NTI Contest for University Students

The NTI Contest invites undergraduates of technical majors to participate in competitions in six sections:


Applications are accepted until March 2019.

The NTI Contest is now open to university students, but it sticks to the same main principles:

  • Real problems to solve;
  • Teamwork;
  • Practical experience;
  • Promising opportunities.

The student track of the NTI Contest is held in three stages:

  • December-January — participants send applications and team up;
  • January-February — online Selection stage;
  • March-May — Final stages at university venues.

Participants can select all six sections and try completely new directions.

After the online Selection stage, the best student teams are welcomed at the university venues for the offline Finals during which they will solve a practical problem.

Winners, who are students of final courses, will be able to enter Master’s Programs of their universities if the universities partner with the student track of the NTI Contest.

Winners, who are freshmen, will get interesting offers and internships from section designers.

To join the Master’s Programs, the winners and runners-up of the student track will have to go through an additional individual qualification.


Aerospace Systems

The NTI Contest section «Space Systems Engineering» is all about exploring space and distant planets. In the Second and Third stages, participants will be asked to simulate the search for settlement land on other planets, analyze and class liquids on distant planets, and control an interplanetary rover. The section meets the global challenges of the NTI AeroNet market and requests for research in the development of aircraft and space systems. Problems to be solved are relevant to the development of Russian aerospace industry and are consistent with the Federal Space Program of the Roscosmos State Corporation on Space Exploration.

Cluster: Technics.

Each team consists of three to four students.

Suggested Team Organization: Builder, Electronic Circuit Designer, Programmer (microcontrollers), Programmer (Python/ROS), Rover Operator

Designers: Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology

Section co-organizers and partners: Roscosmos, Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, Scientific and Production Association named after S.A. Lavochkin, Voltbro.


By solving the problems of the selection stage, the team proves that it has the necessary skills for the section.

One of the most difficult and complex competences is related to basic skills, such as working with Linux and Robot Operation System (ROS) and the Arduino platform. Also, to solve the problem, the team should be able to write scripts using high-level programming language Python.

For completion of the Selection stage tasks, Linux distribution (Ubuntu is recommended) and Arduino microcontroller are required.

Completed tasks (code) are sent to organizers for assessment.


The problem of the final stage simulates the landing of a research rover on another planet:  after the «landing» of a lander module at an unknown location (the «planet» is a test range, the rover is assembled from a builder by the team), participants need to undock from the lander module and land on the surface of the «planet».

Rover should use video data to identify its approximate location by map and landmarks, map out a program of movement to the area of liquid search, get itself to the given point, find and analyze liquid, and send the obtained data to the Mission Control Center.


Panel interview.

English exam: TOEFL ITP


The Skoltech Space Center will invite students from years 1-3 on a summer internship to one of the laboratories of the Center.


Master’s Program: Space Engineering Systems

A final year student, the winner of the student track at the NTI Contest, upon successful tests (English and interview), will be able to study free of charge in the Skoltech Master’s Program “Space engineering systems” (only this Program).


The following knowledge and skills are required to succeed in this section:

  • Mobile Robotics
  • Knowledge and application of Ohm’s Law
  • Soldering
  • Basic mechanics
  • Teamwork
  • Work with sensors (reading the documentation)
  • Creating algorithms
  • Linux
  • Computer programming (in Arduino IDE environment, C++, Python)
  • Basics of Robot Operating System
  • Basic knowledge of Autodesk Inventor




Should you have any questions, contact us: An.Ilina@skoltech.ru


The section is about the mathematical, systemic, and applied aspects of virtual and augmented reality technologies. A new wave of VR/AR development is coming right now: virtual reality enters the mass markets and is used in various areas of life and industry.

«Development of Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications» section of the NTI Contest allows participants to be aware of emerging jobs, to develop future-proof skills, to create startups, and to develop their commercial projects.

Cluster: Information.

Each team consists of three to four students.

Required skills and competencies:  programming, VR/AR hardware and software systems, image recognition.

Designers: Far Eastern Federal University.

Section co-organizers and partners: NTI Center for Neurotechnologies and Virtual and Augmented Reality Technologies.


Participants solve problems in the following areas: computational geometry, algorithms, unity, image recognition, and others.


Section tasks will focus on the development of virtual and augmented reality applications, the mathematical base of these technologies, 3D design, pattern recognition, and related programming areas.


To be specified.


Additional points to enter the Master’s Program.



Intellectual Robotic Systems section is about «smart» devices that increasingly surround us in our daily life.

  • How do self-driving cars decide which route is better to avoid traffic congestion in a large city?
  • What should be done to reliably transmit data from different infrastructure components in a megalopolis and come to a single solution of given problems in multi-agent systems?
  • What input data determines the decision of a robot loader on the further stages of loading operations in a large logistics terminal?
  • What algorithms allow the rescue robot to effectively explore the blockages in conditions when nothing is known about the structure of these blockages?
  • How difficult is it to calculate the movement of each manipulator nod that is transporting car body parts of different configurations from one conveyor to another at a car factory?

These are the questions that the participants of the section will face while solving the problems of the Contest.

Cluster: Technics.

Each team consists of three students.

Required skills and competencies: 

  • designing and assembling a mobile robot for a specific task;
  • robot simulation and debugging of the control algorithm on the model;
  • analog sensor calibration;
  • collecting sensor values and analyzing the information received to optimize the control algorithm;
  • adaptation of the algorithm developed for a simulator to work on a real device;
  • achieving operational stability and fault tolerance of a robotic device;
  • programming a TRIK controller;
  • programming and debugging a universal control device (JavaScript) to solve a specific problem;
  • mechanical camcorder calibration to solve computer vision problems;
  • commuting several TRIK controllers into a single network;
  • solving the problems of network interaction of several TRIK controllers;
    the use of an iterative design process;
  • the use of source code versioning systems for software development in a team.

Designers: Innopolis.

Section co-organizers and partners: NTI National Competence Center in Robotics and Mechatronics.


The first part of the Selection stage is testing in blocks:

  • Physics: kinematics, statics, dynamics.
  • Mathematics: matrix calculations, differential equations, derivatives of complex functions.
  • Statistics: statistical data processing; calculation of mathematical expectation, the variance of the median for one and several data sets, linear regression.
  • Programming:  mathematical logic, operations with binary and hexadecimal numbers, combinatorial problem solving, sorting algorithms, data structures, recursion and dynamic programming.
  • Control Theory: transfer functions, state space, stability, structural transformations of systems, regulators.
  • Robotics: general concepts, coordinate system transformations, kinematics.

Six test blocks on the subjects «Mathematics» (20 questions), «Statistics» (10 questions), «Programming» (10 questions), «Control Theory» (15 questions), «Physics» (15 questions), «Robotics» (15 questions).

The second part of the Selection stage is solving problems.


Five teams will enter the Finals. Each of them will solve one of the given problems. The team led by a mentor solves a problem on a simulator. Then, the team tries to solve the problem using a real case.

Cable robots control

Cable robots are robots of parallel structure that have flexible connections (ropes) to control the position of the operation element. This structure allows for easy scaling the robot’s size. Such robots are used for assembling and painting large-sized constructions and 3D- printing of large objects, as well as in simulators, including motion simulators, exercise machines, and other spheres. The most relevant current challenges are a study of dynamics and optimization of directional control laws with allowance for slacking cables, the mechanisms flexibility and robot’s drills, and the presence of obstacles in the robot’s working area. Developing methods for calibrating the control system, improving stability, and diminishing oscillations of the robot’s operation element is also still needed.

Creating an itinerary using datasets from a quadcopter

The task can be roughly described as follows: a quadcopter, having taken off automatically from a special box on a truck roof, should go in the direction of an autonomous truck and create an accurate map of the area. Then it should return and automatically land on a small platform on the roof of a moving truck.

Several issues emerge when addressing the problem of creating an itinerary using data from the air:

  • How to evaluate the truck’s floatation on this or that surface and what surface to choose as a final one;
  • How to choose the direction of examining space in front of the truck; for example, if there is a forest which the truck could not pass through, then exploring this forest makes no sense;
  • How do you solve the task without expensive sensors? How do you simplify and cheapen the device? For example, is it possible to do mapping with only a camera?

There are also many questions related to landing and charging/changing of the batteries:

  • How to land on a moving truck with maximal accuracy?
  • What channels of communication between the vehicle and the quadcopter should be chosen for data exchange?
  • How to change the battery / charge the copter in the box on the car roof?

The industrial manipulator control

  1. Locating robot’s tool position in space knowing the parameters of the robot and the angles of rotation of its joints (Solving the direct problem of kinematics).
  2. Determining the required angle of rotation of each robot’s joint to achieve the desired position of the robot’s tool (Solving the inverse problem of kinematics).

Further on, additional problems associated with the interaction of a man and a robot could emerge. They could also be related to the control of a robot based on its dynamic model.

  • Controlling the robot with the feedback through its camera image.
  • Developing behavioral scenarios for collaborative robots.

Complex trajectories in 3D printing

The task is to create software (a slicer) for printing parts on a five-axis printer. The output is a gcode-file containing a control program for making a part on a printer. The main idea is to process the following types of parts without any support:

  1. for bodies with a deviation from the vertical axis of the printer at an angle of less than 90 degrees;
  2. for tunnel-bridge type parts with two desktop supports;
  3. for bodies of rotation with a deviation angle from the vertical axis of the printer at an angle of less than 90 degrees.

In this task, the slicer base and viewer are almost ready to display the result. The main task is to expand the applicability and verify the written algorithms, as well as maybe test some new ones. The main difficulty is that the variability of algorithms dramatically increases when we add two extra axes.

Control of an anthropomorphic robot in a simulation

At this stage, the base that allows testing different control algorithms is implemented. Kinematics is implemented for legs. The robot in the simulator is close to the real one (so far, this applies to legs only). The main difficulty is to control it in real (not ideal) conditions, when there are network delays and nonlinear engine friction and, despite all this, we need to solve the problem accurately. Static walking is implemented to a certain extent; it is possible to focus on walking in dynamics, for example.



  • high performance in mathematics;
  • knowledge of Physics and Computer Science (programming), statistics, and algorithms at a high level;
  • basic knowledge of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and automatic control theory;
  • understanding of what a robot is and what the fields of robotics are;
  • working experience with technical systems;
  • English proficiency: intermediate or above.

Selection stage:

  • interview with representatives of the «Robotics» program;
  • English test on Listening and Reading (similar to IELTS).


Three best candidates will be invited to the Summer Project School in Robotics at Innopolis University in 2019 (education, meals, and accommodation are covered), based on the individual selection results.


Master’s Program at the Innopolis University 09.04.01 «Computer Science and Computer Engineering.»

Up to three best students, based on the individual selection results, will receive a grant for studying at Master’s Program «Robotics» at the Innopolis University. The grant covers the cost of tuition and a monthly scholarship of RUB 18,000 to RUB 42,000 per month depending on academic performance.



Applied Artificial Intelligence section focuses on creating and using computer systems that provide independent data processing and decision-making by reproducing conscious human activity while solving intellectual and creative problems in response to uncertainty and information incompleteness in various subject areas. In general, Applied Artificial Intelligence technologies are designed for:

  • saving time for men by performing routine actions, replacing or diminishing the load that rests on the operator in man-machine systems;
  • effective management of complex objects and processes in the context of limited time and (or) resources, including the situations of critical operation modes;
  • constructing digital interactive information technology space, organizing people and machines into thinking communication environments;
  • efficient processing of non-trivially formalizable information in large amount, including the automation of the acquisition, replication and application of new knowledge in various subject areas.

Cluster: Technics.

Each team consists of two to five students.

Designers: ITMO University (Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics University)

Section co-organizers and partners: National Center for Cognitive Development of the ITMO University (Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics University)


Two blocks: theoretical and practical. The theoretical block assumes ten complex questions with multiple correct answers. The practical block includes two coding tasks.

Applied Artificial Intelligence systems:

  • natural language processing (thematic modeling, TF-IDF, determining the mood of a text, underlining the main semantic entities);
  • machine translation;
  • expert systems, design and analyses of semantic networks;
  • pattern recognition;
  • search for solutions on data (machine learning, neural networks).


Interdisciplinary group project in AI solutions development for decision-making support.

The team should develop a project in the general field of «eSociety.» The project will imply case studies in the following areas:

  1. Knowledge-Based systems, such as, for example, Rule-Based Systems;
  2. Data-Based Systems, including systems which use machine learning methods for automatic knowledge extraction;
  3. Simulation-Based Systems;
  4. Systems using the «human intellectual capital.»



  • Understanding of standard structures and algorithms, C++ / C# / Java programming skills.
  • Ability to apply modern mathematical packages and languages for data processing (Python / R / MathCAD / MatLab).
  • English proficiency: Upper-Intermediate or above (IELTS > 6.5 / TOEFL IBT > 90).
  • Curriculum Vitae (in Russian and English), motivation letter and two recommendation letters, portfolio and/or a list of publications will be advantages for a candidate.


Winners will get a paid summer internship for two to three months at the following Institutions of ITMO University: Institute of Design and Urban Studies (http://idu.ifmo.ru/), eScience Research Institute (http://escience.ifmo.ru/). They will also participate in real international scientific projects.


On winners’ request, the highest grade in entrance exams (100 points) will be assigned if the National Student Contest they participated in meets the fields of study of the following ITMO Master’s Programs:

  • 04.02 Applied Mathematics and Informatics
    Big Data and Machine Learning
  • 04.02 Information Systems and Technologies
    Digital Healthcare
  • 04.03 Applied Informatics
    Digital Technologies for a Smart City
  • 04.02 Infocommunication Technologies and Communication Systems
    Financial Technologies of Big Data
  • 04.07 Knowledge-Based Technologies and Economy of Innovations
    Applied Urban Studies and Informatics


Required skills and competencies:

  • basic knowledge of data processing and data analysis, probability theory and mathematical statistics, machine learning;
  • understanding of logic and methodology of modern artificial intelligence and knowledge engineering;
  • life experience allowing to correlate the logic of implemented decisions with the particularity of subject fields (on the basic level).
  • R, Python or other programming tools allowing to solve practical problems of this section.


«Wireless technologies» section participants build networks and provide communication under demanding conditions. Such conditions may include both an increase in the number of connected devices and the amount of traffic alongside with the increasing requirements for reliability and system performance.

Cluster: Technics.

Each team consists of four to five students.

Suggested Team Organization: 

  • Programmer (noiseless coding for fiber-optical channels).
  • Programmer (robust adaptive control solution programming)
  • Researcher (noise characteristics analysis in channels, choice of the noiseless coding scheme).
  • Engineer (additive manufacturing, test facility mechanics)
  • Analyst (collecting and analyzing subtask solutions made by the specialists mentioned above, discussing and correcting the results to find a more effective solution for the bigger task, organizing teamwork)

Designers: Skoltech, Polus-NT LLC, Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Youth Innovative Art Center «Baikal.»


Solving tasks.


Competitors work in conditions maximally close to the real working conditions of an engineer: limited time to solve the problem, ambiguous technical task, low-speed and noisy communication channels, certain security requirements for encoding data traffic and the lack of a “ready-made solution.”

Every team in the Finals will receive an experimental test facility. This facility includes a satellite with an IR transmitter, a rotating platform where an IR receiver and a satellite high-fidelity model are located. It is supposed that a remote object (an underwater robot or a space apparatus) transmits telemetric data.


Offline individual stage: interview and an English exam.


Internships at Skoltech.


Master’s Program at Skoltech: Information Science and Technology, the Internet of Things track. To join this program, the following entrance exams are required:

  • Interview with a committee of Skoltech professors.
    • Candidates should make a 10-minutes introduction using specialized software, briefly detailing their background, academic and personal achievements. It is necessary to emphasize the accomplished projects.
    • There will be a 15-minute discussion and an interview with an expert committee.
    • The interview will be held in English.

At this stage, the following criteria are assessed using the 5-point grading system:

  • Previous experience and motivation;
  • Presentation: Coherent content and confident speech;
  • General education;
  • High level of English proficiency.
  • English exam TOEFL ITP
    • TOEFL ITP is the test based on TOEFL questions.
    • TOEFL ITP tests consist of three parts, each of them allows to asses certain skills:
      • Listening: assesses the ability to understand spoken English used in universities.
      • Language structure and written language: assesses the ability to understand certain structures and grammar in written English.
      • Reading: assesses the ability to understand authentic academic writing.
    • Duration is 2.5 hours. All the materials for the test are provided.
    • Test score threshold is 450 (out of 677).






Smart City which seemed unreachable has already come true! Pretty soon each of us will feel like a character in a science-fiction movie, where you control your house with only your voice. One important part of such a house will be a ‘smart’ security and fire alarm system, developed by participants of the section.

Wireless fire alarm systems will be the debut topic of the first Smart City student track at the NTI Contest. Participants will be asked to develop a secure and economical fire detection system based on wireless peering signal transmission.

Cluster: Strategy.

Each team consists of four students.

Suggested Team Organization: 

  • Two system architects. The task is to develop the best solution regarding algorithms and structure. This implies the following aspects: choosing types of sensors; choosing the way to place detectors; choosing an algorithm to process and verify the signal; choosing methods to create a signal transmission path, to check if the network and all the detectors work, and to ensure all the other things related to design and specification of the system’s concept.

It is recommended for the system architects to have basic knowledge in the fields of work of other team members (sensor and communication programming, electrical installations). Also, general knowledge of Physics and Maths, QuaD and SWOT analysis can be useful.

  • Two programmers and testers. Their task is to write a program code implementing the developed ideas; to install detectors onto the model; to test and calibrate detectors.


  • Programming of ATMega and Cortex-M microcontrollers group;
  • The ability to read and interpret technical and legal documentation;
  • The level of English allowing to read technical documentation of electronic devices;
  • Program testing and debugging skills;
  • Electronic devices testing and debugging skills;
  • Skills in validating or verifying of processes, algorithms, or programs.

Designers: Tomsk Polytechnic University


At the Selection stage, participants will be asked to do theoretical and practical tasks in the following fields:

Theoretical tests:

  • Formal logic;
  • Fire detectors operation principles;
  • Organization standards of fire alarm systems.

Practical tasks:

  • Algorithmizing;
  • Programming of ATMega and Cortex-M microcontrollers group.


At the Final stage, participants will need to design a safety system for humans and property, that uses modern data processing technologies.

Final task: Developing a wireless peering network of fire detection and alert. [EAS1]

The designed system should:

  • Understand the location of detectors in space and verify that it meets the requirements of the GOST standard (government standard) and guiding documents [EAS2].
  • Allow to remotely monitor and assess the efficiency of detectors and host panels [EAS3].
  • Allow to use different transmission channels for a signal from detectors and to use detectors as repeaters for spacious territories.
  • Guarantee minimum of false alarms, providing the fastest possible reaction to fire.
  • React to fire both on local and global levels. Allow to back-up a localhost.