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Stories of the War in Ukraine: Volodymyr



Over the past week, The Institute has made contact with some of the 400 members of the IEEE Ukraine Section to help them share their experiences during the war. This personal account was written by Volodymyr Pyliavskyi, a senior researcher at the Odessa National Telecommunications Academy in Odessa, Ukraine. “For so long I was planning to take part in IEEE conferences but due to what is happening I can’t,” Pyliavskyi told The Institute. “I am forced to to hide in the basement with my wife, who is 9 months pregnant. I do not wish anyone to experience even a small fraction of the war, I wish peace to the whole world!”

Dear reader, I would like to introduce you to my family. I am Volodymyr, and my wife, my better half, is Vera. We are expecting a baby and this is a very great joy, as well as a very great responsibility.

A man stands holding a book written in Ukrainian

Before the war, every day of my life was filled with things related to my professional activities. In the morning, my working day usually began with a lecture to students at the university, and in the afternoon, I spent teaching classes at the college. I was involved in work on national standardization and work with international organizations such as IEEE, IEC, EBU, ITU, OSA and others. Sometimes I was brought in as an expert in Ukraine’s National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance (NAQA).

And yet, I consider research to be my main activity. For more than 10 years I have been engaged in adaptive technologies in broadcasting and computer vision systems. I was the head of a scientific project commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to develop algorithms for correcting images obtained in difficult conditions, like flare, darkness, or when illuminated by light sources with different spectral responses.

It was very important for me to present my scientific results at the IEEE conferences that take place in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. Unfortunately, due to the war, all conferences in Ukraine have been canceled.

Today, the life of my family has changed completely. So little is left of my former life that sometimes I think, was it even real at all?!

If the usual street sounds are the rumble of a truck, and the sounds from various things outside were not even noticed before, now each of them makes me think of the war, and each reminds me of danger.

Our day now often begins not in the morning, but at night, as alarm sirens sound and we must go to the bomb shelter as soon as possible. The war has made me analyze every sound, every rustle and knock… If the usual street sounds are the rumble of a truck, and the sounds from various things outside were not even noticed before, now each of them makes me think of the war, and each reminds me of danger.

During the day, we usually plan to go for groceries, medicine, or other necessities. We are limited in time, because in the morning goods are not yet in stores, and when they are delivered, there are long queues, or there are air raid alerts. Sometimes there is no bread, and we need to look for someone to borrow bread from, or wait for the next day. For drinking water we have to go to the pump room. Warm water is in short supply. The Internet disappears and the speed is not great—it is almost impossible to communicate via video due to insufficient speed.

Sandbags and Ukrainian flags sit in front of a majestic building

Every day is tense, as there are people around us who are also looking for safety and all their talk is only about the war. It’s very hard. For example, next to us there is a family from the outskirts of Kharkiv. A flat field is all that is left of their village, and now they are with us, in our shelter with their whole family. My wife and I try to support them.

It is also difficult for us, since my wife is 9 months pregnant and will give birth in the basement of a maternity hospital. I wanted to take my wife to Moldova, but she refused.

For the first time, our society finds itself in a situation where a lot is said about the danger of loss of life, and not so much about channels for obtaining truthful information. Therefore, together we try to fight fake information, even as we fight fear from sirens, from roadblocks, from military equipment, from the sound of explosions…

The main thing I want to achieve is to inform all my acquaintances in Russia and Belarus about what is happening in Ukraine. So that each of them, in their place, could work to stop the war.

Due to the fact that I cannot leave my pregnant wife, I unfortunately, cannot help the territorial defense to dig trenches or build fortifications. But I also cannot sit by without participating in the defense of Ukraine. I spread truthful information through social networks for my friends and acquaintances. I also inform them about opportunities to get information about the availability of medicines, evacuation trains, etc. The Ministry of Digital Transformation created the opportunity to participate in the IT Army of Ukraine, where I take part while sitting in the basement. I communicate with acquaintances from Russia, as well as create databases of information about what is happening in Ukraine and Odessa. The main thing I want to achieve is to inform all my acquaintances in Russia and Belarus about what is happening in Ukraine. So that each of them, in their place, could work to stop the war.

Left, a selfie showing students learning how to solder in the background. Right, two men soldering electronics.

I do not give up hope of surviving all the circumstances and continuing to do what I love—research. In order to distract myself from what is happening and even calm myself, I recall research done, results obtained, formulas derived, and I think about how to improve and optimize them. For example, leading experts of the world, such as Mark Fairchild, Maureen Neitz, R. Luo, and other great researchers, deal with the issues of metamerism in the reproduction and transmission of images. This problem is very relevant in medicine, and I intend to propose a solution for it. I am an enthusiastic follower of the research direction of the Munsell Color Science Laboratory at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and to be honest, I dream of visiting this famous laboratory.

For everyone who has read my short story up to this point, I want to say: friends, take care of what you have now, because in a couple of hours or days you can lose if not everything, then almost everything! May God give us all a peaceful sky!

Experiencing such conditions, I can not think of anything else than what is most necessary for my family—security for us, and the things we will need for the birth of a child and for his future life. This is a big problem due to the shortage of goods in stores and pharmacies. And I can’t help but think about our financial condition, and would gladly respond to the opportunity to work remotely. It would be good for our family.

This article is part of “Stories of the War in Ukraine,” a special collection from The Institute.

To share your comments on this story or connect with the author, email us at [email protected].







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