About Charles Harper
Charles Harper was born in Ridgeley, West Virginia in 1926, and
raised in Western Maryland. In 1945, he began attending Johns Hopkins
University on a senatorial scholarship, studying chemical engineering
with an interest in plastics. After receiving his degree in 1949,
Harper went to work for the Glidden Chemical Company in a research
lab before taking a two year tour of duty in the Army, which he
served mostly in Germany. When he completed his military service,
Harper wanted to get into plastics and went to work for Western
Electric building cable terminals. After a few years, Westinghouse
opened a facility in Baltimore, and Harper was hired as a senior
engineer by the Materials and Process Engineering Department to
work on plastics and electronics. Harper quickly became a supervisor.
He later advanced to program manager, department manager
in the early 1970s, and technologies manager. During his career
at Westinghouse, Harper was involved in many important projects – like
Aero 13 and VHSIC – as well in as the progress of electronic
packaging and plastic through developments in such things as transfer
molding, soldering, and materials. He published his first book
on electronic packaging in 1960, and he remained a very active
writer throughout his career, publishing many books and articles,
and later serving as a McGraw-Hill series editor and series editor-in-chief.
Harper was also involved in professional groups such as the International
Electronics Packaging Society (IEPS) which began in the early-1970s. Harper
served as the first president, later helping to combine it with
the ISHM to form the International Microelectronics and Packaging
Society (IMAPS). He was also involved in the IEEE, working with
the EI Journal and EI conferences, as well as involvement with
the reliability group. Harper also taught at the Westinghouse School
of Applied Engineering Science and various evening schools around
Baltimore. In about 1985 he was the co-founder of Technology Seminar,
Incorporated which gave public, onsite and university seminars
on electronic packaging. After retiring from Westinghouse in 1987,
Harper began teaching internationally as well as seminars at Johns
Hopkins, the University of Maryland and the University of Dayton.
In this interview, Harper talks about his education and career,
but focuses mainly on his years at Westinghouse. His time at Johns
Hopkins is discussed, including his initial difficulties coming
from the counties into the city, his positive interactions with
GI Bill students, and studying chemical engineering. Harper’s
interest in working in plastics and electronic packaging is covered
throughout the interview, as well as how chemical engineering fits
into electronics. The structure of the Materials and Process Engineering
Department is also talked about, particularly how the engineers
in that department worked on multiple projects at once, rather
than one single project over a long period of time. Issues and
developments in electronic packaging are discussed, including advancements – and
sometimes failures – in chip technology and circuit boards,
and how original designs were at times changed as they moved forward
into manufacture and production phases. Harper’s interests
in teaching and writing are also covered, as well as his involvement
with McGraw-Hill and professional groups. He also talks about his
management style and the family-like atmosphere at Westinghouse.
About the Interview
CHARLES HARPER: An Interview Conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser,
IEEE History Center, 13 October 2010
Interview #554 for the National Electronic Museum and IEEE History
Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc.
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes
only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right
to publish, are reserved to the National Electronics Museum and
to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted
for publication without the written permission of the National
Electronics Museum and the Director of IEEE History Center.
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed
to The National Electronics Museum, P.O. Box 1693, MS 4015, Baltimore,
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Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated
use of the passages, and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Charles Harper, an oral history conducted in 2010 by Sheldon Hochheiser,
IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA at the National Electronics
Museum, Linthicum, MD, USA
Interview: Charles Harper
Interviewer: Sheldon Hochheiser
Date: 13 October 2010
Location: The National Electronics Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
It is October 13th, 2010. I'm Sheldon Hochheiser of the IEEE History
Center, and I am here at the National Electronics Museum in Maryland
with Charles Harper to listen to him talk about his career.
If we could start with a little background, where were you born?
I was born in Ridgeley, West Virginia, right across the river
from Cumberland. I was raised in Western Maryland, the Cumberland-Frostburg
Very good. And when were you born?
What did you parents do?
My father was a miner who worked in the coal mines in Western
Maryland. Eventually he left that and bought a large farm which
he owned and ran for a number of years. My mother was a housekeeper,
Were you interested in technology and science as a youth?
Yes, I was. I was just generally interested in anything academic
or scientific. I didn't browse into any particular area at that
early age, but I was interested in science and math and the right
kind of subjects for getting into technology eventually.
And what led you to Johns Hopkins University for college?
Well, I was led there by fortunately being awarded a senatorial
scholarship by then senator, from Maryland, who was Senator [James
Was this the state senator from your part of the state?
Yes. He was the senator from Western Maryland. Each senator, including
the one from Maryland, Senator Beall, could award one scholarship
to Hopkins for each county. And I was awarded the scholarship for
Allegany County which is where Frostburg is located. My high school
was Beall High School, which was named for the Beall family, of
course. And he had a son who later also became a senator. So there
were two senator Bealls. And the young Senator Beall was in my
class. He and I were classmates up until the eighth grade. And
at that point his father who was the elder Senator Beall sent him,
appropriately, to a prep school of some type because he wanted
him to also be a senator which he did become.
The younger Senator Beall who was in my classes up until the eighth
grade died just within the past three or four years. But the Beall
family and the senatorial scholarship by Senator Beall was what
got me into engineering and into Johns Hopkins. Sometimes I ask
myself what were the things which got me the scholarship by Senator
Beall and I think it was not only the academics in which I was
always interested, but also the extensive extra-curricular activities.
Freshman Hopkins was difficult since in the counties the quality
of the teachers is no match for the quality in cities, like no
way could we match up to the [Baltimore] Poly graduates for instance.
And going into Hopkins, there were a lot of Poly graduates which
made the first year for people like me a little tough keeping up
Of course you catch you up in a year or so. Fortunately I had
a very good math teacher in high school, an outstanding math teacher,
in a subject I was always interested in. And scientific subjects.
Plus, I was always very active in extracurricular activities, I
wasn't large enough and strong enough to be in sports so my extracurricular
activities were academic. For instance I was the president of the
student council and in the senior year, the City of Frostburg always
had a day run by the students of Beall High School. I was the Mayor
that day. And other things like that. And so I fortunately was
awarded this scholarship which got me through my years at Hopkins.
So did you enter Hopkins with a particular course of study in
No. It was an engineering scholarship and the first year was fairly
general. I could have gone in any direction. But I switched into
chemical because that seemed to be of considerable interest to
me at that time. So I switched into chemical engineering. And my
academic career at Hopkins and my degree were in chemical engineering.
What was the curriculum at Hopkins like when you were there?
Well, it was very interesting. It was a very strong academic curriculum
of course. The year when I was a freshman at Hopkins which was
1945, I graduated from Beall High School and went into Hopkins
in the fall of '45. And the fall of '45 was the end of the war
which meant that the first large wave of veterans coming in on
the GI Bill came in and were fellow students. So I had what I considered
the good fortune of being a fellow student with all of these veterans
who were three, four, five years older than me and therefore a
lot more mature than me. It was really great working with these
guys because while they had the advantage of having the GI Bill,
they had the disadvantage of having been off fighting a war for
three or four years and getting a little bit rusty in their math.
So here I was fresh out of high school with math. So I worked with
some of these guys and would work with them on the math subjects
helping bring them up. Most of them were married, and they would
have me home for dinner and I got a free dinner out of it. It wound
up being a pretty good deal all around.
The math and the science subjects were strong of course. I more
and more got to like chemistry and the chemical subjects and eventually
leaned into - while there are many branches of chemical engineering
and chemistry - I found myself leaning in the direction of plastics
which was the up and coming thing in those days. Plastics were
always there but the real advances were starting to be made in
the late 40's and 50's. Most of my initial work in the industry
was with plastics. That was my specialty. But eventually I got
into a lot of other things as you would imagine working with the
electrical engineers and mechanical engineers.
Right and we will certainly get to those.
Right, in fact it was interesting that I wound up after many years
of being in industry, teaching at Hopkins. That was very interesting
having graduated from there and to teach there. I might get into
this more later, but it happened that there was a new branch of
materials and chemistry coming into play in the field of electronic
packaging and in the field of electronic manufacturing and so forth.
I was right in the middle of all this in my work career with Westinghouse.
And being into the middle of that plus a couple of other interests
that I always had, which were teaching and writing, that played
a major role in my whole career. I taught in the Westinghouse School
of Applied Engineering Science, and also taught many years in the
evening schools in the Baltimore area. The Baltimore City evening
schools and Poly and City College, and Patterson Park were some
of them. These were mainly adult education, of course, people finishing
up their adult education. So that led eventually to Hopkins needing
someone to teach some courses in the area in chemistry and chemical
engineering related to electronics which my background and experience
in the industry led me into, so I wound up teaching at Hopkins
for three or four years in the late 80's, early 90's.
Circling back around - so in '49 you get your degree from Hopkins.
Yes, I got my degree from Hopkins in '49 in chemical engineering.
Right. And what led you from there to Western Electric rather
than some other opportunity?
Well, actually right before getting into Western Electric I had
just a shorter career ahead of that, not a large one, but when
I graduated from Hopkins in '49, it was a year when jobs were tough
to get. A lot of the engineers were having a hard time getting
jobs because they just weren't available at that point. Well I
had the good fortune, I guess you would say, of being active in
extracurricular activities as I was in high school. Hopkins, like
a lot of other colleges, had a student chapter of the American
Institute of Chemical Engineers. I was the program chairman for
that association at Hopkins, and that meant that it was my job
to find speakers and to invite them. So I made friends among people
in the chemical industry in the Baltimore area. One of them was
the research director from the Glidden Chemical Company. While
all the other people had trouble getting jobs, he hired me right
away because I had worked with him so it was just a fortunate coincidence
for me. That was just research, in a research laboratory and it
was only for about a year and a half because I had to do a tour
in the military. I had a two year tour of duty. And so I then after
about a year and a half with Glidden, I did serve a two year tour
of duty in the Army which was primarily in the occupation army
in Germany. The war was over by that time. And then after coming
out of the Army, rather than going back to Glidden, I really wanted
to get into something where I was leaning towards plastics which
was my specialty and towards chemical engineering. And at that
particular time Westinghouse didn't have a facility in Baltimore
yet, so I didn't know Westinghouse. But Western Electric did have
a job for me in this area.
Right. Western's got a large plant in Baltimore.
Yes, down at Point Breeze.
When I got out of the Army, I was hired by Western Electric. My
work there was strictly in plastics, in building cable terminals.
The cable terminals in the telephone industry are all some kind
of terminations or conductors separated by plastics. They wound
up being molded in plastics. The particular plastic used primarily
was a polyester resin. So I got very, very familiar with polyester
resins and with polymers in general. I worked for them for a couple
of years actually.
Aero 13, Miniaturization, Transfer Molding
Then Westinghouse opened their facility here in Baltimore and
Westinghouse, being in the advanced electronics industry much more
than Western Electric, appealed to me. So I applied to Westinghouse
and was hired immediately and went back into the plastics and electronics
field. One of the major programs at Westinghouse at that time was
the Aero 13.
I was heavily involved with the Aero 13 because the Aero 13 had
a lot of electronic modules. And these electronic modules had in
them some miniature tubes, capacitors, resistors, various types
of sub-size electronic components. The semiconductor era wasn't
here yet so it was tubes and resistors and capacitors. These components
were mounted into little blocks and they had to be molded with
the plastic. When I joined Westinghouse the plastic being used
was polyester with which I'd had a lot of experience at Western
Electric. The polyesters created a lot of problems in being used
to mold modules in the electronics industry because the shrinkage
of polyesters was fairly high and this would break subminiature
tubes and break some of the fine leads which were no problem in
say the telephone industry because there were none of these fine
components, but in the electronics industry polyesters were a problem.
So my first job was to get rid of polyesters and move into epoxies
which had much lower shrinkage and much better adhesion, a lot
of better properties in the electronics industry. And so my first
job was moving from polyesters to epoxy. My first two or three
or four years was precisely that.
And now is this in the Aero 13 project or did that then spread
to other projects?
The Aero 13, then spread to the other AWG-10's and Q-72's and
a variety of those other electronic systems. We used epoxies in
these modules for a fair number of years, but eventually we started
using another form of module known as the cordwood module. And
in this cordwood module, these were considerably smaller than the
modules in Aero 13 in which there were a variety of sizes but they
might be like three inches by five inches by an inch and a half.
But as we went further and further towards miniaturization, the
task was to pack the components in smaller configurations, and
so we started building the components in what was known as a cordwood
fashion, like stacking up the components in a cordwood style except
they weren't touching one another but they were close together.
And these small cordwood modules were perhaps more like, one inch
by three inch by one inch or something like that, considerably
smaller than the Aero 13 module.
So we had to find other methods of manufacturing those. Coming
into the industry at that time was a technology - and this is where
the chemistry and chemical engineering all come together because
you now need equipment to do this - but coming into the industry
was a plastic molding process known as transfer molding. The key
feature was that you could mold electronic components at a much
lower pressure than with all of the other molding processes. Most
of the common molding processes for plastics were high pressure
processes. This would break these electronic components, break
the fine wires, etc., and so the chemical industry, and all the
chemists in the chemical companies, plastic companies, started
working on low temperature and low pressure moldable epoxies as
opposed to the longer cycle curing epoxies in the Aero 13.
About when was this transition?
This transition was probably in the early to mid 60's. It became
industry wide - in fact, it's interesting just re-tracking a little
bit, sometimes people would wonder what does a chemical engineer
or a chemist have to do in the electronics industry. It doesn't
seem to match at all because of course there are a lot of electrical
engineers and a lot of mechanical engineers in the industry. But
when you think about it, everything in the world is made of materials,
and materials are chemicals. Processing those chemicals into a
product is a process and this then becomes engineering. So chemicals
and chemistry and chemical engineering fit very strongly into electronics
whereas on the surface it doesn't appear that they might. But they
What was Aero 13?
Aero 13 was a radar system fitting in the nose of airplanes, I
think an F-4 Phantom for instance, in some of those early airplanes.
So if you would look at the system, there's an antenna in the front
of the system and then behind that are all the electronics. And
the electronic bays are loaded with these electronic modules which,
as I say, were made initially with polyesters which were a big
problem. But with epoxies they worked fine. The only thing is with
the epoxies at that time, they were all long processing cycles.
In other words, if you molded these modules they would have to
go through an oven for a couple of hours or something like that.
That's a long cycle. And when transfer molding came along and the
low pressure molding with transfer molding, the cycle was minutes,
a couple of minutes. And you could simultaneously mold a number
of these small cordwood modules - remember I mentioned they were
So you could simultaneously mold a large number, maybe a dozen
or more of these modules in a couple of minutes. So the result
was tremendously improved efficiency, time efficiency, in using
this. Every time I give a presentation on this I have to give some
credit, great credit, to a company which developed this transfer
molding technology. It was the Hull Corporation located in the
Philadelphia area. A guy named John Hull ran that so I worked very
closely with him. His equipment and this process became internationally
used. Today they are still used everywhere. The modules today are
even much smaller yet.
Today’s components are chip-sized components. And you have
chips which are directly molded. When we got into the chip technology,
there was a new set of problems, both chemical and material and
engineering and every other way, because the chips are bonded together
or wired together with very fine wire like one mil wires instead
of the larger wires that we used in the larger modules. And these
very fine wires and the semiconductor chips break very easily.
And they are very sensitive chemically to even plastics. So here
came another leap in plastics technology to get higher purity low
pressure moldable plastics. The plastics industry did develop these
I can recall when the industry got into semiconductor technology
and molding of chips.
Okay so we're talking now into the 70's?
Yes. And the first chips could not be molded. They were too sensitive
to impurities in the plastics and to the pressures of the molding
and breaking the wires. The first chips, as everyone in the industry
will recall, were chips mounted in containers. The first ones were
the so-called T-O cans which were metal containers, little metal
containers - T-O meaning transistor outline - and there would be
one transistor mounted in this little maybe less than a half an
inch, quarter inch sized diameter little can and the wires coming
out of the bottom of the can through an insulating ceramic. Now
another area of chemicals and electronics, ceramics, became more
and more important. While that worked great, a bunch of transistor
cans on a circuit board took up a lot of space. And then comes
the question how could we get rid of those cans and mold the chips
directly. This gets into the developments on higher purity plastics
and lower molding pressures and so forth, which require a combination
of both the electronics and the mechanical, on one hand, and the
materials and chemicals on the other hand.
Who did you report to at Westinghouse during your early years,
both as a person and as an organization within the organization?
When the Westinghouse plant opened, one of their departments was
the Materials and Process Engineering Department.
And where was this?
It was at the Air Arm Plant right here at the airport facility.
The guy who hired me was the manager of that department. I eventually
moved up the chain and took his place. But Al Hamill was his name.
He is dead now. I worked for him for a fair number of years, and
it was very interesting. Just as a sort of a humorous side issue,
in my early years of working for him he attended a conference on
these new moldable plastics. He got the Proceedings and gave it
to me to review and to return to him for his files. Well somehow
or other I never did get it returned. And so something like five
years ago - he wasn't dead yet - I found it. And I sent it to him
with a little note - I'm finished with your Proceedings from 30
years ago, you can have them back now. I think he was ill then.
I never heard back from him. But that was my initiation into the
The interesting thing about the electronics industry and Westinghouse
was that it was constantly progressing to newer technologies. That
had influence on magazines, technical societies and everything
else which we'll get into a little bit more later because with
my tendency to get involved in these things, I got involved in
a number of industry associations, which was a lot of fun too.
So working with all of these people in a wide variety of backgrounds
and a wide variety of interests and characteristics, it was just
tremendously interesting. And technology was progressing along
the way, too, all the time.
In your work on these components as a chemical engineer, how closely
did you need to work with electrical and mechanical engineers at
Very closely. Very closely. I'll answer that in a minute. But
the combination of when you get a new contract, whether it's Aero
13 or whether it's BOMARC, whether it's AWACS, a new system. You
immediately put together teams. There will be an electrical engineering
design group, mechanical engineering design group, a structures
group, an environmental testing group, and that kind of thing.
There always had to be a material and processes engineering operation
because all of these systems, no matter what the system was, again,
they were designed initially by electrical engineers and then the
mechanical structures and the modular constructions were done by
mechanical engineers and then all the testing by test engineers
and environmental engineers and so forth. But eventually they would
all need input on what materials shall we use, what type of modules
shall we use, what process shall we use to manufacture these. It
was an inter-technology team, if you will, of electrical engineers,
mechanical, all these other guys. So we would have meetings and
discussions. Initially when you got a new contract there was the
design group. In designing this thing, you made decisions on what
type modules, what type components, what type material would you
use for the modules and for the antenna and for the structure and
all of these things. So consequently, it was great when I looked
around the National Electronics Museum this morning and refreshed
myself on all of these different systems which I was involved in.
Regarding the electrical engineering group, an electrical engineering
group might be with their system for years, like the AWACS team.
AWACS was forever and still going. And so the electrical engineers
who started in designing that are probably still there if they
haven't retired. Whereas in the materials and processes, that end
of the engineering, we were in every contract, every program because
they all had to have modules, antennas, structures, and we made
those decisions as part of the team.
So then did you move from program to program to program? Rather
than say the electrical engineers who got to AWACS who may have
been with AWACS for decades.
Well yes, we would, normally speaking. I would get a call requesting
the need to have some guys sit with the system designers on deciding
what type modules to build and what type metals, structures we
will house these things in. How will we plate these metals? What
- gold, nickel, aluminum - how shall we do that? So consequently
our guys, the guys who worked for me, I would assign them to work
with whatever project needed them at that time. And so the guys
in my department were not working on any given program all the
time - they might in fact be working on three or four programs
About when did you become a supervisor?
Well, when I started with Westinghouse, with the experience I'd
had with Western Electric, I was hired as a senior engineer. And
then I guess within five years after that I got in the supervisory
ranks and then another five or seven or eight years, management
ranks. I was a department manager, I guess, from around 1970 or
early-70's, something like that. But then interestingly added onto
that, within a three to four year period, the government started
funding a lot of programs in materials and manufacturing technology
development and research and development, and so I became a program
manager of new technology programs in the fields of electronic
packaging, materials, processing, manufacturing technologies. We
would go out and I was the point man in working with the Air Force
at Dayton, the Navy at San Diego, the Army at Fort Monmouth or
wherever they were when we knew they had contracts coming up for
these research programs. And so I played the role of a salesman
I guess to the military for a good number of years -
[Interposing] Now is this something that you did alongside?
So basically there were two parts to your job from the mid 70's.
- one was managing a group of people who were going out -
[Interposing] Materials and processing engineering for design
through manufacturing, right.
And another part was going out seeking new business.
Advanced technology, advanced technology business, yes. It was
referred to simply as technologies development. All of these contracts
which we went after were things which would be useful to Westinghouse
in their programs. And more than that, hopefully, things which
would give us a competitive edge against other companies in this
electronic materials and assembly. The term electronic packaging
came in perhaps the late-60's or mid-60's.
'Electronic Packaging,' Publishing, Conferences
I think I can claim co-inventorship of that term electronic packaging.
This is interesting - it leads off into some extracurricular professional
activities. One of the magazines was Electronic Design and one
of the editors in Electronic Design was a guy named Milton Kiver.
His role as an editor for that magazine was in the area of electronic
assemblies. At just about the same time that he moved, he left
Electronic Design and started his own magazine, called Electronic
Packaging and Production, well just about in the same time period
I'd written my first book. I entitled it Electronic Packaging with
Plastics. So he and I both about simultaneously came out with the
phrase “electronic packaging.” And so he and I of
course then became close friends and I wrote a column for his magazine
for a couple of years or so, a monthly column.
My first book was a McGraw-Hill book. It was the first book on
this subject, plastics and electronics. So that made it very popular.
In fact it was translated into a couple of other languages. That
put me on my way to more books with McGraw-Hill. And it put me
onto more work with magazines and conferences because Kiver was
a very ambitious and forward looking guy. Within a year or so after
he established this Electronic Packaging and Production magazine
he said well, gee, we ought to have electronic packaging conferences.
No one else had done anything like that. And he did. He started
[the] first electronic packaging and production conference known
as NEPCON, National Electronic Packaging Conference. NEPCON was
the big name in the industry for the next 25 years. I was heavily
involved in that and with him and then in other things, with McGraw-Hill.
That's interesting how these things tie together with these technology
programs that we were getting from contractors.
There were a lot of these technology programs over the years,
branching from plastics to structures to ceramics and so forth.
We had programs in all those areas, a lot of technology programs
- the area of molding, again it always comes back to a material
and sensitive process because of the fine components, ever decreasing
size components, ever decreasing size of electronics. You know
how small cell phones are today and what they were when they first
came out. And likewise TVs and everything else, computers and everything
else. So with all this great miniaturization a lot of our technology
programs for the military would deal with miniaturization and packaging
of these fine components.
Can you give me any specific examples?
Yes I'm going to give you a couple of examples.
There are a lot of areas, of course, but a couple of them would
stand out as being really important and making a mark on the industry
and giving Westinghouse a leg up in some of these contracts in
this area of transfer molding. When we got into it, we were among
the first organizations getting into it. It was because of our
close association with the Hull Corporation and their molding presses.
The Army decided to let a contract on advanced technology for industry
[set] guidelines so the whole industry would have a set of guidelines
for molding fine electronic modules. This contract was actually
from the Army Missile Command in Huntsville. It was a three or
four year contract, maybe one contract after the other. But in
that process we developed the industry guidelines for transfer
molding these high performance electronic modules. And therefore
in our contracts for future systems, like F-16, or whatever they
were, Q-72, whatever they were, we could quote what we were doing
as having set the industry standard for that.
Another area in the materials area, which is broad-based in every
system just like modules, are circuit boards. The original circuit
boards were big and bulky systems. They might be six or eight inches
by four or six inches. They would have components soldered on them
such as, again, tubes and resistors, capacitors, diodes, all those
things, just those components soldered onto the boards. Well, this
was a sort of a clumsy bump of stuff. And there was, immediately
of course, technology development programs on reducing the size
of those. We got into some of those programs. One in particular
related to circuit boards, a couple in particular - one of them
has to do with the fact that circuit boards in humid environments
will lose their quality and their performance and the resistivity
of circuit boards needs to be very high so there's no electrical
leakage between components. Circuit boards when they're exposed
to humid environments, their electrical properties will be degraded,
the resistivity will be lowered and there becomes leakage between
components. So what you have to do is coat these circuit boards.
That became an industry standard.
Well this also would have been in like the mid 60's or so - everything
was really moving in the period of the 60's and early 70's.
But we developed, Westinghouse developed, we sponsored programs
at our research center, and that was one of the other jobs that
I got involved in. We had to decide each year how much money we
would allocate from our division to the central research laboratories
for a variety of areas, one of which was materials development.
So with this circuit board deterioration problem arose the need
for a better coating and one which was easier to use, the conventional
circuit board coatings required dipping or spraying or something
like that and then a curing cycle again which takes time. So we
sponsored a program at the research laboratories to develop a new,
a greatly improved coating. And the research laboratories did in
fact come up with a new coating which was a totally different chemistry
than the conventional circuit board coatings. Conventional circuit
board coatings were primarily epoxy or urethane coatings, which
were relatively thick, a few mils. But this coating developed for
us in our program with the central research laboratories was a
fluorocarbon based coating. It was in a solvent dispersion rather
than a coating which had to be sprayed and cured. This dispersion
required only that the circuit board be dipped into this liquid
or liquid sprayed on, probably it was a dip affair, but the solvent
or the carrier in the dispersion would dry off immediately and
here you had this nice essentially Teflon coating. And it was well
known in the industry that of all the things that were affected
by moisture, Teflon is the one thing that isn't.
It never is affected by moisture. It doesn't absorb any moisture,
none stays on the surface. So with this new coating we had developed,
we could quote that in our new contracts we were proposing and
use that in our systems and have a far better coating than anyone
else had. There was some flak from some of the military agencies
at first. This is new and this doesn't fit into the mil spec and
so forth. We had to fight some of those battles. I can recall there
was a group up at Rome Air Development Center, which was the reliability
center for the Air Force but was also a major reliability center
for the military industry. So I remember getting called up there
a couple of times to explain why this coating was so good and it
didn't fit into a mil spec and why it should get into a mil spec
and so forth. Eventually we did use it and it worked well. It was
really easy dip, fast dry. You didn't even know the coating was
there but it was there.
Is this still in the 60's? Or is this later?
Into the 70's now.
Did things as far as these coatings get to more of a steady state,
or do the changes keep going on throughout the course of your career?
No, actually the circuit board coating industry did not change
much. Circuit boards themselves did, and I'll talk about that in
a minute, but circuit board coatings didn’t. People in the
industry would either use the epoxy or the urethane and since those
fit into the mil spec a lot of companies, they're not going to
fight the issue - they work and we're going to do it and they still
do. Then some of the companies switched to the fluorocarbons. These
fluorocarbons which were used for these coatings were developed
by 3M which was big in advanced coatings for circuit boards. So
3M worked with us and worked with the military getting this stuff
into the system. So probably not as many companies wound up using
these fluorocarbons as we thought they would because of the military
hassle and people were set into something that worked, the urethane,
the epoxy coatings and they stuck with that. But both of them are
there and they're still pretty much the same.
Boards, Military Applications
Now circuit boards themselves, you had a question?
No, go ahead. You seem to be going someplace useful
The circuit boards themselves, that was also a can of worms as
they say. Circuit boards in general are made with a fabric. You
start off with a fabric. And the fabric can be cotton, linen, all
kinds of fabrics. And then you wet this fabric. The fabric is in
sheet form. As I said, large circuit boards are manufactured in
large like four feet by eight feet pieces. And you wet the fabric
through a chemical engineering process which goes through many
steps. And you wet it and dry it and you have this circuit board.
A lot of these fabrics will absorb moisture more quickly than is
acceptable in the high performance electronics industry. So the
circuit board industry then switched pretty quickly to glass as
the fabric. And conventional glasses weren't that good either because
nothing sticks to glass very well and a piece of plastic on a glass
will come loose. So the fabric had to be coated with something
known as a sizing, which effectively was a dipped coating. The
object of the dipped coating was so that the fibers wouldn't absorb
moisture so much. And the initial coatings weren't all that good
either on the fiber, but eventually better coatings got developed
for the fiber.
About when did these better coatings appear?
Again this would have been in the 70's now, mid-70's. Improved
fibers were developed because the original glasses had impurities
in them which would result in electrical losses in electrical systems.
Consequently the newer grade of glasses were developed by the glass
companies. They were known as e-glasses or electrical grade glasses.
These glasses were much better and with the higher performance
coatings also developed and with the newer circuit boards like
our fluorocarbon, you could get really high performance circuit
boards which were mandatory because, say you have a typical kind
of a problem. You have aircraft in Southeast Asia, some military
action going on there.
Okay so, probably Vietnam in the period you're talking about.
Vietnam would be a good example. These circuit boards in the radar
systems which we made would start losing their electrical caliber,
electrical quality. They resist everything, the boards would go
down and you have leakage and these kinds of problems. It was mandatory
to make these improvements because, say in ECM systems, electronic
countermeasure systems, but you want to in the radar systems, in
whatever they were radar or ECMs, but you want to detect the enemy
plane and missiles as early as you could so you could shoot them
down. How fast you detected them depended partly on the caliber
of the circuit boards. If the circuit board quality went down,
then the whole electrical part of the system went down and you
might get shot down instead of the other guy. So all these things
were really not just interesting, innovative improvements but they
were mandatory improvements to help with the battle.
A couple really major industry problems in the area of materials
for electronics came up in the 70's. One of them was the coatings
again. I mentioned that one of the conventional coatings was urethanes.
Well it turned out that the humidity was so bad in Vietnam and
Southeast Asia that the planes on the runways and so forth are
being affected by the humidity. But these urethane coatings were
starting to revert from a solid coating to a liquid, which is [where]
you start out, as a liquid. So here you have no coating at all,
plus you have a coating which has become a liquid and is running
off the board. Well, this was a horrible experience. The whole
military industry, electronics industry jumped onto that pretty
quickly. But it meant a lot of systems out in the field had to
come back and be refitted and that kind of thing. So that was one
big industry problem related to materials and processes.
And you had to deal with it yourself at Westinghouse with components
Yes we did.
And there was another one. Everything, all the electrical joints
and the connections have to be hooked together by something. And
that something in many of the systems or most of the systems and
circuit boards is solder. And here you think of something as commonplace
as solder - what's the big deal, everyone uses solder. Well in
the electronics industry, solder is a big deal, and for a number
of reasons. First, you have to solder very fine interconnections.
Secondly, soldering processes, whether it be a wave soldering process
or a dip soldering process or whatever, solder gets very hot. I
mean liquefied solder is very hot. And here, this heated solder
can have very serious effects on the components on the circuit
board and on the circuit board itself. And so there was a move
at one point, this would have been in the 70's or maybe in the
early 80's, when some people in the industry started using indium
solders instead of tin-lead solders. This was lower temperature
solder and it looked fantastic except that when it got out in humid
environments, it also reverted, and turned into a liquid again.
And so this was a major industry refit problem. This just gives
you a couple of examples of you how go from designing an electronic
system with the materials and processes you use and then you get
into new technologies to improve it and you still have problems
out in the system or in some of the new systems. You would have
to ask why the companies doing original research on indium wouldn't
have found that out way before it got into equipment. But they
didn't and it got into equipment.
It got into Westinghouse equipment?
Then you had to go scramble once it was out in the field
Yes. In fact we had a major subcommittee that was known as the
Commission for Indium Affairs. Sort of a reversion there, but it
was a dead serious one of course. We worked on that thing for months.
Of course, what you did is get rid of all the indium and don't
use any more indium. That made the Indium Corporation look pretty
bad for having sold it so broadly to the industry and it didn't
work. Those are some of the problems in the industry and how you
progress from the design phase to the manufacturing phase to the
production phase and then to the phase where what you have isn't
doing the job anymore. Alas, you need higher speed electronics.
When you get into the semiconductors the name of the game always
is higher speed, right? Higher speed, higher speed. You have to
develop and everything has some plastics in it one place or the
other, on a circuit board, a module, someplace where they are.
So developing plastics with lower electrical losses was increasingly
critical so that when the signal going from the chip to wherever
else it went into the system, through the system, signal speed
wouldn't be slowed down. In fact there was one major Air Force
program in which we were involved in the advanced technology aspects
of high speed signals.
VHSIC. Very High Speed Integrated Circuits.
VHSIC. It was sponsored by the Air Force at Dayton. I spent a
lot of time at the Air Force in Dayton for a few years, good people
to work with out there. And so we developed, the semiconductor
guys, because Westinghouse had a semiconductor operation, ATL,
Advanced Technology. Those guys were working on improved high speed
semiconductors. Of course, a lot of other people in the industry
were too, you're always in competition. And in my group we were
working on lower loss plastics. Consider the AUG-10, or one of
the systems in the 70's.Well, at the end of it, the antenna - there's
a little plastic cover over the end of it, known as a radome. And
I don't know if you have seen that out there but it's no bigger
- my hands are like that but it's over the antenna, the end of
the antenna. Well, the signal going out from the antenna has to
get through this radome. The radomes were made from glass epoxy
boards, not circuit boards but laminates, and the losses were too
great. So we had to develop something better than epoxy and we
would switch into like diallyl phthalate which was lower loss and
go to lower loss materials and lower loss fibers and fabrics because
whereas glass fabric was the industry standard for these glass
reinforced glass structures it wasn't adequate for radomes. And
so DuPont had come up with - and we worked a good bit with DuPont
in this - with a new fabric called Nomex. That fabric is very strong,
much stronger than glass. In fact, Nomex is what is used in bulletproof
vests for policemen because a bullet won't go through it. But from
the electronic viewpoint it has much lower electrical losses than
glass. Quartz is another fabric which has much lower electrical
losses. We worked with that to make some quartz radomes. The problem
is that quartz is too brittle and you can't form it. If you have
a flat piece you're okay but if you try to form it, the quartz
fabric is too brittle and it breaks too easily so it's hard to
work with that.
[End tape one, begin tape two]
Management, Harper’s Management
About how many people did you have in your group in the 70's,
Probably 25 or 30, something like that, and that would have included
a few at the central research labs who worked on my programs.
At central research - that's here in Baltimore or back in Pittsburgh?
So you had some people that were in Pittsburgh but they were part
of your organization?
No, actually, the people in our central research laboratories
worked for the management at the research laboratory on the organization
chart, but they worked for the responsible person at Baltimore
on the programs that they were doing for us.
I got it.
And so several of them were working on programs for me.
Yes. I know Westinghouse in general had a matrix management structure.
How did that work?
It worked very well, particularly for the departments like mine
where instead of having, for instance, all the electronic programs
like AWG-10, F-16, APQ-72 or the ECMs or space programs - whatever
- if every program had to have a materials and processes group
that would have been extremely bulky. And so matrix management
didn't cover everything. The electrical design engineers, they
didn't work for a number of systems, they worked for whatever project
they were on. If they were with AWACS, they were with AWACS. But
most of the other ones didn't, whether it be materials and processes,
whether it be environmental testing even mechanical engineers,
they would work on a number of programs. So [the] theory of the
matrix management is having groups which can work on a number of
programs simultaneously and that's what it is. So the matrix management
worked very well.
How did you manage your people for success?
Well, first of all they're all specialists of course. We would
have one or two people who were specialists in solders and you
think, gee, all this, just solders? Yes, there were a couple of
guys who specialized in that. I have a couple of circuit board
guys. And you have ceramic guys. And you have ones in lubricants
and that kind of thing because all these systems have lubricants.
I have a specialist in cooling systems. So consequently what we
did is each of the guys had his job for whatever systems he was
working on [at] that time and he worked on those and he kept me
informed. We did have regular meetings to review what each guy
was doing on his programs. We would have once a week staff meetings
where we would all get together and review so any of the guys could
pass on helpful comments to any of the other guys. So that’s
kind of the way it worked. And it was very effective, and I was
fairly easy to get along with I think, and to work with, so I had
a good group of guys. In fact all of them who are still alive are
still good friends.
Good. And on the other hand where did you report to in the organization?
I reported to the next higher level who was the manager of mechanical
and materials engineering. That was P. J. Miller. Since we were
a matrix management, we could report to a number of different ones.
We reported to the reliability manager for the engineering operations
which was Naomi McAfee. She was great.
Right. She's someone we've interviewed.
Yes. She's great. And P. J. was great too. And they're still both
good personal friends. So that's who I reported to and then they
reported to the director of engineering for the entire division.
That was the cycle.
So you were basically in this one management position for quite
a long time is that correct?
Yes. For I guess the last fifteen years or more. Actually, I had
two positions, as I mentioned earlier - the technologies management
and the materials and processes engineering management. And yes,
maybe like 15 years.
In what ways did your job or your work evolve over that extended
Well, I guess it evolved first in working for the guy who hired
me, Al Hamill, and we did very well. We also had under him at that
time - and eventually under me - was a chemical laboratory where
we had a couple senior chemists and then a number of technicians.
We had three laboratories actually, a general chemical laboratory
where we had all of our experiments and tests done by these lab
guys, and then a ceramics laboratory as we got into much more ceramics,
and the third was a microelectronics laboratory. I would work with
them and we had their operations.
We're going to circle. How would you describe Westinghouse as
a place to work over the years you were there and what ways did
it evolve over the years you worked there?
Well, it was a great place to work. It was really truly for the
most part like a family. This matrix management system helped make
it that way because you were working with guys on every project.
I mean we weren't insolated to one group. When we'd go to lunch,
walking down the halls, you'd know everyone, more or less. Consequently,
we evolved that way and I think that made Westinghouse a very good
place to work. We'd eat lunch together and do all kinds of things
together. And it was a more or less a family. And actually that
was even the case in an operation like mine which was, if you want
to call it that, a service operation. We served all of these groups.
Well, what that meant was I always had to have enough work for
all the guys so a lot of times when things were a little bit lean
I'd have to go out to the programs and start selling my projects.
Say, we ought to do some research on this. We ought to do some
testing on that. So I wound up being a salesman to the other departments
in Westinghouse here as well as to departments in the military.
And so it was very interesting, challenging, family-oriented, not
like - none of the head to head knockouts like you see at some
places. Very little of that.
You earlier mentioned your book on electric packaging. Can you
revisit that? What led you to decide to write a book?
Okay. That's a good question. Well, as I mentioned, I had a leaning
towards writing and teaching my whole life, just a couple of my
basic characteristics. And so I started since we were into advanced
technology from day one - advanced for that particular time, whatever
that time was - and I liked to write. Some of the magazine editors
found out about that because they would see me at conferences and
so forth and ask me to write an article on this or that or the
other. So consequently I wrote a fair number of articles for different
magazines. I was a repeat author for new articles for these magazines
in my early career so I established a basis of writing and a reputation
for writing. McGraw-Hill found out about this because one of the
magazines was a McGraw-Hill magazine.
Electrical Manufacturing. And that was at one time a really good
thick magazine. Things have changed a lot between then and now
and some of these magazines have totally disappeared today
But McGraw-Hill asked me if I would consider writing a book on
electronic packaging and my field was plastics and electronic packaging.
Of course I was very excited to do that. It was my first shot at
doing a book. So I did that and it was published and was very well
received. In fact, as I mentioned, it was translated shortly after
it was published. The Germans wanted it and the war was over and
they were friends by now. And so the German company, the Hanser
Company, which is a large technical publisher in Germany, asked
McGraw-Hill if they would agree to their doing a translation. And
they did and in fact I went over and worked with the translators
for a week one time which was very interesting too, over in Munich.
Another interesting thing about that first book was that we were
into the Cold War era now. And whereas most countries had copyright
arrangements between countries and you would, if something was
translated and sold, you would still get royalties from the copyright,
due to the copyright laws. But with Russia there were no copyright
And it was the Cold War. And they stole anything they wanted to
steal. And I didn't know about this, but some place along the way,
maybe a couple of years after my book had been published in the
United States, two or three years -
When was your book published in the United States?
[Interposing] Oh, when was the book published? The book was published
probably about 1960.
We were into the Cold War era as I say. So eventually a couple
of years afterwards, probably two or three years, I got a letter
from a guy in Poland, which was a country under the Soviet heel.
He said there's an article you published in Electrical Manufacturing
and I can't get a copy of that. I'd really like to have a copy
of that. Would you send me one? And of course it was public so
I sent him one. But he said if you send me that I'll send you a
copy of your book in Russian. I said, great. I'd like to see that.
And he did. He sent me a copy and it had his notes in the pages
where he had been using it and so forth. I still have that. And
a lot of my later books were translated too but not so serendipitously
as that one.
How did the higher ups in Westinghouse consider your publishing
Well they loved it because it was tremendous publicity for Westinghouse.
I've just finished reading an interesting book about Wernher von
Braun. When he came over, he worked for the Army. And he was into
all kinds of activities, like Disneyland movies and writing books
and featured in Time Magazine, all this stuff and the question
came up why did the Army let him do all this extracurricular stuff.
And the answer came back, it was good press for the Army. And it
was. The same with Westinghouse. It was good press because anything,
any book I did or any publicity always had Westinghouse also mentioned.
I recall Westinghouse had an annual banquet and one year their
theme was ‘we are the best’ or ‘we're the most’ or
something like that. And they would highlight certain people who
were most in this, most patents and most this and most that. And
the most books was me of course. So they liked it. Along the way
I guess I would have to say, here and there, there was a person
or two who had a jealousy motive or something, wasn't all that
happy about it, but in the main it was very well received and did
a very good publicity job for Westinghouse.
Can you tell me a little bit about your publishing career after
your first book?
Yes. Now earlier in the discussion, we've gotten how electronic
packaging got started and how it became a term, finally, which
it wasn't earlier and my having had my first book with McGraw-Hill
and it having been fairly well received. It was the only one in
that field at that time so you would expect that to be pretty well
received. The whole field of electronic packaging, that phrase,
started mushrooming. And so they wanted to have a handbook. One
of the McGraw-Hill divisions is the handbook division. They have
a handbook for electrical engineers, a handbook for chemical engineers,
all those. They wanted to have a handbook for electronic packaging
engineers so they asked me if I would put together this book which
I did. It was known as the Handbook of Electronic Packaging, of
Now is this the sort of book where you would have gotten a lot
of other people to contribute as opposed to the first book which
Yes. The first book I wrote completely myself. And when I got
into the handbook series I did some writing but they were all with
People who were experts in particular niches within the broader
Yes. I would solicit these guys and pick the best ones. McGraw-Hill
wanted me to produce a book on Handbook of Electronic Packaging,
which as I said, I did. And that also was very successful. It went
into five editions, and of course it's still out there. Several
of my books are in the library here in the museum. So that's how
that started. And then one thing led to another and they asked
if I would be a series editor for us, McGraw-Hill. I said yes,
I would because I enjoyed that - working with a lot of interesting
people, a lot of really smart people, good people. So we went into
a series of books in what was known as the electronic packaging
and interconnection series. And then they asked me later if I would
be editor-in-chief and series editor for another series, the materials
science and technology series. And I agreed to that, too. I was
in there pretty deep. And this was of course extracurricular and
mostly in my own time, although of course I'd have to have some
phone calls on Westinghouse time but it was good press for Westinghouse
and very enjoyable for me. And McGraw-Hill was a good company to
deal with and as technology was progressing, here I am in the middle
of it, not only at Westinghouse but in professional activities
and writing articles and books. It just all worked together very
IEEE, IEPS and IMAPS
Maybe now we can focus a bit on professional activities. Since
I'm from the IEEE, I'll start with that. I noticed that you've
been an IEEE member for a long time.
And when and what led you, as [a] chemical engineer, to join IEEE?
Or I guess it might have still been IRE back when you joined. In
what ways were you active?
They published. They also liked to publish book reviews. One of
their journals was the EI Journal, and they needed someone who
was into the book business, the book field, I guess. I knew the
editor, John Tanaka, very well and so he asked me if I would do
book reviews for them and publish them, which I did. I did that
for many years and eventually turned it over to someone else, of
course. That's how I was most active. But this EI, Electrical Insulation
Group, of IEEE also held conferences. I participated in those conferences,
put together technical sessions and chaired those sessions and
that kind of thing. That's the kind of involvement I had with them
over many, many years. They also had a reliability group which
I became active in because a lot of the reliability is how reliable
are your circuit boards and how reliable are your electronic modules.
So these things kind of fit together. And that's how I got involved
and remained involved with it and still am.
Can you tell me a bit about the founding of IEPS?
Yes. Well, I'll get back to Milton Kiver who was the editor of
Electronic Design who then started his own magazine, Electronic
Packaging and Production who then started NEPCON, National Electronic
Packaging Conference. It wound up there were a half dozen NEPCON
conferences a year. One in New York, one in Anaheim, one in London.
And I participated in all those things. But then afterwards he
said there ought to be a professional society for electronic packaging
which there wasn't. So he sponsored it and footed the bill for
getting it underway and started.
About when was this?
This was about in the early 70's I would say.
So consequently with my involvement with him in NEPCONs and with
his magazine and so forth, I was obviously the first guy he would
come to about putting together this professional society. A group
of us put together this society known as IEPS, the International
Electronics Packaging Society. I was the first president as you
would expect and then it ran for a number of years and it held
a number of conferences of its own. It did very well but it became
increasingly apparent that IEPS and another society which was ISHM
were overlapping - International Society for Hybrid Microelectronics,
involved primarily chips on ceramic substrates, but it was electronic
packaging. So it became apparent that these two societies were
doing a lot of the same things. And they were competitive and so
the question came. “isn't it a good idea to join these two?” Well,
you expect a lot of flack because the guys who have their names
strong in each society don't want to lose that. A lot of people
objected to it, but I was one of the champions of joining them.
I felt they should be joined, so consequently, eventually after
a lot of discussions and debates, we did decide to join and create
a new society, which was a combination of these two and the new
society was called IMAPS or the International Microelectronics
and Packaging Society.
And about when was this merger?
This was probably in the late 70's. ISHM had been in operation
for some years before the IEPS came along. They were both in operation
for several years. So it was in the late 70's I guess when they
Okay. So IEPS was not a standalone society for that long.
The International Electronics Packaging Society, no. Five or six
or seven years, but that's all. And the ISHM had been a society
for that five or six or seven years plus maybe another five or
six years before that. So it was the older society. We created
this new society and even had a contest to decide on what would
be the logo and what would be the phrase that described it and
so forth. And those two combined, grew, and is now a very strong
About how large is it?
I don't know what the actual number of members [is] now. Probably
20,000 or 30,000. They have chapters in most of the major countries,
and then local chapters too like there's a Baltimore-Washington
chapter which has always been very active and it's been one of
those pleasant experiences again of working with a lot of guys
from different companies and the military.
When and what was Technology Seminars, Incorporated?
Technology Seminars was incorporated in about 1985. And how that
started, I guess, there was some seminar company in that time period
which would have been in the early 80's, who had most of their
seminars on electronics, wanted to have a seminar and advertise
that on electronic packaging so they asked myself and my friend
Bill Staley. He and I said yes, we'll present a seminar for you.
We did a couple of them. And after we did one we said why should
we do this? Why shouldn't we do it for ourselves? So we formed
Technology Seminars, Incorporated. And Bill has long since retired,
he's about 90 years old now actually. So we started doing seminars
in major cities. We developed a flyer and we sent out these flyers.
We would commonly for a fair number of years do a half dozen or
more a year, say one in New York, one in Anaheim one in Washington,
one in San Francisco, you know, Seattle, all over the place. These
were very, very popular because there were an awful lot of people
in material supplier industries like plastic companies, ceramic
companies as well as people in the electronics industry who hadn't
caught up with this term electronic packaging yet. It was new or
relatively new. In fact there was a standing joke going around,
what is electronic packaging, the box that you put the modules
in? There were an awful lot of people who needed to know what really
was electronic packaging and what were the parts of it and what
were the important things. So Bill and I put together this three
day seminar which we did very broadly and publicly. We did them
in Marriott Hotels all over the country. It wasn't very long before
people attending those seminars would say, hey, would you come
and do it at our plant? So we did that too. We developed a series
of seminars some by ourselves and some by other people, just like
contributing authors in handbooks. We also did them onsite as we
call them, go to people's plants. We did the public ones. We also
did them jointly with some universities. For instance we and the
University of Maryland put together a series which we did at College
Park. And one time we did some with the University of Dayton. And
of course in the end that got us into teaching the course at Johns
Hopkins university as I mentioned. And so that's how these things
Now did you start this while you were still an active employee
here at Westinghouse?
Yes, for the first couple of years. And initially that presented
some questions in my mind but I made sure that my boss knew about
it and what we were doing. Also everything we did was open material.
We didn't include anything Westinghouse and nothing proprietary
so we handled that very carefully. I only had the technology seminars
for about two years then I retired and did it and the books full
time. So there wasn't much of an overlap there but we were very
careful about how we did it.
at Westinghouse, Retirement
Did you do any teaching internally at Westinghouse?
Yes I did. Westinghouse had a college of science and engineering.
These were courses in the evening, a wide variety of courses. It
was well-accepted in Westinghouse. No outside people attended so
we could use any Westinghouse material we wanted in these courses.
And so yes - for a fair number of years, I would say maybe 10 years,
I taught in this. I would teach various courses on materials, on
electronic packaging, on thick film technology, on molding processes
and plastics and electronics, a variety of courses in that college
What sort of people tended to take those courses within the company?
Well, there would be people from departments other than our own
because chemistry and chemicals are not things with which most
people are familiar. And they're sort of a mystery to people who
haven't studied chemistry and plastics. You don't speak the language.
So all these mechanical engineers, electrical engineers who needed
to use these things needed to know more about it. And environmental
engineers, quality engineers, all of them. So those people attended
What led you to retire from Westinghouse in 1987?
Well a couple of things. First of all I had 33 or so years [of]
service. I was getting more and more interested in seminars, teaching.
We taught internationally once I retired. We taught in Europe,
in Asia. In fact I've been all over Japan - I did a lot of teaching
there. And so wanting to get into those more, having as many years
as I did. On one of my visits to Japan, I came home and right about
the time I decided to retire, I found that my wife had breast cancer,
which she recovered from. But I felt I really needed some time
too. With all these time requirements, along with my interests,
and the years I had, I decided to retire and go into the other
things full time.
How would you characterize your career at Westinghouse as a whole?
We talked about a lot of individual things.
Well, I regard it as a very, very good career and a very fortunate
career getting involved with Westinghouse. Not only in all of the
roles that I participated with for all the different departments
over the years, but in the friendships I made and people who eventually
became teachers for me in my TSI technology seminars. The associations
with Westinghouse over the years have spawned out into a variety
of other interesting areas. It was, as I say, a family operation
and it was a very good total experience. I loved it.
at Johns Hopkins and Maryland
Can you tell me a bit about the teaching you did back at Johns
Yes. As I mentioned, I graduated from Hopkins. I had a very good
advisor, a guy who I became very close with, very familiar with
and very close to. He was an advisor there for many years after
I left Hopkins. I kept in touch with him a little bit now and then.
And once he found that I was getting pretty well versed in advanced
technologies and material and plastics in the electronics industry,
and he was a chemical plastics guy himself, he realized that the
guys graduating from Hopkins had had no exposure at all to this.
In fact, I had the same experience with the University of Maryland.
I did this for both of them.
What they did is they both invited me to do a senior seminar each
year. It was one afternoon on chemistry and chemicals in electronics.
Of course, it got into circuit boards and modules and plastics.
I did this for a fair number of years at Hopkins. The engineering
faculty there decided that they really wanted to get more deeply
into electronic packaging and materials. Since I'd been doing these
senior seminars all that time and they got to know me and I knew
the field, they asked me if I would put together a course. It was
not a daytime course. It wasn't an undergraduate course. It was
an evening course and adult education and most of the people had
their degree already. They were working in industry. We taught
this course, myself and some of the guys who had worked with me
in my seminars and in my books. In our series with Hopkins we'd
have one night on thermal management or one or two nights. Well
I'd have a thermal management specialist come in. Another night,
other subjects. So we did this course for I guess three or four
years in the late-80's and the early-90's. That did get them involved
into some of this stuff and got them some research contracts in
that field and that was an interesting experience.
The University of Maryland is interesting too, in that neither
Hopkins nor Maryland had any courses in this subject and University
of Maryland asked me if I would come down and do the same thing,
do this senior seminar, which I did for a number of years. As it
turned out the University of Maryland decided they wanted a whole
curriculum in this, so they did establish a curriculum and they
found a very good guy to be head of that department. And it has
been very, very successful and still going very strong today. About
a year ago or so this engineering department, and I guess other
departments too, have what they call the invited lecturer so they
give it some fancy name. They asked me if I would do a lecture
in their distinguished lecturer series. They asked me if I would
come and give a presentation to the engineering department, the
whole department, which I did, and which was very, very pleasant.
I explained to them a lot of the stuff like we've been through
today. Of course a lot of these guys were taking courses in some
of this subject, and I've gotten to know that whole staff and work
with them very well.
As kind of an interesting side thing, I had [been] doing book
reviews for IEEE. I had accumulated a ton of books, more than I
could store in a house anymore plus my own books, [and] I wanted
to give [them] to the University of Maryland because I was working
very closely with these guys at that time. So I gave them a ton
of books, a copy of each of my books, plus all of these books which
I'd reviewed and no longer wanted to hang onto and then they put
them all in a library in the conference room center which they
named after me.
Yes. That was a pleasant thing. Interestingly, a couple of years
ago I took one of my grandsons who was getting college age on a
tour of Hopkins. I hadn't been through the new Hopkins library,
it's been there for a good while now, maybe ten years or something,
this new large library. And I thought doggone, I'm going to go
into this thing and see if they have any of my books on their shelf.
I asked the guy at the information desk. I told him who I was and
he looked up my name. And he said yes, we have one. Then, we have
another one. Then he was really funny because he said we have 28
of them. They had 28 of my books in their library. And he called
his boss and his boss's boss. I felt like the hero of the day or
something. So I've had a good bit of involvement. And the reason
I had involvement with the University of Dayton was because I did
a lot of work with the Air Force at Dayton on these technology
programs I mentioned. I did a number of seminars out in that area.
At the University of Dayton, one of the professors there wanted
to get some seminars on this and so I did a few. So there's been
an interesting career professionally, teaching and books and so
One minor point I'd like to circle back to. What was the name
of your advisor at Hopkins that later got you involved?
Ralph Witt. He is deceased now too, of course. He was fairly old
at that time but I had a good advisor there and good people at
Westinghouse, good people at McGraw-Hill.
Well it certainly sounds that you've kept very active in the years
since your retirement from Westinghouse.
I have and I still do to some degree, but needless to say, I'm
tapering down a good bit now at this point.
They're still all friends and so you have some really interesting
associations and if you have a little bit more room on your tape
I'll tell you about a couple of these interesting things -
Yes, there's a bit more room on the tape.
Okay. Well one of the guys I worked with in professional activities
over the years - and he wasn't a Westinghouse guy, he was with
Raytheon or some other company. I never knew this until long after
I retired and he was retired, but it turned out that he was a forward
observer for General [George S.] Patton. And here he was
What was his name?
I'll give you his name in just a minute. But anyhow, he got old
and his heart had problems. He moved in with his son who lives
in Milwaukee someplace. He had kept notes over the years from being
in the Army and his work as a forward observer for Patton. His
daughter-in-law - can you imagine this, this is not his daughter
but his daughter-in-law now - she was so attached to him that she
decided she would take all those notes and write a book about his
time as a forward observer for Patton. Which she did. And she asked
me if I would serve as editor for her which I agreed to do. And
I get this big thick manuscript. It was way too big of a book.
No one's going to buy a book that big. So we edited it down. Wayne
Martin is his name.
So out came this book of a forward observer for Patton which is
now on Amazon and all these other places. So here's a guy like
that who I worked with for years and didn't really realize he had
done that. And another even more interesting thing, associated
with this museum and with Westinghouse and Hopkins, is I worked
and associated for a lot of years with a guy named Jake Beser -
does that name ring a bell to you?
Yes. At least one other person I've interviewed has mentioned
Well he of course, for those who don't know, was the only person
who flew on both of the strike aircraft for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
About 30 years after the atomic bomb raids and the war was over
and he worked at Westinghouse, one of the morning shows like Good
Morning America or one of those shows had him go over back to Japan
and meet with the mayors and the people of those towns and see
how they took to him. And they had a little five minute segment
on their program for each of about two weeks. He came back and
wrote a book called Revisiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course
I have an autographed copy of this book. I think there are none
of them left, you can't get them anymore. It's a nice little book
and a paperback but I understand it can be bought for like $600
or $700.So having been the only guy on those flights, I mean there's
no one else like that, just him. So he started to write a second
book on Nagasaki. Well, poor guy got ill and had cancer.
Towards the end of his life, and I didn't know it was towards
the end of his life yet, I was program chairman for a conference
on materials and electronics in Baltimore. This is probably about
20 year ago, like 1990 or 1991 or '92. So I was program chairman
for this conference which was being held in Baltimore. I invited
Jake to be the keynote speaker. And this was very funny, he titled
his paper The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a good
title, except that 30 or 40 years after the war, Japanese people
were going to these conferences. [Laughing]
[Chuckling] Of course.
The conference people said no, we can't give it that title, we've
got to change that. Well he was a pretty hardnosed guy and I thought
no way is he going to change that. But he did change it. Well,
we get up to within a couple of weeks of the conference and he's
our keynote speaker, as I say, and he died. So he was never able
to present that. So I had his last paper that he ever wrote. And
his son read that a couple of weeks ago or a month ago here in
the museum. He had a bumper crowd out there listening to it. And
his son who read this paper a couple of weeks ago decided he would
take over all the notes that his father had and write this second
book about Nagasaki for his father using all his father's notes.
Well, the son got very ill. And he still is. So another guy (Jack
Spangler) took over and started working with him and they did finish
So these are some of the interesting people you meet in your work
and your professional activities and over the years. There were
a lot more but those are a couple interesting ones.
Another interesting person was when we were making our trips into
Japan. Fortunately my wife was able to go with me through a lot
of these, so we got to see most of Japan. But anyhow, after the
war the Japanese had to write a new constitution under the guard
of [General Douglas] MacArthur - it gave women rights that they
never had before, like they could be elected to government offices
now. Before no way could they do that. Well, it happens among the
people that we met over there over the years was this one lady
who became the first lady elected official. She and her family
were very interesting. When we first met them, she and her husband
- her husband has died now - she had two little children about
four-years-old and six-years-old who are now 40 years old or something
like that. We have over the years kept really close contact with
her. This lady who was the first elected woman official came over
to visit us about a month or so ago. We took the whole family -
she had her two children who are now in their 40s as I say, and
their grandchildren - to the Hopkins Club and had a very good day
with them. But you know it's interesting how these things fan out
over the years.
Well, unless you have anything further you'd like to add, I think
I've asked you everything I knew to ask you.
Well no, I think we've covered it pretty well. It's really been
a pleasure presenting for you and the IEEE audience.
Likewise, it's been a pleasure listening to you talk about your
career and activities.
All the people I've worked with and my whole career have just
been great. Thank you again and I hope it's useful to someone.
Absolutely. Okay, guess we're done.