Oleg M. Aleshchenko | History of Computing in Ukraine

Oleg M. Aleshchenko

The outstanding designer of hydroacoustic systems Oleg Mikhailovich Aleshchenko devoted his life to defense projects for the USSR Navy. He proved that even something considered impossible could be created given enough persistence, character, and enthusiasm. Despite the fact that Aleshchenko and his companions worked during the years when hydroacoustic systems were considered an unrealizable concept, they succeeded in launching the hydroacoustic system “Zvezda”(English: Star).

Aleshchenko was born in 1934 in Semenovka township of Chernihiv oblast, in a family of doctors. All of his close relatives (brothers, sisters, and their children) also became doctors. Only Aleshchenko broke the family tradition by entering a technical college. In 1956, he graduated from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute with a degree in hydroacoustics and was placed on a job at the recently established Scientific Research Institute (SRI) of Hydrodevices. Little did he know that this job would eventually grow into his whole life’s commitment.

At that time, the activities of Kyiv SRI of Hydrodevices had three primary directions: creation of submersible and towed helicopter hydroacoustic stations (HAS), towed ship-based panoramic HAS, and development of positioning systems for aviation – passive and active radio-hydroacoustic buoys, and also stationary autonomous underwater sensor systems.

In 1958, Aleshchenko was appointed as a scientific supervisor of a research project working to create a helicopter HAS. Only a year later he was promoted to chief designer of the research and development project “Oka”, which focused on creating a helicopter HAS with a submersible antenna. In 1964 he successfully defended his Candidate’s Dissertation.

Oleg Mikhailovich was determined to continue working in science, however, he was forced to put aside the Doctor’s Dissertation he wrote in 1972-1973 on creating helicopter hydroacoustic systems. In autumn 1974, the government issued a decree regarding the “Zvezda” program, which ordered the refitting of all USSR Navy ships with new hydroacoustic systems. The SRI of Hydrodevices was appointed as the lead organization for implementation, and Aleshchenko was appointed as a chief designer of the program.

The work Aleshchenko did on the “Zvezda” system fully showcased his remarkable talent as a chief designer. His staff members remember him as a strict and principled manager, but also as a kind-hearted man who fully understood the burden his colleagues were expected to carry. He had a special approach to management, and was able to provide encouragement and discipline without making anyone feel slighted.

Aleshchenko himself claimed that the most important thing for anyone responsible for designing new technology is team-building. “If someone asked me to name the most important thing I’d ever achieved in my life, I would answer - building, or to be more specific the participation in the process of building an efficient, selfless, professionally trained, work-loving team, to whom I would trust my back without hesitation. I always had an excellent team. I began to take notice of people while they were still in the early stages of their predoctorate studies, and made attempts to get them interested in our work”, he said.

In 1984, all work on the hydroacoustic system “Zvezda” was completed. The following year, the technology was used in the armament of the USSR Navy and passed on serial production . The designers of the system O.M. Aleshchenko and Y.V. Burau received the USSR State Prize.

The science had to wait for another six years for Oleg Aleshchenko’s brilliant defence of his Doctor’s Dissertation at the Scientific Council of the Institute of Cybernetics of the National Academy of Sciences of the Ukraine. However, the topic was different this time; the dissertation was on theoretical and practical aspects of development and creation of ship-based digital hydroacoustic systems.

After retirement, Aleshchenko dedicated his time to training new specialists. As an educator, he earned the authority and love of his colleagues through generously sharing his vast practical experience in the Information Technology sphere.

The chief constructor of “Zvezda” died on January 02, 2007.