FROM A RADIO HAM’S GROUP TO NANO-ENGINEERING
During our conversation, the 53-year-old Professor revealed that he’d been very lucky: there had always been people he wanted to study under around him. His dad, school teachers, Viktor Soifer who does not need introductions...
– I’m from Kuibyshev. The choice of the institute was predefined among other things with the fact that my sister (who is ten years older than me) studied in the Kuibyshev Aviation Institute (KuAI) and her fellow students (and later — her colleagues) often visited us. There was some aerospace spirit at our house. No doubt, my Father had a great influence — he was a school teacher and a man of extensive technical knowledge. He was interested in aviation and engineering, he read a lot, he had so many interests — from photography to radio electronics. It’s no surprise I joined the school radio ham’s group.
In the end of 1980s Vladimir didn’t even dream to become a lecturer. People entered KuAI for other reasons. They dreamt of space, of infinite possibilities for humans, of making their own engineering products. The institute was specializing in so-called ‘saucepans’ (spacecrafts). The aerospace industry was rightfully considered the most high-technology and developed rapidly. And Kuibyshev enterprises often worked to be ahead of the global level...
– As a teacher, my Father was quite strict, but also always regardful and polite with his pupils. When he was young, he worked hard at a plant, then he was called to the district committee and told to start a career of a handicraft teacher in school. The plants in Bezymyanka needed the work force desperately. So, Father became a teacher and at the same time received another degree — as a teacher of Russian Language and Literature. His lessons were always notably authentic. He is capable of almost everything: he can make furniture, repair a TV set and establish a new set-up. It’s very important. When someone who can’t do anything tries to teach children, they feel it, they are never fooled.
It’s the same with the students... Just like Makarenko said: you can tell the child anything, but, if they see that you don’t know how to do your job, they will never respect you. The most effective approach to education is when students hear about micro and nano technologies from the person who has just exited the laboratory, — Head of the Department is sure. — As for another dad’s hobby, Russian Literature, he masterfully and subtly got my sister and me used to reading. We came home, and there was a new book waiting for us in the right place...
LEARN TO LEARN
– I still feel grateful to a whole lot of school teachers. I still speak to my Math teacher, Alfia Zofarovna Solovyova. Aside from exact sciences, I liked many other subjects — Literature, History... I finished school summa cum laude. I got into university taking one exam only — in Mathematics. I’m grateful to the teachers for their manner of teaching. I think, it’s impossible to make someone study forcefully; one should provide an opportunity and help learn to learn. I tell my students: your task is to be proactive, to ‘beat’ as much knowledge as possible from us, your lecturers, — Paveliev says.
His future wife was his fellow student, they met ‘in a potato field’, as the first month and a half of their first term in the Institute was spent on potato digging.
– We mostly shared the worldview, she was ‘my’ person. She was the first girl I could have exciting discussions about military aerotechnics. We had amazing lecturers, interesting people, including my future research advisor Viktor Aleksandrovich Soifer. We were majoring in Applied Mathematics — it was a top requested field at the time in our country. And we were told — it might sound quite unexpected now — that those of us that wouldn’t be able to work with Applied Math would become programmers, — Professor recalls. — There was another approach to programming then, a more instrumental one. The alumni with a degree in Applied Math went to the enterprises to solve certain applied tasks. There were several specialist areas. CAE systems — computer-aided engineering systems — was the main one. I chose computer optics though. It was taught by Viktor Aleksandrovich Soifer.
THE FIRST SCHOLARSHIP WAS SPENT ON INTERNSHIP
Being a capable student Paveliev worked as a technician in the Samara branch of the Central Design Bureau of Unique Instrumentation Engineering of RAS (now — IPSI, RAS) established by V.A. Soifer, and after graduation in 1993 worked there as an engineer already. Almost straight after graduation he got into the postgraduate program of SSAU and became a Junior Researcher. In mid-1990s, in such a difficult period for the country one could do calculations for a device, but there was neither required equipment nor expendable materials to make it. The work of a young postgraduate student was noted with a Scholarship of the President of Russia which allowed him going to Germany for internship, as there were good technological and experimental facilities there. By the way, during his internship in the doctorate school of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena Vladimir met some German colleagues and established good relations with them. Later, they would work together for about twenty years in the framework of joint projects.
– The first thing I realized in Germany was that we had been taught well. The second thing was that in the Institute where I worked only visiting scientists, including the Russians, or those who were supposed to go to the conference next day could be found after 6 pm. Such a measured and mild tempo. We don’t work like that, — Vladimir Sergeevich revealed.
Since 1997, Paveliev combined his research work with a position of a lecturer in the Samara University. In 2004, he defended his doctorate thesis in SSAU with a degree in Optics presenting the topic closely connected with making microoptical elements to solve technological and telecommunicational tasks. It’s been Paveliev’s field of activity till the present day. Since 2007, he serves as a Head of now established Department of Nanoengineering.
During our conversation Vladimir Sergeevich demonstrated one of his inventions (created together with his Samara colleagues and specialists from the Novosibirsk Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics) on his palm! It was a THz optical element to form a powerful rotating beam. It can be potentially applied to transmit signals simultaneously in one beam through various channels which will allow increasing the informational capacity of new telecommunication systems. That is, it is about brand new telecommunications.
– They look spectacular — there are silicon and diamond versions. One graduate student told me: “Vladimir Sergeevich, you experience professional deformation. You look at a diffraction micropattern with so much tenderness!” Professor recalls. — Sure, our inventions are like children for many ‘parents’, including calculationalists, technologists and other specialists.
TO SERVE THE CAUSE IS A REWARD
Many years ago, Vladimir with his colleagues received a national award, and TV-reporters asked them about hobbies among other things. At the time, the scientist said that his hobby and his work were the same. It’s still like that. Also, he would like to consider reading one of his hobbies, but doesn’t have enough free time. A lot of efforts are put into writing academic papers — Paveliev has published about three hundred. He also write reviews and works as a visiting editor for specialized international academic journals. In 2017, Vladimir Sergeevich gave lectures in Jamia Millia Islamia, a university in New Delhi, India. He’s closely connected with the Indian academic community due to personal ties and promising projects.
Vladimir Sergeevich finds local motivated students endearing: they try to catch their lecturer after the class to ask some more questions. However, all these things — his work at the Department, academic researches, teaching — is considered serving his cause.
– At our department, one professor has a quote hung upon his table: “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life...” — the scientist smiled when asked about him being in demand and booked with work. — The researches brace me up. It’s not just about making money, but also about implementing projects to give the team a chance to get new results.
A reward for Paveliev is not only new projects for the research team, but also the fact that his former students and graduate students work for leading Russian research institutes and specialized companies (Mikron JSC, Scientific Research Institute Ekran JSC, SRC Progress and so on).
– There are various projects. Sometimes they are aimed at creating a certain device ordered by a partner company. However, when making a prototype in the framework of research, we fully recognize that it can be used to solve a practical task, though not tomorrow and not by us. And it’s fine; anyway, some stock needs to be made with a focus on its further application, Vladimir Paveliev assures.
Anastasia Rymzhina, graduate student of the Department of Nanoengineering:
– I got to the experimental group, and started my scientific work almost simultaneously with academic courses. Owing to Vladimir Sergeevich, I started working with Nishant Tripati, an Indian employee of the Samara University, while getting my Bachelor degree. He plotted a life-changing vector for me. Vladimir Sergeevich always guides me with academic texts, gives competent commentaries, explains why something should be written one way or another. He also guides my scientific work constantly encouraging to take part in conferences and projects. He can suddenly come into the room saying he has a new idea about how to apply the photodetectors we develop; suggests ideas for experiments. And talking to representatives of companies he thinks where our developments can be used. Collaboration with India motivates as well, the tempo is so high. If you work well, there are even more demands for you. And when you see high performance of your colleagues, you want to do more yourself. Vladimir Sergeevich sets the pace, of course.
Dmitry Golovashkin, Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Physics, Professor, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences:
– Vladimir Sergeevich has already brought up a whole lot of Master’s and postgraduate students. It’s a common work to give lectures to the students, to run their classes. When it comes to Master’s and postgraduate students though, those that conduct researches under your guidance, it’s not about studies, it’s about upbringing. It’s about how you teach rather than what you teach. Knowledge can be found in textbooks and other sources, while the goal of higher education is not to transfer knowledge as such, but to build a certain community based on the cultural framework. The main goal of the mentor is not just to transfer knowledge; during this knowledge transfer the main thing is the transfer of the Russian academic culture. And Vladimir Sergeevich is great at it. He brings up researchers, lecturers, those who will once stand at the lecturing desk to convey the same message to the students — that’s important. There’s a good Chinese saying: “Students of our students will finish what teachers of our teachers started.” Vladimir Sergeevich is a man who continues traditions.
Text by: Anna Shepeleva