About Mel Hotz
Mel Hotz was born in Stamford, Connecticut. He attended NYU for
electrical engineering after graduating high school, but soon had
to leave to help with the family business, and then took immediate
induction into the Navy during World War II. He attended Navy Electronics
School, and was discharged from the Navy after serving two
years and three months. Hotz then went back to NYU and graduated
in 1950. He then began working at Norma-Hoffmann ball bearing company
where he maintained and modernized the plant, leaving in 1953 for
Admiral Radio in Chicago. At Admiral, Hotz worked on Geiger counters
and a tank TV system. Hotz then came to Westinghouse Baltimore,
building field test equipment before moving to electronic warfare
and countermeasures. In 1966, he became an engineering manager,
later a program manager. He worked on many important projects while
at Westinghouse, including ALQ-119, ALQ-153 and DIDS. Hotz retired
from Westinghouse in 1988. Remaining active since his retirement,
Hotz served 17 years on the Maryland State Board for Professional
Engineering, two years as Vice President for the National Council
of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) for which he
earned a Distinguished Service Award, and currently works on the
Commission on Service and Volunteerism and as a Medicare counselor.
He was also active in the IRE in college and later the IEEE Baltimore
Section, eventually serving as chairman, and was Transactions editor
for the Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society. Hotz is also
an IEEE Life Member.
In this interview, Hotz talks about his education, time in the
military, his long career as an electrical engineer, and his activities
since retirement. He recounts many memories from his Navy days,
including his time at Navy Electronics School and VE Day, and the
changes at NYU before and after the war. Hotz also
talks about his various jobs at Norma-Hoffmann, Admiral Radio and
Westinghouse, discussing the various projects he was involved in.
His role in management is also covered, as well as the manufacturing
process and working with other countries while at Westinghouse,
including Israel and England. He also discusses his sevice on the
Maryland State Board for Professional Engineering and NCEES, along
with the criteria for becoming and remaining a professional engineer,
and Hotz’s ideas about ongoing education. Hotz also talks
about his involvement with first the IRE and later IEEE.
About the Interview
MEL HOTZ: An Interview Conducted by Frederik Nebeker, IEEE History
Center, 13 April 2010
Interview #540 for the National Electronics 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,
MD 21203 and to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39
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:
Mel Hotz, an oral history conducted in 2010 by Frederik Nebeker,
IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA at the National Electronics
Museum, Linthicum, MD, USA
Interview: Mel Hotz
Interviewer: Frederik Nebeker
Date: 13 April 2010
Location: The National Electronics Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
This is Frederik Nebeker of the IEEE History Center. It is Tuesday,
the 13th of April 2010. I’m here at the National Electronics
Museum to interview Melvin Hotz. Could we begin by hearing where
and when you were born, and a little about your family?
I was born in Stamford, Connecticut into a family of three. I’m
the youngest - I have two older sisters. At this point, one is
deceased, but one of them still lives in Connecticut. I get to
visit every now and then. My dad owned and operated a toy shop
in our town, and he did that for most of the years that I remember.
Before that he was a shoe salesman and he traveled up and down
the eastern seaboard, but my recollection is more of the toy shop.
So you grew up in Stamford.
Grew up in Stamford and attended the local high school. As a matter
of fact, about two years ago or so, I went back for the 65th high
Where I didn’t recognize anybody, but I was glad I went.
I’d never been to a high school reunion before, and it was
an interesting thing to do. I do get back to Connecticut every
now and then. I still have, as I say, my sister there, also other
relatives that I visit now and then.
When you were growing up, were you interested in science and technology?
Yes. When I was a kid I had some friends, and we all had our workshops
in the basement. I had what I would characterize as a pretty elaborate
little workshop. I piped my own gas into the workshop area so I
could have my Bunsen burner going, and we did some chemical things
and electrical things. Even as a kid, I did a little electrical
work around the house and even for my uncle that had a shop in
town. I remember installing an outlet for him in his store.
Did you get into amateur radio at all?
Not really. A friend of mine and I tried to build a little crystal
set. And we did that, but we didn’t do much with it. We did
other little things, such as making electromagnets by winding copper
around a nail and seeing how heavy an item we could pick up. We
did many chemical experiments and fooled with switches and lights.
That’s about the science part of my life at that time.
Did you go straight to New York University from high school?
Well, I went there right after graduating from high school, but
only for a very short time. That was during the war period, and
NYU had what they characterized as the accelerated course. While
I was there, my dad suffered a stroke, so I had to quit and help
out in the family store, which I did, and he, amazingly enough,
recovered. I would say he recovered completely and was able to
get back in the store again. Around that time I was eligible for
the draft. So I elected [for] what at that time they called immediate
induction. When you did that you could select your service. That
was the only benefit you got. I was going to be drafted anyway
in a very short time, but by doing that, I was able to select the
Were you able to select your area within the Navy?
No, you weren’t able to select that, but when you went to
boot camp, they try to figure out who you were and what you could
do. Eventually I took what was called the Eddy Test. And that led
to my going to the Navy Electronics School.
Where was that?
It was located actually in three places. They had what they call
the basic, the primary, and the secondary school. It started in
Chicago with the basic, and we were housed in a school building.
We actually lived in there. They had rooms set up with bunks, and
we stayed there, I don’t remember exactly, something like
two or three months. Then there was primary school, and I had to
go down to Gulfport, Mississippi.
I know of the Air Force base in Biloxi next to Gulfport.
At that time there was no Air Force base, but there was a little
Naval training center right in Gulfport. We were there probably
two or three months, and then it was secondary school, which was
back at Chicago at Navy Pier. Navy Pier afterwards became part
of the University of Illinois and is now a tourist attraction.
I know it, yes.
It was great going through all that. We actually learned an awful
lot about practical electronics.
Was there radar?
Yes, and communications, radar, sonar systems. They had big tanks
where we could operate the entire sonar systems like it might be
on a ship.
As it turned out, I was in school, I guess, the better part of
a year, perhaps even longer. By the time I was assigned to a ship,
the VE Day came. It just so happened that I was on leave on VE
That was in May of ’45?
Yes, something like that. I was home in Connecticut, in Stamford.
Stamford is about 45 miles from New York City. So a friend of mine,
also a Navy guy, both of us in uniform, hopped on a train to be
in Times Square on the VE Day. I’m sure you’ve seen
The famous one of a nurse getting kissed.
Yes. As a matter of fact they have a statue of that in Sarasota.
It’s about two or three time’s life size, very good
statue made from that photograph. And I was there, doing that.
In that crowd of people, my friend that was with me - I guess
you could say he drank too much - I put him in a doorway and I
said "Look, you stay here. I’ll get some coffee and I’ll
come back and try to help you." Well of course, there was a tremendous
amount of excitement, and all the stores were closed. There wasn’t
anything open, and you couldn’t get any coffee. I came back
to tell him that, and of course he was gone. What had happened
was that the Shore Patrol came around. They picked him up, and
they threw him on a truck. I found out later when I talked to him
back home. They took him some place and let him sleep it off, and
the next morning they let him go and didn’t do anything.
Interestingly enough, I met a cousin of mine - a young lad that
talked me into going to his house and staying the night, rather
than trying to go back to Connecticut. Which I did. I had been
wearing a white sailor suit, and we were standing on the running
boards of automobiles as well as all the other things that we were
doing, and my white uniform wasn’t white anymore. I didn’t
notice it during the night, but I did notice it that next morning.
It was so bad that I just made the decision to turn it inside out
and wear it that way on the train back home, which I did. That
was the VE Day experience.
So did you get assigned to a ship?
After that, yes. They took us to Guam on a troop ship, and I don’t
remember the course of events there. But VJ Day came.
Right, and by the time I got on a ship - it was a destroyer escort,
the USS Raymond - we were taking that ship back to the States,
and it was going to go into a mothball fleet. I took the ship to
Texas and actually helped put it into “mothballs.” Then
I was assigned to an electronic repair ship. I’m not sure
that I don’t have these two stories mixed up a little bit,
and I can’t remember which came first. But the electronic
repair ship was an interesting innovation. The idea here was that
a ship that was in battle might have part of the radar damaged
either by gunfire or any other reason. Or it might just stop operating.
They don’t have time or the material or the expertise to
fix everything. So what we would do, we would pull alongside, we’d
swap out the modules or whatever it took, take the damaged one
onto our ship, give them a good one, and we’d go off on our
way. We had all kinds of shops aboard that ship.
There must have been dozens and dozens of different radar systems
on Navy ships.
Yes, and we had a whole complement of radar systems operating
on our ship. We could take the damaged component and put it into
our system, get it operating again, and then it would be ready
for the next ship that we would encounter. That came about really
near the end of the war. But it was a neat idea, and we carried
an awful lot of spare parts as you can imagine, and we had shops
and could build things. We had all the machines that you could
think of. And we had the radar operating on the ship. And from
there I was discharged.
Was that after two years of service?
Two years and three months.
Returning to NYU, IRE
I went back home and went back to school, to NYU.
You were in electrical engineering there?
Yes, I took electrical engineering and graduated in 1950.
How was your experience there at NYU in engineering?
As you can imagine, there were other people my age. At that point
you know I was older.
You must have had the GI Bill.
Yes, I had the GI Bill, which was a wonderful thing. I think that
was one of the greatest things that our Congress did in a long,
long time, because it certainly helped a lot of people.
Anyway, when I went to NYU before the war - when I was at the
accelerated course - I commuted from Connecticut. It wasn’t
a long trip at all, but there were a lot of New Yorkers that went
to NYU, as you can imagine. If they had a bad paper, they’d
say to me, "Hey when you cross the state line, throw this in the
garbage for us." They would think I was really going far. I think
people from Brooklyn probably traveled as long, or longer, than
I did going to Connecticut.
After the war, when I came back on the GI Bill, it was a different
situation. My tuition was being taken care of. The GI Bill was
just wonderful, and not only that, we also got a stipend. I really
can’t imagine a job where you could go work for two and a
half years and have enough money to go to college for four. So
it turned out to be a bargain. Of course, I was lucky that my war
time experience was mostly in school. I was one of the lucky ones,
and I know that. So NYU at that point had a lot of veterans, and
they even had what they called a veteran’s dorm. It was a
separate building for all of the guys there who were ex-military
types. We were a little older, and we had a great time, and at
that time we had an IRE chapter and an AIEE chapter.
I was quite active in the IRE chapter. I was the chairman of our
group, and we would get speakers to come and talk to us periodically.
We always would go to the local bakery and buy a bunch of cakes
so that after the meeting we would have cakes and coffee for everybody.
Of course, the veteran’s dorm always got the leftovers, which
was a little bonus there. That was my introduction to IRE.
So that IRE chapter functioned well?
Yes. We did it for I don’t recall now how many years, but
I think it was for the entire time I was at NYU.
I know IRE was growing fast after the war.
Yes. The AIEE was more for power people, and IRE was for the electronics
guys. I don’t recall the day that they merged [to form IEEE].
It was 1963.
Yes, quite a bit after college. Anyway, that was my introduction
to IRE, or you could even say to IEEE.
When I got out of college, my first job was with the Norma-Hoffmann
ball bearing company in Stamford, Connecticut. We manufactured
ball bearings of all types and sizes.
Were you particularly interested in returning to Stamford, or
was it more because that job was available?
No, I hadn’t really left because when I was at NYU I was
home every weekend, and I helped out in my dad’s store. I
was home for everything that you could imagine. It was a little
different, as I look back on it. I had come back from being several
years in the Navy, and the thought of going to some school far
away wasn’t on my mind like it is today with young people
because I had already been away. When you’re in the service,
the idea is to get back home not to go away, so I was able to live
I can understand.
After I got out of the Navy, I worked at my dad’s store.
I graduated, I’m an engineer now, and I did get a job at
this ball bearing factory. I might mention that I had worked there
before I went into the Navy, and I guess I went back there and
got a job again.
This was a job for an electrical engineer?
Well I was the electrical engineer, but really the all-around
engineer, who worked for the plant engineer. What we did, we maintained
the plant. This plant was really an old fashioned plant. You can’t
imagine what it looked like in there with great big motors, I don’t
remember, 30 horsepower or so, up in the ceiling.
So they still had the overhead shafts?
Overhead shaft with all of these belts running to all of these
machines. These machines were mostly lathes for turning the bearings.
They made bearings this big around, and they made them no bigger
around than a pencil. The bearings all had little balls in them,
and they made the balls and they made the rollers for roller bearings,
and all that. Every kind of a bearing that you can imagine. Of
course during the war that was a big important factory. We began
to modernize the factory, and one of my jobs was to get rid of
all of those overhead shafts and all the belts, and motorize all
the machines. We also had a two phase 220-volt distribution system
Did you generate your own power there?
No, we didn’t generate our own power. It came in, and we
had transformers - I’ve forgotten the numbers now, but it
came in at a high voltage and we dropped it down to 440-volts and
distributed it throughout the plant. Much of the plant was still
on the 220-volt two phase system. What we did, we put in a 440-volt
bus duct system. This is something that hangs in the ceiling; it’s
just primarily plates that carry the electricity. Then, using special
plugs, power is dropped down to the machine. We put that throughout
the plant. And little by little we changed the drives for each
machine from overhead belts to individual motors.
So you’re installing electric motors on these lathes that
previously were driven by a belt?
Right, they dropped away the belts. Eventually we replaced all
of the 220-volt lines and changed to the 440-volt bus duct. Then
the other big thing was that we built a new building. I was the
electrical engineer for this new building, and as you can imagine,
I didn’t know enough. There was an architect and so on, and,
I don’t recall now, but there was an electrical contractor
that did all of the construction for the building.
We had transformers on the property that dropped the high voltage
to 440-volts [and] distributed it throughout the building. Dry
type transformers provided 110-volts for utilities. When we were
putting up the new building, we needed another substation, so we
built another pad with big oil-cooled transformers. The transformers
we had were on one end of our property - my idea was to put the
new ones on the other end of the property and have the bus duct
go around and reconnect, so that if something happened to one bank
of transformers, the other one could still carry the load, or part
of the load, at least for some period of time.
Well luckily, there was an IEEE meeting in New York. I guess it
was AIEE at that time. I had an opportunity to present my plan
to everybody in that meeting. In those days we used overhead projectors,
and I had a drawing. I got up and presented my plan, and everybody
said, “You can’t do that! Don’t you know about
short circuit currents?" And of course I didn’t. I didn't
You were not trained as a power engineer, I take it.
No. They pointed out that you can’t safely make that connection.
I was flabbergasted because here I thought I’m doing all
these things properly. They said, "Well it’s not a problem,
just leave a gap someplace in the line so that this set of bus
duct is supported by one transformers system, and the other is
by the other system. Just don’t interconnect them. Just leave
a gap there. Now if something goes wrong with one of them, you
can always close that gap and operate. You know, it would operate
the way you had hoped it had operated, you could still keep the
place going." And THAT was the way we did it.
So it was good you took part in that AIEE meeting.
AIEE saved the day for me. That was quite an experience to have
an opportunity like that from a voluntary organization. You just
don’t know what you’re going to get. Like they say,
you only get out of it what you put into it, and you never know
how it’s going to affect you.
I see you stayed at the ball bearing company until 1953.
Here I am - I guess I was in my early 20s - still living at home.
I thought, I don’t want to live at home any longer. My own
thinking was that it would be insulting to my parents to leave
the house and find a place to live in Stamford, so my solution
was to move to Chicago. I had been in Chicago during my Navy Pier
days, and I had a good time in Chicago. I liked the city. My brother-in-law
was an electrical engineer, and he worked for a company in New
York that was doing business with Admiral Radio in Chicago. He
got me an interview there, and it was pretty easy to get a job
at that time. In any case, I got a job with Admiral Radio.
Doing what, specifically?
Admiral Radio had a military wing, and I started out with Geiger
counters. We were building these Geiger counters. We had a contract
from the Navy or maybe the Pentagon, but it was the Navy building
in Washington that I went to. And me and another fellow whose name
I can’t recall right now made some presentations on our progress.
Everything was going fine until the Navy decided they didn’t
need these any longer, and they terminated the contract. This,
of course, is something I learned that happens from time to time
when you’re doing military work. We had gotten to the point
where we had built the prototypes, but we never got production
going. At that time Admiral had a contract to build a TV system
for a tank. We had a huge tank that came into the plant on a flatcar
in the winter, and it was amazing to me how long that tank was.
It was so cold that you couldn’t go into it, even though
we had it indoors, because all that steel just was like a big ice
house. Anyway, I was helping on that contract.
The idea was that there would be better visibility from inside
the tank using a TV system than looking out through some slits.
Yes. It was not for controlling the gun. It was early in TV and
it was innovative.
I imagine that Admiral was getting into the TV business, or was
in it already.
Yes. We were co-located with the factory that made TVs and record
players and radios.
Were those good years for Admiral?
Yes, they seemed to be doing quite well. It was a well known brand,
and I liked working there. It was fun, and I liked Chicago. I had
a good time. But as things happen in a career, you get to the point
where it’s time to look for a new job. Not only that, I had
some things going on in my personal life. I thought it was time
to move on.
Westinghouse, Test Equipment
I went to one of these head hunters. One day they called me up
and said, "Hey, we’ve got an interview for you with Westinghouse
in Maryland," Baltimore I guess he said. I said, "I don’t
need you to get me an interview with Westinghouse. I could call
them myself and get an interview." I said, "I thought you could
find me something, you know, a little different." The idea of working
for a big company like that was not attractive to me at that point.
It wasn’t that you were bothered by continuing in defense
Not at all. Then he said, "Okay, I hear you. But look, they’ll
pay your way, and Baltimore is just a hop, skip and a jump to Stamford.
You can go home and visit your family, and it won’t cost
you a cent." He said, "It’s up to you." And I said, "Well
that’s interesting. I’ll do it."
At least you'd get the trip.
Yes, and actually that’s the way it happened. He was smart
enough to talk me into doing it for that reason. I came to Baltimore,
and I had an interview. They offered me more money than I was making
at Admiral, and I took the job.
What job was that?
At that time, Westinghouse had the plant right next to the airport.
They were expanding, and I interviewed for building test equipment.
Westinghouse was building radar systems, airborne radar systems
mainly in the part I interviewed for, and the Air Force needed
test equipment to test the systems that Westinghouse was selling
to them. So they had a separate group that built test equipment
that would then be sold to the Air Force to support whatever radar
systems they had.
So this was for field testing of units?
Field testing, yes. And that’s what I did. One of the projects
was a noise figure test set, that’s what it was called. It
was a small box about a foot and a half wide by about ten inches
tall. Inside you had all the parts you needed to run a noise figure
test on a radar system. I believe that they have one of those sets
here in the museum. I know I saw it at one time.
So you were working on the design of that set?
My design, the whole thing. We designed it, we made breadboard
parts for it, we put it together, we designed the box and the installation,
and we had a handbook that went with it. We had technical writers
that actually prepared the handbooks, but we helped them write
This was designed for a particular radar system?
That’s a good question. I think it was, but I can’t
really recall that. I don’t think it was in a universal set,
but I’m not sure.
And how long were you on that effort?
I worked in the test equipment area for several years. I worked
on other things. We also built a side looking radar test set. Westinghouse
built a radar system that they called a synthetic aperture system,
and we built a test set for that. We had several of us working
on it. I was the lead guy. As a matter of fact I have a patent
on that. The idea was that we would connect this to the radar,
and it would produce photographic images that would tell whether
the system was operating properly. We could take the radar output,
delay it and send back the signal. We would print this out on a
photographic paper, which then would be analyzed to determine whether
the radar was operating properly. That test set was about the size
of a desk, and it was a fun job.
Was this airborne radar?
But the test set was operated on the ground?
Yes, this was operated only on the ground, and the radar would
be installed in the aircraft and this would be out in front of
We worked on that for quite a while. We only built a few of them
because they didn’t need that many. That was an interesting
project. I also worked on other test equipment projects.
Countermeasures, ALQ-119, Management
Then I got a promotion, I guess is the way to say it.
I moved into electronic warfare.
Was that in 1966, the engineering manager position that you’re
Yes, that’s exactly right. They offered me a job as an engineering
manager of the ALQ-119. It was a pod that was a countermeasures
pod. The idea of these pods was that they could be hung underneath
the wing of many different aircrafts without requiring a tremendous
installation change. There would be some wiring for the control
box and so on, but only that. These could be jettisoned in the
case that they needed to be. The pod was about as long as a torpedo.
It looked a lot like a torpedo or a gasoline tank.
I’ve looked at some of these in the museum here.
Yes, they’re in the museum. We built a large number of these
Was this for the Air Force?
Yes, for the U.S. Air Force. I was the engineering manager, and
I don’t remember exactly how this all went, but sometime
after that I became the program manager for that device.
We built over 1,000 of them over a long period of time, maybe
it was 1500.
I think I understand what program manager is, but what is engineering
The program manager has all the talents that you can think of.
You have marketing, you have engineering, you have manufacturing,
and you have the money management side. And every program has at
least those things, maybe a few others. For the program, I was
the engineering guy. So if a program manager needed something in
engineering, he would come to me. The way we worked it then in
those days, we had various engineering departments. We would go
to them and say, "Hey, we need someone to design this gadget for
us, can you assign some people?" We would tell them what we want,
and we would set up the specifications, and how we wanted to test
it, and so on and so forth. They would do the actual design work
from those specifications.
So the team assembled for a particular ECM system had a certain
number of dedicated people, but then went out and got work done
by other Westinghouse people.
Exactly. I would say that we might have 50 engineers working on
the project, but they didn’t report to me as the engineering
manager. I might have a few engineers reporting to me, but not
the whole entire group. That way, I could devote my attention to
the job and not to the management of all of these people, which
would be done by the department that they worked for which was
probably a neat way to do it because managing a large group in
itself is quite a task.
I did do some of that when I was in test equipment, where I was
a supervisor and had to worry about salaries and so on. But this
was a little different. When I became program manager, then I was
the - you could say - person running the program for the company,
and I would be the main spokesman for the project with the customer.
That turned out to be a pretty successful project - we built many,
many of them.
Was this tail warning radar?
No, this was the ALQ-119, which was a pod that could be hung on
many different fighter aircrafts. That went on for quite a while.
You’ve listed here that in 1966 you were named engineering
manager to [the] electronic countermeasure system. Then you’ve
got the ALQ-119 listed as 1970 to 1981, and then 1981 to 1988 the
ALQ-153 tail warning radar.
Yes, that was the next project, the tail warning radar. That was
a radar that was going on the B-52 aircraft. The B-52, at that
point, was an old aircraft. For most of the pilots that flew a
B-52 at that time, the aircraft was older than the pilots. That’s
the way I like to say it. But interestingly enough, we did get
to become somewhat familiar with the aircraft. The Air Force would
take these airplanes to a depot, and they would strip them right
down to the metal struts that the aluminum is riveted to. They
would remove all of the skin, and you would see just the skeleton
there, and they’d rebuild the entire aircraft. Even though
aircraft was that old, they would put new wheels on it and new
wings on it. The only thing they seemed to never change is the
cockpit seats. You’d walk into the cockpit area and you’d
see paper cups laying all around on the floor. But it was a huge
aircraft, a really impressive thing to see. Our radar was mounted
in the tail of the airplane, way up in the tail, and it looked
backward. Pilots could not see backward, and the idea was that
this radar would see a missile coming up and would warn the pilot
that this is happening. He could do several things: he could take
evasive action, he could put out countermeasures, he could put
out flares, he could do something to help the situation. I got
on that project from the inception of the production part.
So this [is] a radar that has some screen that the pilot looks
at so he can see if anything is approaching from behind?
Yes. The pilot has a control panel (not a screen) in front of
him that gives him all the information on what the radar is seeing
and where it’s coming from. The antennas were on each side
of that tail, so he could tell whether it was coming from this
side or this side.
And there’s information if it is coming right toward the
Yes, so he could make a decision to do something. We had to set
up the operation to build it in the factory. We also thought when
we proposed this to the Air Force, that we were going to put these
on other aircrafts besides the B-52. That didn’t happen.
For various reasons, they didn’t buy them for smaller airplanes,
but they did buy them for the B-52, and we did supply them. If
you see a picture of a B-52, you can see the fairing where the
antenna is, way up on the tail.
So it bulges out?
Just a little bit on each side of that tail. You can see it. We
had a lot of interesting experiences on that job because we would
go to the various bases where the B-52s were, we would try to talk
about the system, explain a little bit to the people that were
operating it what it was like, and how it operated, and what it
So people were coming out and installing these at those bases?
No, they were installing them at the depots.
Okay, so the planes would go there, have it installed, and then
you would go out to the bases and explain.
Yes. We would go to the depots and the bases. There was a little
problem that came up one time with some wiring, or at least they
identified it as a problem. We identified it as a wiring problem.
And the thing was, we didn’t do the wiring, we just provided
the information for the wiring. That was done by others, at the
depots. We had to go out, though, and find out what the problem
was. We had our field engineers go out. I went out a couple of
times to this one depot, and they had ladders so that we could
go up where the tail was. There was a place to get at the wiring
there. I remember going and standing on the stabilizer. You would
think that you could make that thing bounce.
Like a diving board?
Yes, sort of like a diving board. But that thing was as solid
as walking on this floor. It was amazing to me. Not only that.
When you got up and walked on it, and you looked up at the tail,
it was just amazing how big that thing was. So that was a very
So they had the program manager climbing up on the tail of a B-52.
Yes. You could do whatever. That was one thing nice about being
a program manager - you got to do a lot of interesting things.
For our visits to the bases, we made a movie on the system that
we would show. The idea was, it would help describe the system
and we would leave [a] copy for them to use.
Of course they had handbooks for their own training. We had one
interesting time. The movie was classified. In those days at least,
when you were traveling with anything classified, it was double
wrapped and you were not supposed to take it to your hotel room.
The requirements were that if you were going to a base, you would
take it to the base and leave it with the people there. Then you
would go to your hotel and wherever. So we went to this base with
our package, double wrapped. I don’t remember how big it
was, but it was a reasonably sized package. We said, "We’ve
got this classified package, we want to leave it." The officer
at the entrance to the base looked at us. He was all shook up.
He was worried that we were leaving a bomb. He didn’t say
exactly that, but we knew that was what was on his mind. He had
to call somebody, and we were escorted to an office where they
made us open the package. Of course when they saw that it was what
we said it was, everything was taken care of.
This was in the ‘80s sometime?
Yeah, it must have been the ‘80s. It was interesting that
they were not prepared.
A suspicious atmosphere.
At least at that one location. But I guess I shouldn’t say "not
prepared," because they certainly were suspicious. They called
in extra help and they made sure that everything was all right.
We got a big kick out of it because we knew we were doing only
what we should have been doing.
When you look back on that program, I take it that things worked
Yes, it was a fun program. We had some problem from our financial
side because when we undertook the project, we undertook it with
the firm belief that the Air Force was going to buy more of these,
which didn’t materialize. So it left the remaining part with
a financial problem.
I had to go and explain this to some of the generals, which was
a very interesting experience for me. I had my financial guy. We
were in the motel. His name was Al Baikauskas. Al and I went with
viewgraphs (no Power Point then) and everything to make our explanations
and tell them why we were having financial difficulties. Al and
I are in the hotel room, and Al is asking me logical questions
that he assumed the general would ask. He’s asking me one
after the other.
This is your preparation for the meeting.
Yes. It’s got to be about midnight, and I’m getting
a little blurry eyed. I finally said, "Al, I’ve had it. That’s
enough. I’m calling it a night. Whatever is going to happen
is going to happen." So the next morning, we went to see the general,
and he did ask all these questions. Interestingly enough, Al had
asked me so many things that there wasn’t a question that
he could ask that I didn’t have the answer right on the table.
And while he didn’t like some of the answers, he had the
answer. And we went out of there, I would say, we went out satisfied.
I don’t know what the general was thinking, he never said.
But he didn’t berate us, he didn’t rave or rant, he
just listened. I don’t think he was happy with what he had
to hear, but he heard it.
So the Air Force covered the shortfall?
Yes, we made our concessions and agreements.
So Westinghouse was not unhappy.
Yes, we did what we had to do. I don’t recall specifically,
you know, this is 20 or 30 years ago, exactly how we came out financially,
but we completed the job.
And those systems were used on the B-52?
They were used, but of course by this time there was no more war.
So I don’t know of any incident where we saved a B-52.
Hopefully that would have happened, but I don’t know. That
From that I had a short stint on DIDS. Did I mention DIDS in my
Yes, the DIDS program to provide communication with the public
in the event of a nuclear event.
We had a short time when for Westinghouse - I think it was after
we went to the moon - there was a downturn in electronics, and
we were laying-off some people.
So early ‘70s?
I think that’s when it was. Anyway, I was interviewing some
people. We didn’t have to lay them off, but we said you’re
up for disposition. That means that you’re no longer working
for me or on my project, so you’ve got to find yourself a
job, hopefully in the company. If you don’t, we don’t
say this, but if they didn’t they would then be laid off.
I was interviewing the people that I had to tell this to, when
I got a phone call myself, from, I think it was, Ben Vester [a
Division Manager]. He said, "We’ve got a new job for you." It
was this DIDS program. Civil defense decided that in the event
of an atomic bomb exploding in the area, most everything would
be destroyed, but we would still want to communicate with the public.
The government would still want to communicate. So what we were
tasked to do was to build a hardened place where we could put a
transmitter, really a total broadcasting station.
For radio broadcasting?
Yes, radio broadcast. This would be underground, and it would
be a hardened site, resistant to EMP. We’d have transmitters
in there. It would have its own power generator and its own fuel
to run the generators for X number of days, or weeks, I don’t
recall now. This was to be built up in Aberdeen. The only thing
that we didn’t have, at that time, was a hardened antenna.
We had a 700 foot antenna that we were also erecting. We did build
this thing. We built it underground. Then the idea was that we
would build a certain number of receivers, and they would look
like little radios, home radios, plastic boxes, you know, that
would receive the information. And we did build it. We contracted
someone to build us the plastic.
This was for civil defense?
Yes. We had maps set up, and we figured how far an antenna would
reach. I think there were going to be seven or ten of these across
the United States, and the one at Aberdeen would be the prototype.
I was the assistant to the program manager. I was not the program
manager on that one, Zane Collins was the manager. We hired a company
to design the antenna for us. We had an architect for building
the thing underground. It had rooms in it for people to sleep,
septic facilities, and everything you could think of that you’d
need to survive. We built the transmitters here at Westinghouse,
and we actually built the thing underground. It had blast-doors.
I don’t remember all of the things it had, but it was buried.
The idea on the antenna - there was work going on -where an antenna
would be built that would be lying horizontally in the ground,
and in the event of a blast, it could be erected.
Oh, so after the blast it could be raised.
That was one of the ideas. Another one was that you’d have
something that would be tethered that could go up with a balloon,
and you know, after the blast. So those are things that were being
looked at. We never did actually build any of that, we just talked
But the hardened facility was built at Aberdeen?
Yes, the hardened facility was built. The antenna was built, the
600 foot antenna. It might still be there, I don’t know.
I often looked when I’m on the train. You can look over,
and I used to think that I could see where the antenna was. Lately
I have not noticed it, and I don’t know whether it’s
still up or not. We cleared the area all around because it was
a woody area. These were fun projects, they were different.
Now, did that get activated?
Well, what happened was that the threat of an atomic invasion
of the United States was reduced, and that was the only one we
ever built. We never built any of the others. We did build it.
I don’t believe it was ever manned regularly, but it was
operated, just to see that it would do it. Like many of these projects,
that’s as far as it went.
So that was somewhere around 1990?
No, no. That was a lot before 1990.
I’m trying to think. What happened then - I was getting
toward the end of my career, and we were building the next family
of countermeasure systems. The number just got away from me right
now, I can’t think of it. But it was a relatively new project,
but really not that new because it had been going on for years
in the development stage. Now they were getting ready to go into
production. They were having a lot of problems, and there was a
possibility that that could be something that I might work on.
And I was already looking at leaving.
In my mind, and I don’t know how familiar you are with the
manufacturing process in a factory like Westinghouse, but the beginning
of the project is where if you’re not gray-haired, you’ll
get gray hair. It’s getting things going and having a start
up and operating that is the difficult period. I kept thinking
to myself, I’m going to get on this project maybe. It wasn’t
offered to me yet, but the possibility was there. If I’m
assigned to that project, I’m going to go through the really
bad time and then I’m going to retire. And I thought to myself,
well I don’t want to do that. I guess I already had in my
mind that I’m going to retire, that I was going to retire
at 62 and a half. I then pretty much stayed on building spare parts
for the ALQ-153 at that point until I retired.
That was the end of my career at Westinghouse, which was a fun
career. I liked what I did, I got to travel all over the country,
and had an opportunity to go overseas several times.
Israel and Offset,
One of the highlights - I have some relatives in Israel - occurred
when my boss came to me one day. Are you familiar with the term
offset, when it comes to working with other countries?
When we sell a system to another country, the way we do it, Westinghouse
doesn’t call up Israel and say, hey, I’ll sell you
some of these and it’s going to cost you X number of dollars.
You do it through the government. It’s actually the government
that makes the deal, but you’re doing the supplying and you
get paid and so on and so forth. Well, the country that’s
getting this equipment has to pay a lot of money to the government
to buy this equipment. So they come back to the government and
say, hey, look, how about you’re buying something from us
to offset some of this cost?
They call that offset. So I get a call and I’m asked, Mel,
you got anything that they could build in Israel? I said, Israel?
I said, certainly! You know, I’m Jewish and I’m pro-Israel,
and when I heard that I said, absolutely! No question. What do
you want, how much do you want to build? What do you want to do
and how much? So we figured out what they could build for us, for
our system. It was like building something any place offshore -
we gave them the specifications and drawings of whatever we wanted
built. In this case it was printed circuit cards. We told them
how we wanted it tested, and in some cases we provided the test
equipment. In some cases we provide[d] the material, in some cases
they bought some of the material. It depends, you know, what is
easy to get and what’s difficult to get. They built these
things for us, and that was a fun thing, too. An opportunity to
go over there and see what they did, and how they did it, and to
make sure that we were satisfied with the way they built the things
So that was an experience. We also had times when we thought we
were going to sell some of these to England, and we worked with
a company over there. I recall we went some place over in England
and they put us up in what they call their White House. They had
like a campus where their plant was, and they put us up, and we
had a butler. In the morning somebody came into my room with a
newspaper and coffee and put it on the table. It was very nice.
So I said to my boss, I’ve got to send them something. They
were so nice to us, so we sent them a gift to put in the White
House. Actually we found some English china, and we packed it up
and shipped it to them. They wrote us back and said they’re
going to put it on their fireplace in their White House.
IEEE, Maryland State Board
What did you do on retirement in ’88?
Well in ’88 I’m newly retired. I was active in IEEE
at that point. Even before that, almost the entire time that I
was in Baltimore, I’d been active in IEEE in the Baltimore
section. I held all of the offices through, eventually, chairman
of the Baltimore section. I also played an active role in several
national activities. And after that I was usually the auditor of
the section books. I don’t really recall what other positions
I had, but that always sticks in my mind because we would go through
every year, and we’d write a report and tell them how they’re
doing financially and so on. At one of the IEEE monthly meetings,
the then chairman said hey, we’ve got a letter from the Maryland
State Professional Engineering Board, they have a vacancy in the
electrical engineering discipline, and we need to submit three
names that they’re going to give to the governor. So my name
was one of them. Eventually I was appointed by Governor [William
Donald] Schaefer to be a member of the Maryland State Board for
Please explain what that entailed.
Every state in the United States has a State Board for Professional
Engineers. What happens there is that if somebody wants to get
a license, to be a professional engineer, they have to apply for
it. They have to show their credentials, they have to document
a certain number of years of experience. If the board accepts all
of that, then they’re permitted to sit for an exam. There’s
two exams. The first exam is called the fundamentals of engineering.
And if they pass that exam, then they’re called an engineer
in training, and after four more years of experience, they can
sit for the professional engineering exam. It’s an all day
exam. If they pass that then they’re licensed as a professional
engineer. Now, what that means is that you can hold yourself out
to the public as an engineer. You cannot do that if you’re
not licensed. Now, people that work for a company, like Westinghouse,
do not need it because they’re not working for the public
directly. But you do if you work for a consulting engineer, if
you want to work on buildings like we’re in right now. All
of the electrical work in this building is done by a professional
electrical engineer. The same is true for all of the professions,
which could be mechanical engineering, civil engineering, or chemical
engineering. It’s civil engineering, as you could imagine,
that would have the most PEs in any state because buildings cannot
be built without a professional engineer to sign off on the drawings.
And most buildings are designed by civil engineers (and architects).
That’s the law, and that’s true in every state.
How long were you on the board?
I might just mention before I answer that, every board belongs
to an organization called the National Council of Examiners for
Engineering. It’s actually engineering and surveying. So
it’s called NCEES. That organization provides the examination
given by each state. They write the exam, and they score the exam
for us. The exam is given by all state boards across the United
States to all examinees on the same day, twice a year.
I was on the board for 17 years, and I was chairman for more than
half of that. You had to be reappointed by subsequent governors,
and I was for several of them. Finally, when it came to Governor
[Robert] Ehrlich, he didn’t reappoint me. So I was off the
board at the end of my term. It was a little over three terms because
I was on for part of a term in the beginning. So it was 17 years,
and it was a great job.
While I was on that I was elected as the Vice President of the
National Council for a two year term. That was an interesting time.
In addition to writing the exam, the Council promulgates a model
law that most of the states look at and try to emulate, so that
if you’re an engineer in Maryland you can easily get a license
in Jersey by reciprocity. You still must comply with certain state
requirements, but all the states try to make these reasonably close
so that it’s not difficult to practice in another jurisdiction
if another state license is required.
How much time did that job take, especially when you were chair
of the board?
I would spend about two or three days a week, but not for every
Council meetings would be a three or four day meeting at locations
throughout the United States. We had a formal state Board meeting
once a month, only once a month. But I would go into the office
many times. Usually I was there at least every week, and I’d
review all of the electrical engineering applications outside of
the board meeting. We didn’t to do that at the Board meeting.
You had to actually look at all of this paperwork that people would
I'll just recount what I characterize as a humorous incident.
This one engineer sent in a box that a vacuum cleaner came in.
You know, a pretty big box. Inside he had all of these loose-leaf
books, and some bound books, which described much of his experience.
I looked at these things, and I’m thinking to myself, I’m
not going to read all of this stuff, that’s ridiculous. Most
people would give you a little package, not that big. I called
him, and I said, "Hey, I got your box here, and I want you to know,
I’m not going to look at it." I said, "I want you to come
in and you tell me what your experience is." And he did. When he
came in, I didn’t berate him or anything, but I said, "You
know, you don’t expect me to read all that stuff do you?" He
said, "Look here, I did this, on this assignment I did this and
on another I was doing this.” After about 20-minutes of his
explanations, I said, "You’ve got acceptable experience,
but that’s not the way to present." We did permit him to
sit for the examination. That was a humorous incident.
Then I had one where this individual was designing outlets for
rooms like this. For years. I’m looking at his experience.
You know that’s not engineering, I mean, to decide you need
14 outlets in a room this size, and that you need a number 10-wire,
a number 14-wire, and whatever it is. Anyway, I called him in,
and I explained to him, I said, "You know, you’re not doing
engineering, you’re doing technician work." I said, "I
can’t allow you to sit for the exam with this experience." I
said, "You’ve got to tell your boss you want to do something
else." I thought I would get this huge argument. He sat there and
he listened, and he said "Okay, I understand." That was the end
of that. So, it was an interesting kind of a job
Well, you must have found it rewarding if you kept at it so long.
I really liked it, it’s the best volunteer job that I could
have. It was particularly good to be part of the council. We had
meetings all over the country. We met people from all over, with
the same interests and the similar problems. We could discuss them,
and we could formulate improvements in the model law. There were
other things that we did to help the profession. So that was an
excellent job, and eventually I was awarded the Distinguished Service
Award from the council.
Service and Volunteerism
After that, I was casting around, you know, what am I going to
do now? It’s going to be pretty hard to find something as
good and as interesting as that, and as far reaching as that. I
volunteered with the Baltimore County Police Department, and that
lasted a very short time. They had me entering information into
their computer system. When an officer goes out and he has an incident,
he writes up a three by five card with what happened, and that
has to go into the system. So I would key it into the system. I
kept saying, "You’ve got to find something that’s a
little bit more to it than this." But they couldn’t, so I
told them, "I’m sorry, I’m leaving."
Then I tried the Baltimore County Code Enforcement. I’m
sure they have one all over the country. These guys get a phone
call: my neighbor has a car parked there, there’s no license
plate on it, and it’s in their yard, and I saw it. I say
that’s against the law and they ask you do something. We’d
write this up, and then we’d send an investigator out, and
he’d say, "Yeah, he can’t do this." And they’d
notify the violator that the car had to have that removed by such
and such date. Or they could remove it and then charge him for
So, there they had me answering the phone. I got onto it really
quickly and I could field a lot of it myself without ever having
to do anything, but a lot of them were written up and then they’d
send an investigator out. But that got old rather quickly, and
so I finally left that. I got myself appointed by Governor [Martin]
O’Malley to the Governor’s Commission on Service and
Yes, I’ll give you my card so you can see what I’m
doing. The governor of the state wants to promote volunteerism,
as you can well imagine. One of the things that goes on is - I
don’t know if you’ve heard of it - the AmeriCorps programs.
There are hundreds of programs throughout the state with hundreds
and hundreds of volunteers. What happens is these programs are
non-profit programs funded by the national government as grants.
The non-profits send their application to us. We review these applications,
and then we make the decision [of] those that we want to send on
for funding. That’s one of the things we do. It’s interesting,
and I’ve participated in reviewing some of these grant applications.
We meet once a month formally, and as a matter of fact I have a
meeting coming up next Monday. They go around the room and everybody
would tell all of the things they’re doing, and they get
to me and I say I’m not doing anything! And it really bothered
me, because I wasn’t. I was going to the meeting, but I really
wasn’t involved in any of the service activities that a lot
of the other commissioners were. It turns out that a lot of them
are selected to be on the commission because they’re involved
We have a paid staff. And a paid administrator, I guess you’d
call him. I went to him and said, "You know I’m not doing
anything, I’m just here. It’s nice to be appointed
to the Commission, but I’m not doing anything." He hooked
me up with a Baltimore County agency, and now I’m a Medicare
counselor, which I do find interesting. I had to learn a lot about
I’ve been on Medicare since about 1990 or so. I knew that
when I go to the doctor I only pay 20 percent, and I have my “medigap” insurance
through Westinghouse, so didn’t pay any attention to it.
I really didn’t know anything about it. Now I’ve learned
a tremendous amount about Medicare. We have an office in Towson.
I go there once a week and field calls. The way it works is that
we have a screener. The screener gets the calls, she writes a sheet
on it, and then we call the person back. We say, "I understand
you’re looking for some information on getting a - whatever.
How can I help you?" I find it interesting. I’ve had to learn
a lot, and I’m still learning. People can be on Medicare
before they are 65 if they’re disabled. You have to learn
about that. So it’s an interesting thing, and I’m enjoying
it, and that’s what I’m doing right now. As a matter
of fact I’m going there right after this.
You’ve mentioned some of your activities relating to IEEE
and predecessor society IRE, also a little bit with AIEE.
Well, lately I have not participated in IEEE activities. I still
The magazine Spectrum?
Yes, I get Spectrum. I was going to say I still get the notification
when there’s going to be a meeting. The meetings are held
here, at this museum. Our Baltimore section meetings are held right
here. I think the last one was just last week. I still get notices,
and I keep saying to myself, why don’t you go to a meeting?
Frankly I’ve gotten to the age now where I don’t know
what I could do for them. I’ve already been through -
Yes, you've held pretty much all of the offices.
Yes, and I don’t find that I’m as interested in a
lot of the talks. I used to love to go to the meetings, and to
the big conventions.
Frankly, my interests [have] gone elsewhere - now that I’ve
been retired for 22-years.
I know that for three or so you were editor of Transactions on Aerospace
That was a fun thing. We had a big meeting in Washington, and
we had a lot of papers, and I was the chairman of getting the papers.
But IEEE couldn’t function without all of these editors
that are doing the work for these hundred or so publications.
Well, as I say if it wasn’t for IEEE I never would have
gotten onto that engineering board. I’ve always found it
interesting to be involved with IEEE. Some of my friends that are
electrical engineers are not even members of IEEE, I never can
understand that. I can understand certain ones not being active
in it, but to not even be a member and get the publications, and
read them. I have a stack of Spectrums. I keep saying I’m
going to read the rest of it one of these days. I usually thumb
through, but I don’t read everything. I’ll put it over
in my pile, and I’ll read it when I get a chance. The pile
is getting higher. And it’s amazing how many I have. The
other, I’ve forgotten the name of the other little magazine
that comes with it.
I do look at that more because it’s shorter. I have always
found IEEE to be a very worthwhile organization. As I say, early
in my career, going to IRE and AIEE meetings and presenting that
substation information, and then conferences even later. All of
the years going to conventions, usually in New York, where we’d
have all of the vendors there. You could go around in one day and
see 50 vendors that you could never cover any other way, to see
what’s coming, what’s new, what’s old. Westinghouse
always had an exhibit booth there.
You’re also a Life Senior Member of IEEE, and those of us
doing history are always grateful for the Life Members because
the Life Members Fund has been so important for history activities.
It’s wonderful when people stay with IEEE so long and support
Well, when you become a Life Member, there’s no reason to
not stay with it.
Right, but you have to stay with it for a long time to become
a Life Member.
I have always found IEEE to be a really worthwhile organization
to belong to. It was something that was helpful, including reading
the Proceedings. You know I’ve dropped some of the publications,
only because I know I’m not going to read them now. One of
the things I find myself doing, interestingly enough, is I was
never much of a book reader when I was younger. Now I’m trying
to catch up and read books that I never read when I was a kid.
Five years ago for the first time I read Moby Dick. And I just
finished Crime and Punishment. Very difficult book to read. You
know, it’s about 600 pages, and I don’t sit and read
all day long. So I renewed the book from the library, and they
wouldn’t renew it the second time. So I said, "That’s
not a problem, I’ll just get another copy of the book." So
I did, but it was a different -
Yes, a different translation. And the names changed. Not completely,
but somewhat. It’s hard enough anyway, because you know there
are all of those Russian names. They refer to nicknames, and you
can understand it if somebody is Robert and you say Bob. Then you
don’t have a problem, but what do you do in Russian? I mean,
you don’t know the Russian nicknames. But anyway, I just
finished reading that.
So you’ve become quite a reader.
I’ve read Monte Cristo, and Of Mice and Men. And I do remember
reading that when I was a kid, but I didn’t really understand
I’ve often thought that literature is wasted on people going
to school or college, because they’re not mature enough to
Not only that, you’re trying to rush through it to be able
to say you did it.
As far as being active in IEEE, I keep saying, "Maybe I’ll
go to a meeting." But I guess I haven’t been to a meeting
in about two years now.
Is there anything that I haven’t asked about - about your
career or anything else that you’d like to mention?
We talked about being in the Navy. When you’re in the Navy
all you can think about is getting out. I guess I could say I was
very lucky because I was the right age to be a fighting guy. I
never had to do that.
Also you got into electronics at a very good time, partly through
Yes, I would say that. Partly due to my brother-in-law who influenced
me on it. But the Navy was the place where I really got into it.
I remember taking what they called the Eddy test when I was in
boot camp. (This was a test to see if you should be sent to the
Navy electronics school). I didn’t really even know what
a capacitor was, I mean they had it in the test, and I don’t
remember how I answered it, but I‘m sure I didn’t know
what it was. So look at how lucky I was to get picked to go to
school during the age when I could have been on the fighting line.
You know, many of the people that I went to boot camp with ended
up on these assault boats that went to the islands.
I was on a destroyer escort for a while, and the ship itself had
been in combat. It also had been in a big typhoon, and the ship
heeled over so far that it ripped off the antenna way up on the
mast. Tore it right off and the waves made a big dent in the sheet
steel that is part of the front of the bridge of the ship. It was
amazing that it didn’t capsize altogether. So I missed all
of those things, luckily.
Many people I have been privileged to talk with got their start
because of military electronics training in World War II. You’re
an example of that.
Yes. I was going before into EE before I got into the service.
As I said, I did start at NYU, and my eye was on being an electrical
engineer, right from the start.
Were you thinking of electronics at that point?
I don’t think I thought either way. I don’t think
I thought of electronics, no.
Then it was basically radio as far as the civilian world went.
There was radio. The labs in school as I recall were not particularly
electronic labs, they were more power labs.
I imagine engineering schools may have been a little bit slow
to offer the curriculum for electronics as it was developing in
Yes. When you think about it, here I am working for Westinghouse,
which is on the cutting edge of technology. The things that we
built were astounding from my viewpoint. If you’ve looked
around in the museum here, you see some of the things that we built.
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a transistor
when I was in college. (Of course it hadn’t been invented
The other thing that I found interesting in my career in the engineering
board is ongoing education. I’m sure you know that in order
to get your license renewed in most states, you have to show that
you did ongoing education. I say "most states." When I left the
board there were about 17 or 18 states that had that on their books.
So that’s really not the majority. We talked about it in
our board many, many times, and I personally was against it. I
was never against education and continuing education, but I was
against the idea that the government says to somebody you must
maintain yourself as an engineer. I just didn’t think that
was the right way to go about it. I was negative about it, and
during my tenure, all the time while I was on the board, we never
had it here in Maryland. I’m not saying that was only because
I was against it, but I think that I did have some influence on
They’re talking now about doing that. The problem I have
with it is that a lot of the proponents of it are organizations
that make money on the courses. Many of my acquaintances in other
professions, I’ll hear them say, "Oh yeah, I went on a cruise.
Well, you know, I ducked in there and I signed the books so I got
the credit." I hear so many stories like that, it just turned me
off to education that comes that way.
Now, I worked for Westinghouse, and I found that if you don’t
keep up as a professional individual, you will fall by the wayside.
It isn’t that you will be building equipment that is going
to be lifesaving - you’ll never get near it. You will be
sidetracked to do something that you can do, but you’re not
going to be at the edge of things. I say to myself, what’s
wrong with that? If somebody is happy over here, just doing outlets
for 18 years or 25 years of his career and he makes X number of
bucks and he goes fishing whenever he wants, and he’s happy.
What’s wrong with that? Why does he have to apply himself
if he’s not interested? That’s the way I look at it.
I don’t see anything wrong with somebody who doesn’t
want to grow. I believe that everybody should want to, but I don’t
say that everybody must.
So, in Maryland, when a person has passed the exam, shown the
experience, then he or she remains a PE from then on?
Now. But I think they’re going to pass the continuing education
requirement. But I bet you that 85% of those that show that they’ve
got the number of hours - you know you have to get so many hours
- that 90% of those hours are nothing. They’re saying if
you go to an IEEE meeting, just an Adcom meeting, that you’ll
get X number of hours of credit. To me it’s a sham. It’s
a personal feeling.
Thank you very much for this interesting interview.
I enjoyed the conversation.