with professors and teachers of the institute and visited the laboratories of the Aircraft Faculty.

The same year MAI graduate V. Ponomareva entered the cosmonaut corps; she completed the full course of training and stayed with the corps until 1969, being Tereshkova’s backer-up.


MAI branch "Voskhod" in the city of Leninsk, Kazakh SSR (at the Baikonur Cosmodrome) was established in 1964.


In 1965 the building for the laboratory of the Aircraft Design and Construction Faculty (building 11 "A") was constructed. The laboratory was completely technologically equipped in 1971.


The Department No.604 "System Analysis and Management" was founded in 1966. It conducts training in the field of analysis and synthesis of complex organizational-technical systems evaluating their efficiency, as well as in the field of automatic aircraft dynamics and motion control.


Student design bureau of space technology "Iskra" was established at the Department of Aircraft Design and Construction in 1967. The Department’s Head academician V. Mishin carried out the overall scientific management of the student design bureau. The direct scientific supervisor of the bureau was one of the pioneers of domestic space-rocket engineering, a Hero of Socialist Labor, Professor M. Tikhonravov.

The students, employees and teachers of the bureau (headed by V.Gushchin) for the first time in the world designed student artificial earth satellites “Iskra” that were constructed with assistance of other organisations and later put into orbit by the regular spaceships.


On the 3rd of August 1968 "Aeronautical Engineering" Faculty was divided into two departments: "Aircraft and Helicopter Engineering" (№1) and "Aircraft" (№6). Later, in 1983, it was renamed into the Faculty of Astronautics and Automatic Aircraft and got its current name Aerospace in 1993.

From 11 to 16 November of the same year V. Kubasov (MAI graduate of 1958) being the first among MAI graduates made a space flight as a flight engineer of spacecraft "Soyuz-6". During that flight the crew performed the world's first experiment on welding operations in space.

As of February 2017, 22 MAI graduates made space flights, including the first female cosmonaut to enter the open space. It was MAI graduate S. Savitskaya.


In 1970 new Departments №605 "Aircraft Software and Testing", №606 "Engineering Technology", and №607 "Life Support and Safety Systems" were established at the Faculty №6. The departments started training specialists for the rocket-space industry of the country.


From 1973 to 1980 the institute greatly expanded its material and technical base. By the time of its fiftieth anniversary (1980) MAI had 18 fulltime and evening faculties with 80 departments.


In the 80s MAI team was consistently solving the task of converting MAI into a technical university.

Works on design and construction of different types of aircrafts and engines were carried out in MAI constantly. In MAI they designed more than 200 types of aircrafts and aircraft engines, including: 26 planes, 25 rotary-wing aircrafts, 24 aircraft frames, 30 hang gliders and trikes, 29 remotely piloted aircrafts, 12 artificial earth satellites and space crafts, 6 lighter-than-air aircrafts (airships, balloons, etc.), 11 flapping wing aircrafts, 10 underwater research vehicles, 44 aircraft engines. Lightweight aerobatic plane Kvant designed by the student design bureau and built in MAI experimental manufacturing workshop set five world records (in 70-80ies).


Since 1992 after a long break MAI has greatly intensified its international activities. The number of foreign citizens studying in MAI on a contract basis substantially increased as a result of that. Among foreign students and postgraduates of MAI there are citizens of the countries of South-East Asia, Syria, Iran, America, Canada, almost all European countries. MAI is annually visited by the representatives of nearly 90 international organizations. Up to 130 teachers, students, and employees of MAI travel abroad. During this period MAI has implemented more than 50 international agreements with partners from France, China, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Syria and other countries.


In 1998 the Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK Aviaregister) granted MAI a certificate of the designer of light civil aircrafts.


Department №610 "Operation Management of Aerospace Systems" was established in 2005 due to the increased domestic and international markets demands for qualified professionals to construct and operate aerospace equipment. In 2009 Department №605 "Engineering Systems Testing" (established in 1970) became a part of Department №610 with the aim of combining efforts to train specialists to manage operation and testing of aerospace systems. The Department trains specialists for the space industry. The main employers for the future graduates are JSC "RKK Energia", Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, Lavochkin Association, and other major aerospace enterprises.


In 2009 MAI became one of the 12 Russian universities, winners of the competitive selection of university development programs, that were granted the category of National Research University by the Government of the Russian Federation.


In September 2015 MAI launched a bachelor training program in Aircraft Constructruction with five directions. Foreign students are trained in English for 4 years under this programme. In addition, a contract on joint degree programmes with Nanjing University of Astronautics and Aeronautics, the largest University in China is signed.  

Moscow Aviation Institute takes an active part in international associations such as:

• Worldwide CDIO initiative for engineering education;

• Association of Technical Universities of Russia and China;

• Partnership of a European Group of Aeronautics and Space Universities PEGASUS;

• International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS);

• International Astronautical Federation (IAF).

On the 31st of March 2015 the Ministry of Education reorganized Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) by annexation of the Russian State Technological University named after Tsiolkovsky (MATI).

Qualified personnel and internationally recognized scientific schools, the longstanding traditions of MAI provide the preparation of high-class specialists, preservation and development of the teaching and laboratory facilities allows us to look optimistically on the future of the Russian leading university.


On the 29th of June 2016 Mikhail Pogosyan was appointed to the post of Rector of the Moscow Aviation Institute.

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