From year to year, students’ interest in the Conquerors of the North business game, which is held within the Professional Start program, is constantly growing. In 2015, when the project just started, 194 people were its participants. Last year there were more than 300. And 2020 set a new record: more than 400 students became the conquerors of the North.
Over the summer, the guys mastered 13 training blocks, among them – the basics of project management and work with presentations. Young people learned to sell their ideas and competently build public speeches, build their careers in a large company. Nornickel experts generously shared their knowledge with the participants of the business game.
The summing up, as well as the game itself, took place online this year. The senior vice president of Nornickel, the head of the Norilsk division, Nikolay Utkin, in his video message congratulated the participants of the business game and wished them not to stop at the achieved heights.
“The Conquerors of the North business game is a real chance to become a member of the friendly, well-coordinated and professional team of Nornickel”, Nikolay Utkin said. “Thanks to the game, you got the opportunity to work out your personal and professional competencies. While playing, you were able to feel like a head of the company, learned to make systemic and complex decisions, independently managed the project and the team. In addition, you tried your hand at finding optimal solutions related to the development of the Arctic. We are waiting for everyone and especially the best participants at the enterprises of the Norilsk division.
Saving the permafrost
The topic of the practical stage of the Conquerors of the North business game was research work on the climate change. For a month, third-fifth year students of mining and metallurgical specialties were looking for solutions that would minimize the effects of the climate warming, strengthen the permafrost and increase the efficiency and safety of construction in the North.
More than 40 teams took part in the defense of their projects. Only three of them won prizes. The Mountain Bananas team won the third place. It presented its strategy for creating a system for managing climate factors in the Arctic. Among the advanced technologies for the construction of industrial facilities in permafrost conditions, ventilated undergrounds with the permafrost preservation, deep cooling devices, and polymer materials are used. The guys offered their own solution – the method of thermal insulation based on airgel. Airgel is unique as it has a low coefficient of thermal conductivity, it is easy to store and transport – it is a lightweight porous material, its proven durability is more than 50 years, and it has proven itself perfectly in a cyclic temperature regime. By the way, airgel has been repeatedly mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records for its properties.
The second place went to the Kolchak’s Team. To solve the problem of soil thawing and, as a result, destruction of buildings and structures, the guys suggested using thermal piles for construction on permafrost. The principle of operation of the thermal piles is based on the change in the density of the liquid or gas when the external temperature changes. Screwing the pile into the ground does not violate its structure. When using this technology, the temperature of the soil surrounding the pile is stabilized, heat is removed and the soil is frozen in the lower part of the installation. Also the Kolchak’s Team proposed introducing automated construction and industrial monitoring of the environment. This will make it possible to select the optimal geographic location for the construction of new buildings, to simulate possible emergencies related to the climate change.
The undisputed winner was the Kommuna team. The guys proposed a set of solutions that would save up to 43 percent of construction costs and reduce energy losses up to seven percent. This is possible when using sandwich panels with a heater and a fireproof coating for facing buildings and thermal insulation polystyrene foam for thermal insulation of buildings, heating mains, gas pipelines. And the creation of a digital twin of buildings will allow monitoring and forecasting the condition of the building. Thermal stabilization of the soil will help in the construction of new buildings. The guys identified two main categories of factors influencing the preservation of permafrost and the construction of new buildings: climatic and legislative. The team also touched upon another global problem – the lack of fresh water. To solve it, they proposed using new technologies for the disposal of industrial waste, which will allow them to convert them into drinking water and energy.
The experts highly appreciated the work of the young specialists, the level of their training and the originality of the solutions to the selected problems.
“It was interesting to evaluate the work of the guys, and, as an expert, I can say that the level of the solutions presented was really very high”, says the head of the Project Control and Reporting Department of the Skalisty Mine Development Directorate Elena Pergament. “I was surprised and pleased. These participants have high potential”.
The Conquerors of the North business game is over, the winners will receive good prizes and gifts. Those who lacked a little to gain the victory were also awarded. The participants who completed 80 percent of the course or more were placed on priority lists for internship.
Recall that the Conquerors of the North educational project was launched in Norilsk in 2015, and in 2016 the Kola Polar Region joined it. The success of the project was noted at the federal level – in the spring of 2016 it became the winner of the All-Russian Graduate Awards in the Best program for working with students category.
Text: Ekaterina Maximova, Photo: editor