Paton Borys Evgenovich

Boris E. Paton (27.11.1918, Kyiv - 19.08.2020, Kyiv) - an outstanding scientist in the field of welding, metallurgy and metal technology, the organizer of science, state and public figure. President of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (since 1962), Director of the Institute of Electric Welding EO Paton of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (since 1953). Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (1958), a foreign member of the academies of sciences of several countries. Winner of the Lenin (1957) and Stalin Prize (1950), State Prize of Ukraine in Science and Technology (2004), Honored Worker of Science and Technology of the Ukrainian SSR (1968), twice Hero of Socialist Labor (1969, 1978), Hero of Ukraine (1998). Student of the Kyiv Industrial (Polytechnic) Institute from 1936-1941.

For someone who has come to Kyiv from the other city it is not difficult to find the Electric Welding Institute: to do this they just have to ask any of the passersby. Almost each of them will ask: “To Paton Institute?” and then tell in detail how and by what to get there. At the same time, few of them will probably be even nearly related to welding or to technics in general. Some will even not know why the institution is named after Paton – in honour to the founder, Evgeny Oscarovich Paton, or to Borys Evgenovich Paton, who has been the constant director of the institute for 55 years. That very Borys Paton, who, simultaneously, has been the head of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine for 6 years now. For most of the citizens of Kyiv today the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Electric Welding Institute, in other words Paton Institute, is, to some extent, an embodiment of a real scientific institution. In the meanwhile, for many of them its director and the president of the Academy of Sciences is an example of a true scientist and a science coordinator.

It is significant, that even his birthday coincides with the day and the year of the foundation of the Academy. So, this year, on the 27th of October all Ukrainian scientific community will celebrate the double anniversary – ninety’s birthday of the National Academy and its president, Borys Evgenovich Paton.

In fact, Borys Paton spent his childhood within the precincts of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, as he was born in the family of one of its the most famous lecturers, worldwide known scientist and engineer, professor Evgeny Oscarovich Paton. They lived in the house for teaching staff. However, the very first months of the future Academy president’s life fell on very troubling times for our country. At that time Ukraine burned in flames of a civil war. But its long-awaited ending did not bring any stability to the country anyway. The way of living changed itself. So, naturally, the Institute also changed substantially. Besides, the changes were not only in the way of new students’ enrolment, the studying process organisation or institute management methods, but also in the mode of life. Paton family experienced common for those times “compression”, and a neighbour was lodged to the professor’s flat. That neighbour was the KPI lecturer, future academician, outstanding Ukrainian mathematician Mykhailo Kravchuk. He returned to Kyiv from a little village Savarka, Boguslav district, where he had been brought to by the winds of the war, and plunged into beloved science. So this is how they had lived together until the day when they moved in one of the first Kyiv housing cooperatives, situated at the corner of Liuteranska and Bankova streets. There they received separate flats.

Surely, from his first years on Borys Paton lived in the atmosphere of a specific creativity, the technical one, which requires some special discipline and commitment from those devoted to it. This atmosphere defined his circle of interests in advance. Of course, after finishing school there occurred no particular doubts where to study. The only variant was Kyiv Industrial Institute (this was the name of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute from 1934 to 1944). During the studying the circle of interests of the future academician was defined once and for all. They were connected to the research of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences Electric Welding Laboratory, founded and headed by Evgeny Paton. In 1934 on the basis of this laboratory an institute was established, now known as the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Electric Welding Institute named after Evgeny Paton. Eventually the institute has become Borys Paton’s second home.

The graduation from the institute coincided in time with the beginning of the war. According to the distribution Borys Paton left for the city of Gorkiy, where he worked as an engineer at an electrotechnical laboratory at the plant “Krasnoe Coromovo”. But in 1942 he was transferred to Nizhny Tagil, where the Electric Welding Institute was evacuated to. The institute was made responsible for technological supply of the armored fighting vehicles production, particularly well-known T-34, the best of the tanks of Great Patriotic War. Borys Paton took an active part in designing and introduction of the automatic submerged-arc welding, a technological innovation, which was destined to changed cardinally all the technological cycle.

Borys Paton was charged to design an electrical circuit for new automatic welding heads. Within it there should have been realized the phenomenon of self-regulation of electrode melting in submerged-arc welding, discovered in 1942. The young engineer finished the task brilliantly. He proposed a convenient and safe construction, which not only made it possible to produce such heads under conditions of ordinary machine shops, but also required no special personnel trainings for its operation. The thing is, these devices played a paramount role in increasing the volume of tanks production. There were automatic welding machines developed, due to which the tanks production started proceeding on the conveyor system. It is significant, that the Soviet Union was the only country which made use of automatic submerged-arc welding in tank industry. Only during the last years of the war this method started being mastered while producing tank hulls and self-propelled artillery mounting in the USA. And in 1943 Borys Paton was decorated with his first order, the Order of the Badge of Honor.

After returning to Kyiv in 1945 Borys Paton defended the dissertation for the academic degree of candidate of technical sciences on the thesis “The analysis of the work of welding heads and the methods of their feeding while submerged arc welding”. Our city and the entire country began reviving, so every scientific research found its application in practice. Borys Evgenovich headed one of the Institute’s departments and continued his work on the use of welding processes, the peaceful one by then. Then started the research related to half-automatic and automatic submerged-arc welding, development of theoretical bases of arc welding automated and half-automated machines and welding power supplies creation, conditions of arc duration and its regulation, problems of welding processes control etc. In 1950 he became the assistant director of the Electric Welding Institute; in 1952 he successfully defended his Doctor of Philosophy on the thesis “The research of the conditions of welding arc stability and its regulation”. In 1953, after Evgen Paton’s death, he was entrusted to head the Institute, founded by his father.

In the early 50th the scientific and technological revolution grew faster in Ukraine, but the most important thing was, that the authorities were paying close attention to the problems of science and technology development. Under those new conditions the possibilities for their development were rather quickly found by research organizations and groups which had already had particular groundwork about their works’ implementation into real economy.

In Ukraine E.O. Paton Electric Welding Institute came to the fore. Some of its developments had literary changed industrial workers’ attitude to the welding potentialities. Technological innovations introduced by the Institute were extremely appreciated in industry. Furthermore, in the second half of the 50th the Institute started producing more and more new progressive items which were adopted into industries straight from the workshops. Under the leadership of Borys Paton and with his direct participation there started wide fundamental research, that has then become the basis for developing and adopting of many of the welding methods, including half-automatic, gas-shielded, electroslag, plasma ones etc. Within the briefest period of time new welding methods were elaborated, operating practices were studied, numerous prototypes of the new generation of the industrial welding machinery were developed. There were studied the phenomena and the processes which occur when the current flows through different surroundings and under different circumstances. Significant results of the study were the formation of a new prospective branch of metallurgy, special electrometallurgy, which is the combination of such methods of fine metals obtaining as electroslag, electron-beam and arc-plasmous remelting. Due to this getting especially clear special-property alloys and steels has become possible. There were offered the challenges for developing up-to-date structural and functional materials, which were in great demand at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of 21st century. The Institute grew into a powerful scientific and technical complex. Its structure included research institute itself, engineering and design departments and departments for experimental research, research plants, and also later, during the last decades, innovation organizations, centers for science and engineering, for study and attestation. Moreover, the obligations of the USSR main science and research institution on welding and special metallurgy were imposed on the Institute.

In 1962 a 43-years-old academician Paton was elected to be the president of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. That was the start of the new period in its history, which later brought Ukrainian science to the foreground of the world science. Moreover, with the lapse of time the Academy has become kind of a visiting card of Ukraine. The Academy headed for the extensive cooperation of the academic institutions with the national economy and military-defense enterprises. This boosted the economy, what, in turn, favoured the development of science. Without any hesitation Ukrainian scientists were solving problems, which hindered the development of entire branches, in solely scientific, comprehensive way. And consequently, the practitioners got not just practical recommendations, but absolutely new concepts, inventions and technologies. During those years there were significant deepening ties between academic institutions and institutes of higher education, the KPI and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in the first place.

In this, one of the leaders still remained the Electric Welding Institute, where with its director’s direct participation and on the basis of fundamental research there were developed the technologies of industrial methods of header pipeline welding, large-size tanks for oil storage, blast-furnace jackets, high-rise tower-shaped constructions, sea crafts, power equipment etc. Academicians B.E. Paton and S.P. Korolyov suggested a bold idea of welding use in the Space, which was later successfully realized in the Institute’s developments. The equipment constructed in the Institute made it possible for the spacemen V. Kubasov and G. Shonin to conduct an orbital flight welding experiment for the first time in the world. This was the start of space technology. Some time later academician B.E. Paton headed the pioneer research of electronic beam, arc plasma and laser usage for metal welding and special metallurgy.

That was impossible to overestimate the role of the Academy and its president in the life of the state and society, in science and education progress, in strengthening defence capacity and the republic’s national economy, and this fact was clearly understood by its leaders. The striking example of that is an incident which is still retold with a smile in academic circles. Borys Evgenovich was capable of solving problems with authorities with no worry, but once there has arisen a dispute between him and one of the secretaries of the Central Committee of CPU. Once the first secretary of the CC, who was in fact the first person in the republic at that time, got to know about it, he said: “I am able to find a new secretary, but where will I find another Paton?” And that was the closed issue.

Incidentally, even these days someone has accused him of this very capability of negotiating with authorities, convincing them of the reasonability of making decision he and, what is more important, the Academy needed. But most of his colleagues believed then and still do, that in such a policy there has always been well considered tactics which was far from short-termed political and, all the more, personal motives; and that only due to his ability to find wise compromises it became possible later on to save the Academy while the most difficult periods for the state and the society. In addition, if an issue was connected to the things of principle, Paton made no concessions. Let us just think of the fact, that in summer 1981 he sent to the bodies of power a scientific analytical note “About the activities concerning further increase in work on evaluation and prediction of environment pollution genetic consequences in the Ukrainian SSR”, and in autumn of the same year on the Ukrainian Government meeting he made a report about possible negative ecological and socio-economic consequences of building and operation of the nuclear power plants, and Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the first place, on the territory of Ukraine. Such opinion denied absolutely the official point of view on nuclear power engineering and its prospective. They could cause troubles to those who follow them openly. Nevertheless Paton did not keep silent, though no one wanted to listen to him. In several years, unfortunately, the correctness of his words was tragically confirmed…

The last decades have become a strength test for Ukrainian science. And the country stood it. And mostly because of organizational innovations, suggested and approved by B. Paton and headed by his team. He was the first to understand, that under modern conditions science can live and efficiently work only if it learns to sell its projects to those who need it. That is why he suggested setting up academic institutes departments which would be able to provide advancing the results of the research from the fundamental concept to engineering development, and further to the research example and up to suggesting it to the industry. As expected, headed by B. Paton the National Academy of Sciences scientific and technical complex “E.O. Paton Electric Welding Institute” was one of the first institutions to work according to the scheme.

Passing to the innovational economics development scheme favoured the activization of the scientific activity and commercial realization of its results. On B. Paton’s initiative started the development of new innovative structures like scientific-engineering centres and industrial parks.

And even during the last decade academician B.E. Paton proceeds with active creative search. In particular, he suggested and headed large-scale research of welding technology usage in medical surgical practice. Under his guidance the staff of the Institute and medical scientists invented together a new method of joining human and animal soft tissues using welding. Nowadays this technology is becoming more and more widespread in surgery. Due to the many of successful operations performed using welding, the number is becoming close to thousand.
The president of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine B.E. Paton always takes care of scientific engineering youth, works on attraction of young boys and girls to science, and does not forget about their financial support and living conditions improvement. For this purpose the Academy promotes targeted youth projects, builds and rebuilds hostels for the postgraduate students.

It should be mentioned, the ting that helps Borys Evgenovich stand the great load of scientific, organizational and social work is his good shape. During the years of his life he seriously went into badminton, tennis, water skiing and swimming. Even today he regularly goes to the pool, where he swims rather long distance twice a week.
Borys Evgenovich Paton is an author and co-author of more than 720 inventions (500 foreign patents), more than 1200 various published works, 20 scientific monographs… He is an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine today), the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (the Russian Academy of Sciences today), the European Academy, the International Academy of Sciences, Industry, Education and Arts of California (the USA), the National Academy of Applied Sciences of RF, Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after K.E. Tsiolkovsky, the Petrovska Academy of Arts and Sciences… a foreign member on the National Academies of Sciences of Bulgary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences… twice the Hero of Socialist Labour, Hero of Ukraine (by the way, the first man to receive the title), the laureate of numerous prizes. It is also worth mentioning, he is an honorary doctor of NTUU “KPI”.

However, the full list of Borys Paton’s merits, titles and prizes will take far more than a page. But his main one is most probably the people’s acknowledgment. According to the social study, held in January 2007 by the consortium “Management consulting group”, our compatriots consider Borys Paton to be the most famous Ukrainian scientist and, in fact, the symbol of Ukrainian science.

V.V. Yankovy, D.L. Stefanovich