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February 1 — birthday of Agustín de Betancourt, the organizer and first rector of our University

February 1, 2021, is the 263th anniversary of the birth of the organizer and first rector of our University, Agustín de Betancourt.

Agustín José Pedro del Carmen Domingo de Candelaria de Betancourt y Molina was born in 1758 in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Spain. He received an excellent education in engineering, and in 1808 came to live in Russia.

On November 20 (December 2, Gregorian calendar), 1809, by Manifesto of Emperor Alexander I, our University was established under the name of the Institute of the Transport Engineers Corps, and Agustín de Betancourt was appointed as the rector. The Institute became the foundation for the country’s transport science, had a great influence on the development of the entire system of higher technical education in Russia.

Throughout his whole life, Betancourt strived for discovery and knowledge. His name is associated with the beginning of rapid development of engineering science in Russia. Projects and achievements of this outstanding person in construction of roads and bridges, design and creation of mechanisms for various industries, construction of large engineering and civil complexes, formation of higher technical education deserve great interest and respect.

His most outstanding works and projects include Tver’s protection against Volga floods (1811), Saint Petersburg’s first bridge across Malaya Nevka (1813), Tula and Kazan armouries (1814 and 1817), Moscow Manege (1817), and various others. It was Agustín de Betancourt who instructed Auguste de Montferrand to prepare drafts to rebuild Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. Betancourt supervised the technical part of the construction, calculated the structures, developed projects for mechanisms and scaffolding for lifting the columns of the Cathedral.

Betancourt viewed his engineering work as a way of transforming the human environment through the use of technology, and the creation of machines as technical, artistic and social creativity. Agustín de Betancourt was an outstanding engineer of a planetary scale, he managed to do a lot and left behind a striking legacy, that was and will be admired by many generations.