About Naomi McAfee
Naomi McAfee was born in Hart County, Kentucky in 1934 and grew
up on a farm on the Larne/Hardin county line. She majored in physics
at Western Kentucky State College and received her degree in 1956.
After graduating, McAfee began her thirty-eight year career at
Westinghouse with her first position as Associate Mathematician
in reliability engineering. McAfee was later promoted to engineer,
became the first female supervisory engineer at Westinghouse in
1966, and Section Manager in 1968. Over the years, maintainability
engineering and quality engineering were added to her reliability
group, and through this group she worked on various projects such
as airborne radar, APQ 120, AWACS, lunar camera and CAALS. She
retired from Westinghouse in 1994 and worked for a time with a
consulting firm. Throughout her career, McAfee was also involved
in organizations such as the American Society for Quality Control
(ASQC) and IEEE. In the ASQC, McAfee served as chairman of the
Electronics Division and in the larger society was executive secretary
and regional director. In the IEEE, McAfee was very active in the Reliability
Society and was elected society president in the 1980s, making
her more involved in the Institute at large on committees such
as TAB. McAfee is also the recipient of awards such as the ASQC
Edwards Medal in 1980 and Reliability Society Engineer of the Year
In this interview, McAfee discusses her long career at Westinghouse
and the various projects and groups she worked with. The issue
of women engineers is covered, such as the sparseness of female
engineers at Westinghouse until the late 1960s and the challenges
she faced as a female supervisor. The progression of McAfee’s
responsibilities – with maintainability and integrity added
to her original reliability engineering – is also talked
about, as well as her management style. McAfee also discusses the
atmosphere at Westinghouse Baltimore, where she spent her long
career apart from a short stint at Westinghouse Pittsburgh, as
well as changes at Westinghouse over the years.
Note: A short addendum from McAfee is added at the end of
the interview in which she notes a few of the topics not covered
during the interview.
Naomi McAfee has also been interviewed by the Society of Women
Engineers, of which she was president from 1972-1974. You
can find the transcript of that oral history here.
About the Interview
NAOMI McAFEE: An Interview Conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE
History Center, 18 February 2010
Interview #531 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,
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:
Naomi McAfee, 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: Naomi McAfee
Interviewer: Sheldon Hochheiser
Date: 18 February 2010
Location: The National Electronics Museum Baltimore, Maryland
Background and Education
This is Sheldon Hochheiser. It's February 18th, 2010. I'm with
the IEEE History Center. I'm here at the National Electronics Museum
in Baltimore, Maryland with Naomi McAfee. Did I pronounce your
Yes you did.
If you don't mind I'd like to start with a little bit of background.
Where and when were you born?
Well I was born in 1934 on a farm in Hart County, Kentucky. When
I was one year old my father decided that he would keep that farm
but he bought another farm and we moved to Larue County on a farm,
which had property in Larue County and Hardin County. In fact the
county line ran down through the middle of the farm. So depending
on what was going on and what was to people's advantage we were
either Hardin Countians or Larue Countians. I spent my first 16
years there before I left Glendale High School and went off to
college at Western Kentucky State College.
Were you interested in technology and science growing up?
Oh yes. The biggest fear my mother had was that she would leave
home and come back and find everything taken apart. I loved to
see how things worked. So at the time I went to college I was thinking
about majoring in chemistry but once I got there I found that physics
was of more interest. So I switched majors. But interestingly enough
when I went to talk to the head of the department about whether
I could major in physics, after we chatted for a while he told
me “I don't think a girl can do it, but I'm willing to let
you try.” And after that he was my greatest supporter. So
when I graduated in '56 with a Bachelor's Degree in Physics, I
didn't find out until years later that he would not let a recruiter
on campus unless they talked to me first. So when people talked
about having trouble getting jobs as a woman at that point in time,
I didn't have any trouble with interviews.
Coming to Westinghouse Baltimore, Security Clearance
And I had job offers. And the best one was here with Westinghouse
What made that seem to be the most attractive offer?
Well when I came to Baltimore most of the companies I interviewed,
when you talked to them, it was sort of like what can you do for
us, ABCD. Not only were they interested in what I could do for
them, but they were very good about telling me what they could
do for me. The people were friendly. They made sure I was able
to see the town, the area. The atmosphere was different plus the
fact it was the best money offer that I got.
That certainly helped. What was your first position here?
Well I came in as an Associate Mathematician because I had [a]
degree in physics, not engineering. And the job was to do things
like statistical analysis of parts that were failing, look at trends
of various activities and so forth. However, because I did not
have a security clearance, the first thing they did was assign
me [a] report to analyze some activity on a program. I wrote the
report. They brought it over and said now you need to sign this.
And then they classified it secret and I couldn't see it.
I found out later that that program was Bomarc. And a lot of people
did things like that and it wasn't an unusual story that they brought
you in, they gave you a bunch of "unrelated information” you
put it together and when you got through it was classified either
secret or top secret.
And what part of the organization were you in at first?
I was in reliability engineering which was part of the components
and materials organization
So you started off in reliability engineering.
Okay. I assume eventually you got the security clearance?
Well they didn't fire me so, yes. It took about six months at
that point in time to get.
It was a matter of how long the paperwork takes?
Oh yes. And so after six months I had the security clearance and
after that went onto a lot of other things. But the Bomarc job
was very interesting from the viewpoint that you could talk to
all of these people, they gave you all this information, you had
no idea what [it] was about.
Reliability Engineering, Airborne Radar and Typhon
Of course other programs that I worked on like the Aero 13 and
the APQ-20, no. Aero 13 and well it was something 21.
Well I can cheat. I can look at what you wrote down - the Aero
Yes, it was the Aero 21B. Did a lot of analysis, looking at parts
that were failing. We did shop follow to try to determine what
were the trends on some of the items that they were building, especially
ones that were having high failure rates and what we could do to
determine what the cause was and how we could prevent that. Of
course back at that point in time reliability engineering was "a
new field". And the reason was that during World War II, they had
a lot of equipment that was very unreliable and especially when
they got into the electronics area that things failed pretty often.
In fact, there was a statement that everything had a 5-hour mean
time between failure and electronic equipment would always have
a 5-hour mean time between failures. So what we were trying to
do was to look at ways that we could improve that. We didn't do
the design or the development. But we did analyze the activities
and what was going on and tried to determine how one could reduce
the probability of failure.
So then did the other groups in Westinghouse call you in because
your group was reliability, the people who knew about this sort
Yes. We were a service organization which was on call to the other
organizations. And not always liked, especially when you went in
and told somebody that ‘gee I've looked at this circuit and
you're overstressing all of your parts in that circuit.’ And
it was sort of like, ‘what do you know about that?’ But
that was fun. Nobody ever threw me out.
But I'm sure there were times when they would have liked to. But
it was an interesting time. We moved on to other programs. I first
started in the Air Arm Division where we had airborne radars and
so forth. So everything was very, well, comparatively small at
that point in time.
You're going to stick something in an airplane; you've got real
size and weight issues.
Yes. You had to have - you've got the size, you've got the weight
and you have the power constraint. Then I moved from that activity
to the Electronics Division working on a program called Typhon.
Typhon was a ship borne radar that had klystrons that
were taller than I am. And they had a lot of them. So when we ran
our first reliability analysis on that system, it was one of the
things where you added up probabilities of failures to determine
how long the system would work before it failed, the probability
that that system would fail was greater than 1. So we extrapolated
those results and said the system will fail 22 minutes before you
get it together. Well that of course wasn't the situation but the
idea was it was a very complicated system that used a lot of high-powered
parts. Of course this led us to look at what could be done to get
the failure rate down. So we came up with a concept called reliability
with repair. They had strings of klystrons so if you had one fail
you could move that one off line and put another one in before
the system went down. That was not a total set of redundancy, but
one of the first steps towards putting redundancy in the systems.
Promotion to Engineer, Quality Control
After a couple of years you went from being associate mathematician
to being an engineer?
Yes. That really was more of a way you progressed. You could start
out as an associate engineer or an associate mathematician. The
next step was engineer. But actually at the point when I was promoted
to an engineer I was doing more engineering than I was mathematical
analysis. I was basically using a little bit more of my physics
than I was at the very beginning.
But still in the reliability area.
Yes. I spent almost all, well the largest part of my career, in
the reliability engineering business. And it was fun because we
were pioneers. People hadn't done what we did before. And of course
you'd come up with an idea and everybody would say it would never
work. Can't do that. But eventually we would persevere and prove
that it could. Things like, stress analysis, worst-case analysis,
failure analysis, failure mode analysis. And initially everybody
said those things are meaningless but when we started to look at
them we found that yes, well yes, there are some of those that
are meaningless but there are a lot of them that are very, very
meaningful and you need to address the root cause of what's going
Did you draw at all on the pioneering work of people like [Walter]
Shewhart and [Joseph] Juran and [W. Edwards] Deming?
Of course. In fact I knew Shewhart and Juran and Deming. And in
fact in 1980 I was awarded the Edwards Medal by the American Society
for Quality Control.
So anyway it was really fun because at the time that we were doing
this everybody was talking about how poor Japanese quality was
and that they weren't doing anything to improve it. And Deming
and Shewhart went to Japan and introduced quality concepts to them
and when they got through the Japanese believed what they were
saying about statistical analysis and so forth. They adapted the
techniques and you know what happened to the quality there.
It wasn't very long before they were surpassing what we were doing
Right. And we were sending people over to Japan to figure out
What we should have already known.
Because it started out here -
Here - right. Right.
Matrix Management and Customer Interations
How did you work with the product groups on, say, the Typhon project?
How did you interact and work with the people responsible for the
Well there was a group that was assigned to the Typhon project
to do reliability and quality -
Okay. You were part of a group doing this -
We were part - actually the way Westinghouse was organized was
a matrix management. So you had a program management staff but
then they drew on engineering for engineers, manufacturing for
manufacturing personnel, and various support groups for other disciplines
as needed to support the programs. So yes, you were part of a program
but you belonged to a matrix type organization. The advantage to
that was that when programs ran out, you had a home to go to rather
than somebody saying ‘well tough luck, you're out of work
today.’ There were disadvantages too because program managers
complained that they didn't have control over people. And sometimes
that was good and sometimes that wasn't good but for the most part
everybody tried to work together as a team. And you had a common
goal. It was to develop a product that worked, that made the customer
happy and then when you shipped it out, the end user would find
it was something that was useful and did something well for them.
And this role say on Typhon or other projects - did you interact
with the customer as well with the other Westinghouse people?
Oh yes. We quite often talked to the customer [about] the design
of the units that were being built. We called them line replaceable
units, LRUs. And this LRU has a 100 hours mean time between failure
or a 90 % probability that it will work for 10 hours or whatever
or .999 probability of success for 10 hours, which you could then
convert into mean time between failures. And we tried to identify
the ones that were lowest on the totem pole as far as reliability
was concerned and what could be done to improve them. So ours was
a kind of a detective's job. And sometimes detectives aren't very
Yes. You're telling someone that the item they designed is not
Well it's not up to snuff. Not that it's bad but it's not up to
snuff. But we were very fortunate. We had a bunch of very creative
people very, very bright people. And very friendly people. It was
more like a big family.
Who were some of the key people you worked with in your early
Well I was hired by a guy named John Harris who ran the Components
and Materials group. My immediate supervisor was a fellow named
Bob Briggs. Later on as I moved up the management chain I worked
for people like Ben
Vester, John Stuntz, Johnny Pearson, and eventually toward
the end of my career I was working for Aris Melissaratos, Noel
Longuemare and Wally Hoff. It was quite an interesting and smart
group of people.
Women Engineers at Westinghouse
Now I know you've covered some of this in your SWE interview,
but I gather when you joined Westinghouse women professionals were,
shall we put it mildly, extremely rare?
I think I was the third woman that had been hired in the Baltimore
complex. It was somewhat interesting. One gal was from MIT and
the summers here were too warm, even the winters were too warm
so she went back to Massachusetts. Another one was from Florida
and the summers were too humid and it was really too cold in the
winter, so she went back to Florida. I was the only one who lasted.
For a period of time I was the only - well no, there were two.
There was one in the west building or the Electronics Division
at that point in time and myself. And I was there for three or
four years before I met her. It wasn’t because people were
trying to keep us apart. It was because of the differences in work
that the two divisions did. We just didn't cross that divide. That
was in 1956. By 1964 they were starting to hire more women engineers
and then in 1967 there was a rather large influx of women engineers.
But it was a good time. The people somewhat treated me like a little
sister, but also very nice. In fact, when I first came up, there
used to be a couple of guys who would come by and look at my feet.
And I finally asked, ‘what are you doing’? Well I'm
from Kentucky. They were trying to find out if I was wearing shoes.
Or at least that was the excuse. I finally told them I put gravel
in them to compensate.
And they didn't bother me anymore. [Chuckling]
AWG 10, APQ 120
How long would you work on a particular project in reliability?
It looks like you were working on Typhon for a fair number of years,
is that correct?
Well I worked on the Typhon program about three years. And then
it was obviously on its downswing. They were only going to build
a couple of them. There were going to be sea tests and so forth
on it but basically the engineering work was pretty much finished
on it, except for the follow-ons that everyone did. So at that
time I transferred back into Air Arm Division - I think it was
still called Air Arm at that point in time - to work on the AWG
What was the AWG 10?
The AWG 10 was airborne radar that was, I guess, the follow-on
to the APQ 72 and the Aero 13B. It was a pulse Doppler missile
control system where you were looking out the nose of the airplane,
to detect targets in the distance, determine if you had friends
or enemies out there and what to do.
Now was this for a particular aircraft model?
Yes. It was for the F4. The APQ 72 was for the F4 and the AWG
10 was the follow-on basically to that. So I went from this huge
ship borne area where you could walk around and get lost - back
to something where it was a comparatively small box that you put
into the nose of an airplane. And basically that was a lot more
fun to work on than the big systems.
Why was it more fun?
It was a bigger challenge. You had less space to do something.
You had a lot of functions you needed to do. The big question was,
how could you put more and more into a smaller and smaller place?
And I guess in some sense that must have made the reliability
questions more complex.
It did because what did you do with the heat that you had to get
away from the parts to keep them from failing? How could you miniaturize
the parts to get them down to this point? And if you look at technology
today versus what we had back then, what we were putting into something
that was the size of your Coke bottle, today is about the size
of a pinhead.
We've come a long way in that.
Do you recall any particular reliability problems that you needed
to solve on the AWG 10?
Well the AWG 10 was one of those technology transfers where we
were going from tubes to semiconductors.
And so it was a question of how did you analyze that technology
and so forth. The other problem that we had with the AWG 10, well
not a problem but a challenge, was that they had a built-in test
situation where they were trying to isolate failures in flight
so you could do almost instantaneous repairs when the plane landed.
The question was do you use a relay tree which everybody knew would
work or did you use the new LED technology that was coming in.
Well we had information on failure rates on the relay system; we
didn't have any information on the LEDs. So we opted for the relays.
We had 248 relays in that tree, almost but not quite, in series
to do all this testing which later proved to not be anywhere near
as reliable as the LED’s. It just proved that when new technology
comes up, take a hard look at it and probably use it because it
may be a whole lot better and more reliable than the old technology.
But when we made the decision we didn't know. Of course one of
my friends later told me he would never forgive me for making that
decision [Chuckling] because of the problems with the relays being
intermittent and so forth.
Was the next project the APQ 120?
Well the APQ 120 was really the big brother of the APQ 72. It
was a different version of it which included far more functions,
more modes of operations, and had a higher reliability requirement
by a considerable amount. And in fact I think the APQ 72 had a
mean time between failure of about 5 hours. We had a goal of something
like 38 hours MTBF on the AWG 10 and 20 hours MTBF on the APQ 120.
Well that seemed not too bad. People said ‘well gee, you
know basically it's only an increase of 4 or 5 times the old requirements.’ But
if you analyzed it there was something like 7 times as many parts,
6 times as many functions to do, 3 or 4 more modes of operation
so it ended up with about a 23 to 1 increase in the reliability
requirement. So that was pushing it just a little bit.
But were you able to reach those targets?
Eventually. It took a while. The initial analysis showed us meeting
13 hours MTBF, on the AWG 10which was the minimum requirement with
the goal being 38 hours. We started out about there and it grew
over the period of time as we found new ways of doing things and
found problems that existed in the system and eliminated those
and simplified the system in some ways. Ultimately we met the 38
hour MTBF requirement, but it was a struggle. It was always interesting
in how things could go. We would run various tests. One test would
work, the next one wouldn't. And then you would say, ‘what
happened?’ And sometimes trouble shooting those things was
not easy. And since they never happened the same way twice, it
made it even more interesting to come up with something that was
coherent to try to eliminate some of those problems. So it was
always a challenge. And the other thing was that whenever you solved
a problem, there were always at least two more that cropped up.
And sometimes the problem you thought you solved, the solution
caused the new problems. It could be a double-edged sword. But
a lot of fun.
Westinghouse Baltimore in 50s and 60s
How did you find Baltimore, Westinghouse Baltimore as a place
to work in the 50s and 60s? Camaraderie social life, spirit?
Well, when I came to work I was working with a group [of] four
people. So we were a family. There just wasn't any question about
it. We went to movies together. We had picnics, you name it. But
that changed as the size of the group grew. Now the first few years
it was still a big family. It just got bigger and bigger and bigger.
But then there was a point in time like in any extended family
you start to lose touch with people that you're working with. And
when the area got big enough you would have people in the section
that would be off working in other parts of the plant that you
might not see for months. There was a social life but it wasn't
the one where you would think that ‘gee every day I'm going
to a party with the same people’ or I'm going to lunch with
them. It varied. But for the most part camaraderie was great, even
under the greatest times of stress when we were trying to meet
I imagine those times of stress also led to some rather long hours.
Yes, there were a couple of times that my husband and I talked
about it. We were working on programs with tight deadlines; one
was AWACS, when we were trying to get the first shipments out.
I can remember that there were something like 31 consecutive days
that I got home after he had gone to bed and I left before he got
up in the morning. Now he's an engineer, and had some of the same
deadlines, so he understood what was happening there. But when
the first AWACS was shipped he laughed and told me that I slept
for 36 hours when it was done.
[Laughing] I bet. Now was he also with Westinghouse?
Oh yeah. That's where I met him. So Westinghouse was good to me
in a lot of ways.
Becoming a Supervisor, Space Programs
Now in '66 you became a supervisor?
Yes. I was the first female supervisory engineer in the corporation.
Not just Baltimore, the entire corporation -
Yes, not just Baltimore, the entire corporation. And it was an
interesting time because a lot of people said ‘gee, you know,
men shouldn't work for women’ and so forth. Occasionally
I got some things like that.
One day a guy came over and told me that this was all wrong. Well
I - here's my group sitting around me and this guy's telling me
So this is some guy from elsewhere in the company.
Yes. And he said men shouldn't work for women. And I remember
looking at him and saying you don't understand, men have always
worked for women. This is just a slightly different perspective.
[Chuckling] And my group gave me a cheer. [Chuckling] And then
he left of course. He did, but he complained to my boss that I
was being insubordinate. And my boss came out and asked me ‘what
did you say to John Doe?’ And I told him and I thought he
was going to lie down on the floor and laugh. So there were some
times like that, but for the most part people understood that you
had a job to do and they let you do it.
So when you became a supervisor, how many people did you have
working for you?
Well, initially I think there were 12. And my job was reliability
engineering for all the space programs. So I had people who worked
the lunar camera, who worked the DSMP program or Block 5 as they
called it. One of the first jobs I worked on in space was a radar
altimeter which was to be put on a missile for people in Huntsville.
And it was also one of the first company trips I took.
Down to Huntsville?
To Huntsville, yes. And the program manager and the engineering
manager for that activity went along on that trip. And so when
we walked into the meeting with the people from NASA one guy said
to Johnny Pearson, who was a section manager at that time, they
said ‘oh I see you brought your secretary along.’ And
Johnny said ‘well yeah but you might be amazed.’ And
that's all he said. Then when I made my presentation and when I
got through the guy said ‘I'd like to have a secretary like
that.’ And he and I became very good friends after that.
But it was interesting. They had never seen a woman come in to
make a technical presentation and it was an education for them
and for me. They gave me a chance and that was really what mattered.
And when they saw the presentation and saw that you knew what
you were doing.
Yes, when they asked questions and I could defend all the things
being presented they accepted me. I remember one of the questions
was ‘have you had any disagreements with’ - no it
was ‘how do you get along with the engineers when you've
got a question or a problem?’ And I said ‘well there
have been differences of opinion.’ And that kind of brought
the room down as they laughed. It was a good time. A lot of interesting
things on the space programs. We ran into some really strange,
unusual, technical problems.
Well, how do things react in weightlessness? How do you make sure
that you have gotten every single particle or sliver of anything
that could short something out that will float in space? And we
had some interesting events occur - I won't call them failures
but unforeseen results. One time when we were working on a program,
we turned the unit upside down and vibrated it to be sure we got
all the loose particles out. And then rather than removing the
system, they turned it back up the other way and put all the particles
back in it. So [Chuckling] you go through a few things like that.
And you stop and think how on earth could anybody have done something
like that? But it's human nature. You don't think of everything.
No you don't. Any particular issues that you had to deal with
with the Apollo lunar camera?
Well on the lunar camera the thing that we were looking at was,
can we make it reliable so it will do what they want it to do?
And so it was such things as how do you seal it to make sure there
is no out-gassing when you get it into the capsule and how do you
screen the parts to make sure that they will work for the period
of time that you want? A lot of those types of things. Of course
that camera was on a very tight schedule. And a lot of very smart
people worked it and they worked very, very hard to get it done.
And when it worked it was sort of like a big whew from everybody
who was there. I think everybody who worked on the program, the night
that Neal Armstrong stepped off on the moon, was watching that TV program.
As well as most of us who had nothing to do with the project.
[Laughing] But you didn't say whew when it worked. [Chuckling]
No. No because I obviously knew nothing about all of the work
that went into it
But those programs were challenging because they used quote “new
technology.” You had to develop new techniques. You had to
develop new methods for screening of parts. You had to devise new
ways to predict what was going to happen on those things. So those
things were all fun, a lot of fun to do. A little stressful at
times when you were really working under a lot of pressure to get
some things done. But it was a great time.
I assume you and your team were working the reliability angles
as part of a matrix team with the engineering groups that are actually
developing the product itself.
Right. Stan Lebar was the program manager for the lunar camera.
Stan was quite often at my desk saying, ‘you know, you guys
aren't doing A, you aren't doing B, you aren't doing C,’ and
it was sort of like when did that come up? But no, it was that
type of thing. We were matrixed to that program and worked with
It just must have been enormously satisfying when those pictures
came back from the moon.
Yes. It was enormously satisfying when the pictures came back
from the moon but on the DMSP program it was enormously satisfying
when we saw gee, the pictures of the weather fronts that were coming
across the -
Deep Meteorological Space Program.
Is this before or after the lunar camera or at the same time or
Well basically this started in 1965, the camera was developed
in '68. So it was, you know, the same type of time. Block 5 - what
we call the DMSP now - was an Air Force program with the idea that
they needed to do tracking of weather fronts to find out how you
best deploy your troops, what's happening at sea, any number of
things. Of course I'm sure there was other stuff that they picked
up besides just weather fronts too from that. But all of that were
challenges because nobody had ever done anything like that before.
And so anytime you had a small success you went out and celebrated.
What were those celebrations like?
Well if we delivered a system we would have a party and it might
not be anything more than going to the G and M's and having crab
cakes or whatever. Or it might be going to Timbuktu which is one
of the other restaurants in the area. But those were the types
of celebrations where you went out and got together and had a drink
and then went home.
So were DMSP and the lunar camera the two main space projects
you worked on in this period?
In that period yes. There were others later on but those were
the two big ones at that point in time.
Section Manager and Maintainability
So in '68 you became a Section Manager.
So what did that mean?
Well it meant that I picked up another function. I not only had
the entire reliability engineering group which was for all of the
systems in the aerospace division but I picked up the maintainability
engineering activity also.
Well, reliability is you build systems to try to make sure that
they work. But they don't always work so you have to fix them.
And that's where maintainability comes in. So our goal was to have
a big R and a little M. If reliability was very high and systems
worked very long then you didn't have to do a lot of maintenance
and so forth. On the other hand you wanted to be able, when something
went wrong, to detect that it went wrong and be able to fix it
quickly. So they complemented each other.
It sounded like two functions that would complement each other.
How large was the team under you at this point?
I think at that point in time we had about 35 people. So it was
small enough that you knew everybody but large enough that it was
beginning to outgrow the family-type concept.
And I suppose as you had more and more people under you, your
job became more managerial and less engineering?
Yes. Well, the additional responsibility of trying to plan schedules
and making things happen and so forth, that was not bad. But to
get away from the technological end of it you lost something, once
in a while it was just nice to go down and look at something, pick
it up and say ‘what is this and what can we do with it?’ So
yes, as one went up on the administrative chain you tried to keep
your knowledge of the technology up but being able to apply it
was a little bit different.
How did you manage a group of 35 people?
Well I had, what, three or four supervisory engineers reporting
to me. They each had a number of people reporting to them, so you
start and you break it down into manageable groups. I think there
was one time when I was a supervisory engineer I had something
like 23 people working for me for the simple reason that one of
the other supervisory engineers had become very ill. Instead of
going out and getting a replacement you double up and figure out
how to handle the situation until he gets back on his feet. I never
want[ed] to do that again because people were scattered all over.
Just trying to keep up with what they were doing and where they
were going and so forth, was a lot. And while doing that, you don't
have anything to do with the technology. And technology was where
the fun was.
So how do you manage to keep having fun as you have more and more
Well, as the managerial responsibilities went up I tried to get
very good technical people working with me and keeping me apprised
of what they were doing. I didn't quite have people come in every
day for an hour to tell me what this technology is, but we got
together at least once a week to go around with - okay, what's
new in this area, how are you applying it, what are the new analytical
techniques, what are we doing from a prediction viewpoint, how
do we minimize failure rates, that type of thing. So you have to
allocate but it's not the hands-on type of thing where if you really
like to know how things work, you like to take them apart and you
like to put them back together.
If you didn't like that you probably wouldn't be an engineer.
That's true. [Chuckling] It seems like one goes with the other.
It certainly does. So around '68, you’re a section manager.
AWACS, Quality Engineering
Now you're getting involved with the large AWACS project.
Well yes. The AWACS project started as something called the Overland
Radar Program. I had one person that was assigned to that study.
And it was one of those things where people kept questioning whether
this technology would ever work or not. Of course people there
were very, very smart so they made sure that it did. Then the Overland
Radar program - they were looking at how you could do a 360 degree
scan. First of all they hung pods on an airplane to do this. Then
finally the concept of putting that huge structure on top of that
Boeing 707 came up. That was one of the things where people say
you can never get something like to fly. Well bumblebees fly but
theoretically they can't. So it was a matter of Boeing being very
smart about how they did that. The antenna though was huge; what,
32 feet in diameter, 6 feet deep at the center post? And revolved
at something like 16 revolutions per, no it had to be more than
that, per minute. But, gee, that was a fantastic problem. The other
problem was how do you get enough power to the antenna to keep
it going? The cable run from the transmitter to the antenna was
I think about 90 feet long. You don't run high voltage like that
through that length of cable without a lot of power loss. Plus
we had to have a rotary joint that would allow that power to be
transmitted to the antenna. So there were tremendous numbers of
technical problems there. And yet the people did everything there,
it seemed like they invented on schedule if that was what was required
to be done.
Now did you and your team work directly with the Boeing folks?
Well we did not have anybody at Boeing, even though I made trips
to Boeing to talk about it. I had people who were assigned to the
program. We would talk to the Boeing people that were in Baltimore,
then talk to the people who were at Boeing in Seattle and work
together to look at analyses of the test results; identify problems,
that type of thing. And when it came to going out and talking to
Boeing about it or when Boeing came in to talk to us about system
reliability, my people were there, I was there. So yes on all of
those programs we had interfaces with the customer. And I think
for the most part we had very good interfaces with the customers.
We had very good customers. They were very bright, very demanding
and sometimes hard to get along with, but the relationships were
very good because they had one goal in mind and so did we. And
that was to deliver a good product.
Now let's see, in '72, was another promotion from section manager
to simply manager. Or was that just a re-title?
Just a re-title. I added another group to my activity; the quality
engineering activity, so yes it was a promotion. And now instead
of just looking at the engineering side of the house which was
reliability and maintainability, we now looked at the manufacturing
side of the house to see what was happening and tried to combine
the groups in such a way that we started at the beginning of a
program and followed through all the way to the end on the program.
It was an interesting kind of education and a different world to
go out and find out what was happening on the shop floor.
Had there been a quality function on the shop floor before?
Yes. This was a Harry Smith idea that we should put the engineering
and the manufacturing operations together so they could understand
each other's problems and work them continuously across the board.
The quality engineering people basically interfaced with the resident
customer group that monitored us all the time which was NAVPRO
at that time. In 1974 or 1975 it changed to AFPRO because we were
doing more work for the Air Force than the Navy at that time. We
did a lot of work with them to make sure that the procedures and
documentation they wanted was done correctly and efficiently. So
it was interesting. Now, there were times when there were disagreements
between those groups. And one of my jobs was to try to act as a
referee between the two parties. There were times you wished you
could go home and get away from it all, but for the most part people
were pretty good. However, depending on your perspective, a problem
can either be a problem or a non-problem. So it was a question
of how you sort the perspectives out so that when they agree that
there really is a problem you figure out how to solve it. And if
it's a non-problem it goes away. I had a lot of fun doing that
type of thing.
You mentioned Harry Smith. What can you tell me about him? Unfortunately
we started this project just a little bit too late to ask him himself.
Well, Harry Smith was one of the most brilliant people that I
have known. He was inventing until the day he died. An engineer's
engineer. Harry was very creative. He could take things that people
had already done and look at them and come up with new ways to
use them. He could devise new techniques for doing things, create
new products. And he was a good manager. He was one of those people
that you called him Harry; you didn't call him Mr. Smith. And he
would come down to wherever you were working - sit down and talk
with you about what was going on. Just like you and I are talking
right now. You would mention things to him and then a few days
later you might find out that a problem you thought you were having
that you had told Harry about, all of a sudden it was being solved
because he had listened and gone off and dropped the right words
at the right spots or he might come back and tell you that ‘gee,
we're doing such and such and maybe you ought to think about doing
something about that.’ He was a great guy to work with and
F16, WMP and Pittsburgh
The next project I see your group working on was the F16.
Well, of course the F16 was one of the most successful radar systems.
It was an outgrowth of a system called the WX 200; after we lost
the F15 radar we were practically out of the radar business. At
the time the F16 really began to come in, I was on my way to Pittsburgh.
The initial portions of it I missed but later on when we were trying
to get the production runs going and everything moving very fast
there I was back from Pittsburgh in time to do a lot of work, a
lot of the interfacing between the AFPRO and the program on that.
So I guess we're now at the point where you go to Pittsburgh for
a while, unless I’ve left anything out.
Well I guess the one area that was missed was the WMP program.
That was a space program. It was very challenging from the viewpoint
of not only delivery schedule but what we had to do. We were really
getting into integrated
circuits at that point in time and finding out all the problems
that happen with integrated circuits. I can remember doing things
like chasing quote “mobile ions.” Now mobile ions
were such that if you had a step function, a step on a surface
in the integrated circuit, if they were not properly treated or
if the silicon was not properly treated, after a period of time
the ions would migrate. And you would have discontinuities. Now
nobody had ever seen anything like that before. And when we brought
up the idea of mobile ions, we nearly got laughed out of the place.
It took a while but we finally proved that those things existed
and we finally came up with a way to solve that problem by basically
doing a heat treat on them. But that program, because it was really
the first major introduction into integrated circuits, created
a whole new vista for everybody to go out and work. We found a
new set of problems to be addressed and a new set of things to
be laughed about. Engineers would say ‘you found what?’ [Chuckling]
But it was very interesting as we were working on the cutting edge
of technology. The fun of working here in Baltimore was that we
were always on the cutting edge of new technology. And almost every
case where we developed new technology, the reliability of the
systems improved. So that, from my viewpoint, that was a great
Sure, since you were in charge of reliability.
Yep. [Chuckling] Well, I couldn't really always claim the success,
but it was one of those things where when we looked at the new
technology and the development of it primarily that was the reason
for the increase in reliability. There were some downsides to that.
When we had the big old tube systems you could take a huge swing
in voltage, increases in temperature and so forth and the systems
would still not have any problems. Now the semiconductors wouldn't
tolerate that. But we could devise techniques for making sure that
didn't happen too. So I worked the WMP program and then I went
off to Pittsburgh.
Okay. How did that come about?
Well it was one of those things where people were looking at what
I needed to do to advance my career.
So you had mentors.
Oh yes. John Stuntz, Harry Smith, Ben Vester, Johnny Pearson all
of those people were mentors. Anyway, the vice president of engineering
had a group called Directors of Strategic Resources. And these
people were to evaluate the technology that was being developed
at the R&D labs and see if we could take it out and put it
into some of the old line divisions.
The R&D labs are in Pittsburgh.
They are in Pittsburgh, right. We also did things like look at
strategic planning and the plans that were developed by the various
divisions to see if there was anything that other divisions were
coming up with that might help and so forth. So it really was a
transfer of technology when you came down to it. The idea was that
if I went to Pittsburgh I would not only see what the rest of the
corporation was doing, but I would also get some indoctrination
into what financial accounting and the business side of the company
was, As a section manager, yeah, I had targets I had to meet but
I really wasn't responsible for profit or anything of that type.
So I went there for that and with the idea that it would be exposure
at the corporate level generally. Now I had 15 business units to
cover, one of which was the Baltimore divisions, which was nice
because that could provide me an excuse for being home on weekends.
But they varied. They varied from the heavy motors division in
Buffalo to the gas turbine division in Pittsburgh, to the elevator
divisions. So it was a completely different experience.
A lot of things far away from defense work!
Oh it was mind-boggling. Here we were working on putting stuff
into smaller and smaller packages and so forth. There, you would
go into a place and you would have a generator that
was bigger than this room.
It’s a whole different world of technology. It took a little
while to grasp part of that. And you never catch all of it because
it's just too varied. But the one problem that was really difficult
was when you were dealing with the customers for those products,
for example, the utility companies would come in and they would
tell you, look I don't want anything new, I want exactly what you
gave me last year because I know that works. Well that's fine,
but often those parts were no longer available because technology
had changed and they no longer made parts for that type of stuff.
So convincing them that you could not give them what you had before
and that what you had now was better was very difficult because
they didn't want to take any risk. To me it was very frustrating
because the technology that they were using we had used ten years
ago here in Baltimore. Simple things like the elevator division
getting integrated circuits and transistors put
into the control units on the elevators. It wasn't hard to convince
the engineering manager at the elevator divisions that this was
a move forward; after all at that point in time he was a guy from
Baltimore. But convincing his customers that this was something
that should be done was – ‘oh too expensive, we don't
know if it will be reliable, what's the liability involved?’ On
and on and on and on. So it was a completely different world. When
they decided they were going to reduce staff at headquarters and
eliminated both the positions of vice president for engineering
and vice president for manufacturing - just cut their staffs entirely
- I was very fortunate because at that point in time I was ready
to leave and they were ready for me to come back here.
Now when you went there was the plan for this to be a relatively
short-term assignment and then you'd come to Baltimore or was that
kind of open?
Well, I was told a year is probably a little bit short, 2 years
is too long. And so we were looking at something like 15 to 18
months. And always in my mind and I think here too, the plan was
basically to come back here. There was some thought that I would
end up at the R&D Center, which would have been okay in a way
but really research was not my strong point. And I couldn’t
imagine trying to impose discipline on a bunch of scientists. That
would have been like trying to herd grasshoppers.
I suspect there also would have been the additional problem -
at least the research labs that I know of tended to start off with
assumptions about people who did not have the PhD, whether they
were [Chuckling] valid or not.
Oh yes. They're tremendous. Well, wherever you go you have a certain
amount of Not Invented Here.
But in places like that if you don't have all those letters after
your name, then it's really, really hard. Fortunately Mechlin,
who was the head of the research labs at that point in time, was
looking at the thing from a viewpoint of we have to do something
to be able to get this technology taken out into the other divisions.
He was talking to me about how could we set that up and make that
happen. But when I looked at that it was sort of like ‘that's
like herding grasshoppers.’
Returning to Baltimore and Product Integrity
Anyway, there was an opening here and I came back to work for
Johnny Stuntz as, I think, the exact title was Assistant to the
General Manager for Product Integrity. And I hated the title.
Well what did it mean?
Well, the idea was that all of the equipment that we had here
we needed to make sure that it was reliable, maintainable, that
it carried the integrity of Westinghouse behind it. So what could
you do to put all of those things in place? We were working on
AWACS at that point in time. AWACS was a huge system. And we had
a customer who insisted more on having paperwork right rather than
having equipment right. And so at that point in time, my major
job was how do I interface with those people to teach them that
gee, get this system right, get the equipment right, make the paperwork
match it. And if you have a choice of which one is wrong, it's
the paperwork. Well that was a tremendous task. And the program
people, they were at loggerheads with the AFPRO. My job was to
figure out how I could talk the AFPRO Colonel into becoming more
reasonable. He wasn't really the problem. The problem was his staff
who had dug in and said this is the way it's going to be and we're
not going to back off. I found myself on many occasions talking
to him about what's reasonable, what's not reasonable. I remember
once when we were talking about a system that had never had a failure.
It had been built up, everything went together, and yet when they
got ready to ship it, some of the paperwork didn't agree with what
people thought it should. And so we spent a night tearing that
system down, going back and making sure that the paperwork agreed
with the actual system configuration. I told the Colonel, I think
there comes a point in time when you have to look at things a little
different. As an example, I told him about an experience I had
with my '65 Lincoln Continental. I tuned that car myself. And at
one point in time I got it to the point where it would get 15 miles
to the gallon. And I thought well if I tweak it a little more,
I'd get 17. And I never got more than 12 after that.
And it was sort of like, you know, there comes a point in time
when you leave things that are working alone, and he understood
that, and things eased down a little bit after that. But quite
often I was in the mode of trying to figure out how I can come
up with an analogy that will go along with all this high tech stuff
that we're doing. That was one of the jobs I had there. The other
thing was to convince program managers that you don't cut every
corner that you can. You cut what you can as long as it works.
And then when you get to the point where it's not working you don't
just put back the last part back you took out in type of thing.
How do you convince people that we should pay a lot of money for
screening parts? We did that on the space programs. A lot of the
other programs didn't. I can remember one program that we were
working on where I was on a space program - I think it was the
environmental measurements experiment. We were screening all of
our parts. And the guy sitting across the desk from me was working
on an electronic warfare project and he asked me who was a good
supplier for potentiometers? And I said well, I'd buy from this
manufacturer. Well he did. It turned out he got the rejects from
my program because they weren't doing any screening. So he told
me later, I'm never going to listen to you again. I understood
that but then we found that companies like the toy manufacturers
- Atari and so forth who made PacMan - were screening their parts
long before anybody else was screening parts because kids just
did not tolerate stuff that failed.
They were less tolerant than the military?
From a commercial point, yeah. Children just say, ‘if this
doesn’t work I'm not buying any more of that stuff.’ It
was interesting that those people learned that you need to make
sure that you have things that really work, much earlier than we
did, at least outside of the space program.
Now in this position as Assistant for Product Integrity or whatever
the inadequate title -
Well the problem wasn't the title, it was just too long. How do
you put that on a business card? No, I think people understood
that product integrity was something that was very important. When
you say Assistant to the General Manager for -
As opposed to something like “Director of Product Integrity” -
that fits nicely and describes the job.
Right. But John Stuntz’s idea was he wanted people to understand
that I worked for him, and just wasn't out there in the typical
manufacturing world wandering around. And that was good but that
title, that title, oh well.
Now did you have a group of people working under you at this title
or was this staff?
No, this was a staff position. I was working with all of the divisions.
I was working with every program within the whole complex including
Oceanic and Sunnyvale and the ones here, Hunt Valley. So it was
across the board. And my job was to try to stay on top of the techniques
that were coming up, be knowledgeable about new requirements that
the Air Force and the Navy were putting out and get those requirements
infused back into the culture here so that when we were doing things
we knew that we were up to date with what they were doing. And
it was an interesting job because it put you in touch with so many
different people. At that point in time, we must have been building
400 different products here. If you went to Oceanic it was one
thing, if you went to Sunnyvale that was something else. If you
were at Hunt Valley, which was the logistics group, it was entirely
different. It made life interesting and I got to know a lot of
people, got to learn a lot of things. And that was both in the
customer community and in the community here.
Line Management and Design Assurance
And after doing that for a couple of years?
I moved back into a line management job. At that point in time
I'd been on staff for three years, three and a half years. There
comes a point in time when you either love staff work or you don't.
And you concluded?
I'd had enough. And fortunately Johnny Pearson decided that for
the engineering activity, we needed to really put an emphasis on
design assurance. And design assurance was, if you start with a
design you want to make sure that it's right at the beginning.
You do the analysis; you do the checks and so forth. It was really
a higher level of reliability engineering than I had done before.
So again with the design assurance, I picked up maintainability
engineering and I was back into the nitty-gritty, day to day type
of operation, which after being on staff for a while was very,
very nice. It was looking at programs from the very beginning.
Starting with the proposals for new programs. We got more involved
in this like electronic warfare, especially in the upfront proposal
stage and the initial up front systems requirements allocations
in the engineering stage. So it was administrative activity again
but with a bunch of very competent technical people that we really
worked [with] across the board on all programs.
So how large of a group did you have under you?
I think at that time we only had about 30 people. People were
assigned to product areas of responsibility, one was airborne radar,
one was electronic warfare, one was space, and then there would
be subdivisions within that. Again, we were looking at new things.
How do you do the tradeoffs to make sure that you get the best
product for the least money? How can you make sure that you get
the reliability you want without putting too much weight into a
system because one of the common ways of doing things was to add
redundancy? Well, okay that's fine. But when you do that you double
the weight, you also double the possibilities of things going wrong.
At least at that point you can do some checking to make sure that
you've got something that is working and you can switch it out.
Eventually the Design Assurance group was comprised of not only
reliability and maintainability engineering, but components engineering,
the model shop, engineering labs and flight test.
From there I went into another staff job, mainly because of reorganizations
that went on. And one of the things that came up was the CAALS
activity. And CAALS was Computer Aided Acquisition and Logistics
The idea was that we would start getting rid of paper across the
entire system. We'd set up a system where starting with the design,
everything would be done on the computer. We would eliminate all
the paper. We'd do simulations and so forth and then when we handed
it off to the manufacturing activity, no paper there. They would
have electronic diagrams and so forth for how to build stuff. Well,
it never worked. Well, I say it never worked. The problem was that
it was set up to be - it was too ambitious. On programs that were
in existence at that point in time, if you were doing a new design,
it made sense to do your new designs paperlessly but it didn't
make any sense to go back and throw all your old drawings away
and so forth. So you had this mis-mash of things. The other thing
that tended to happen was that there would be a mix of paper and
paperless systems set up and instead of letting the two systems
work simultaneously until you were sure that the new one worked,
one would get cut off and you'd find, good grief, that something
wasn’t transferred, things accidentally eliminated so that
the program wouldn’t work. So we had that type of problem.
Really, it wasn't a lot of trouble convincing people that they
should do their designs on the computer and so forth because you
could do so much more so much quicker. The problem was doing that
and coming up with realistic checks to make sure that you had thought
of all the variables, that everything had been tested thoroughly
and been put into quote “a bread board” to make sure
that it worked. Now initially the thought was we'd never have that
bread boarding type of thing. But that didn't work because one
of the first design reviews that I sat in, they were talking about
detection probabilities for an antenna and I immediately ended
up adding up the probabilities of detection derived and came up
with the probability of detection greater than 1. Kind of hard
This is not good. [Chuckling]
Well, it'd be great if you could do that every time. But obviously
no one had really put the system together and checked it out as
a real piece of hardware. So there was a fear, and rightly so,
that there was too much reliance on simulations and not enough
real testing to prove everything was right. That was the beginning
and I'm sure right now that there is a whole lot more that has
[to be] done to put all of the designs and manufacturing instructions
on the computer and eliminate paper documentation completely. One
of the ways that we were going to implement that program was through
something called concurrent engineering. Concurrent engineering
was a very simple concept. You take an item that you're going to
design, say it’s a transmitter. You get all the design people
together as a group, you bring in the manufacturing people up front
so they can talk about what materials you're using and how you're
doing that. Everybody is talking together from the beginning so
that you don't have this huge glitch of something being thrown
over the wall from engineering to manufacturing with no conversation
having been had. It took a little while for people to give up their
fiefdoms or share their fiefdoms and understand that yes, we can
do things a whole lot smoother if we do them that way. So that
was a technique that was begun. I felt like one of these traveling
ministers. He goes out and he pitches his tent and he preaches
his sermon. Everybody comes in and says ‘oh boy I'm going
to do this, this is great,’ and they are all converted to
the concept of concurrent engineering. He leaves, and comes back
six months later only to find that everybody's back doing what
they did before. So it was a constant educational battle. But once
people saw that it did work, they tended to do it. Now, there was
always this group of people who took the stand that ‘we’ve
never done it that way, I'm not going to do it that way.’ They
either had to be moved aside or retire or whatever. But when I
retired in '94 there were a lot of people who had looked at that
concept and decided that it was something that should be workable.
It was efficient, let's do it.
Retiring from Westinghouse, Hitachi
When I left Westinghouse in '94 I felt that I’d spent a
pretty good 38 years there and I was ready to go do something else.
[Chuckling] So I joined a consulting firm.
So it was your decision that it was time to move on to something
Well, my husband had been retired for five and a half years. When
we got married, it was one of the things that when he hit retirement,
I would be close enough to retirement that we probably both could
go. Well, he decided to retire earlier than that. And at the point
in time when I retired in 1994, I was not quite 60. But they came
up with a great incentive plan. And it didn't pay me, didn't make
any economic sense for me to work another three months or four
months to hit my birthday and get out. I was better off retiring.
So everything just kind of fell together at the same time. And
yes, I was looking at what I was doing and saying this is great.
I spent a lot of time here but the atmosphere is changing because
of the change of people at headquarters. It was just time to go.
Now. The one thing that I had done as part of the CAALS concurrent
engineering effort was to introduce Dick Linder to the CEO of Northrop
Grumman. And well, we know what happened after that. I don't want
to claim responsibility for the ensuing events.
There were only six of us in the consulting group, each with a
different area of expertise. It was one of those things that if
something came in from a customer that you were working with that
was within the other person's bailiwick you just turned it over.
After a few years of that, the travel on that got to be too much.
There were advantages. One is that in the consulting business you
can plan things so if you're traveling you can take your spouse
with you. And we did a lot of that. But when I was doing the consulting,
I was just basically still doing reliability engineering.
Well sure, that's where your expertise is.
Yes. We had a lot of interesting customers. We worked with the
Australian DOD. I worked with a paper plant in Finland who insisted
I still can't tell you who they are. I worked with automobile companies.
So it was a very, very diverse type of activity. And again I saw
a whole lot of things that I never would have seen before and how
things work. But it was a great life. I was working as a consultant
- we were dealing with the Japanese and thinking back in 1982,
I think it was, I had just gotten back from headquarters and was
basically in the design assurance field when Tom Murrin said we're
dealing with Hitachi, I want you to take a team to Japan and find
out why Hitachi is building computers that are more reliable than
what IBM is building. So I got together a group, a team, and we
went to Japan to talk to Hitachi. And the day that we arrived in
Tokyo a bunch of the Hitachi executives were indicted for, I don't
know, monopoly or something here in the States. [Chuckling] So
our timing was awful —
But it was interesting; Hitachi was doing techniques then with
computers that we weren't doing. They were putting designs on computers,
integrating the peripherals in such a way that when they set systems
up they worked immediately. They put in a system here. All of our
experience with big computer systems was that once they were put
in place, it took months to get them to do work like they should.
Well, Hitachi was installing a computer system here and the completion
date was over the Christmas holidays. And of course, as one of
the quote “design assurance managers,” I had the
job of going in to see how things were going. I think it was Christmas
Eve. The guy finished up. He turned around and he said well, I
am done. He picked up his coat and he started to walk out. And
I said where are you going? He said home. He threw the switch and
everything worked. And there were a bunch of Westinghouse people
there with their jaws hanging [Chuckling] because nobody believed
that that was going to happen. And what we found was that Hitachi
did things like hooking all systems and the peripherals together.
They made sure they worked before they shipped them. And so they
had checked everything out. So it was just a matter of assembling
the units and making sure that you had assembled them correctly.
But that was mind-boggling; we hadn't seen anybody do something
like that. And that guy was just totally competent. So with that
Mr. Murrin decided we needed to go to Japan to find out how Hitachi
did that. But of course a one-week trip isn't going to do that
for you but it was a good learning experience though. We found
that a lot of the things they talked about - the Taguchi methods
that they used - they actually did do what they were saying they
would do. And we brought some of those back to use here. So anyway,
that's about, well let's see from '56 to 2003, that's what, how
many years? Well, not quite.
- almost 50.
It's 50, 47 years.
But it was [a] great, great ride, great roller coaster, very enjoyable.
And if I had it to do over again, I'd do it.
In what ways did the operations in Baltimore evolve or change
over the course of your 38 years here?
Well, when I first started here I think we had something like
about 2,000 people. And, of course, as it got bigger the bureaucracy
became greater. And as long as it was managed by - not only here
because here was managed pretty much by engineers. But as long
as Pittsburgh was run by engineers things worked reasonably well.
Now, Baltimore was never a big cog in the Pittsburgh Westinghouse
way of thinking of things, except for the fact that Baltimore did
provide a nice cash flow into the corporation. And plus the company
felt that they should have a presence in defense and to show: one,
that they were good citizens and two, that we were very smart.
But when the money managers moved into Pittsburgh, it was like,
well, we're putting out a huge amount of expenses for research
and development and what is that doing for us? So the emphasis
became more on the financial side of the house than it did on the
product creativity. The “you can be sure it's Westinghouse” thing
kind of started to slip aside. And then when it moved into Michael
Jordan, who was the president, well I don't know, I guess he was
a general manager or president of Frito Lay before he became president
of Westinghouse, had no understanding of the manufacturing side
of the house at all. It was sort of like ‘well, what can
we do to create cash flow, to add value for the stockholder?’ and
so forth. And let's eliminate things like research and development
and so forth. And so obviously with the merger with CBS, then the
merger with Viacom, the idea was to get rid of the manufacturing
organization. So unfortunately a great [many] companies disappeared.
IEEE Reliability Society
Can I switch question areas a little bit? You know I'm from the
So I'd like to ask you about the history of your involvement with
the IEEE. Do you know around when you joined?
I think I joined in 1958 or '59.
So not long after you came here and started to become an engineer?
Right. I joined because one of the guys in the section I worked
with was saying this is a great way to stay technically on top
of what's going on and to meet people in the field and so forth.
So it made sense. And when I joined I guess at that point in time
it was the IRE.
Right. It was still before the merger with
And then when it became the IEEE they had things like the Reliability
Society which was my field so I joined that and eventually became
president of the IEEE
How did you become active and get to the point where you worked
your way up to being president of one of the IEEE societies?
Well that probably is serendipity. In early 1958 the IEEE, well
the IRE, and ASQC decided that they needed to get together and
do something about developing a textbook for reliability engineering.
The request came into the Baltimore divisions to have somebody
assigned to that and I guess I was [the] low person on the totem
pole so they sent me off to work on that. And I met people like
Cliff Ryerson, Stan Zwerling and Frank Gryna and we put together
a book. It was called The Reliability Training Text. It's the first
book on reliability engineering. And basically what we did was
get about 12 or 13 people together to write about various aspects
of reliability engineering, and then we edited that into a training
text. I don't know how many copies of that thing sold. No royalties
to any of the people who worked on it. But it was “the
text” for several years.
When did it come out?
It came out in 1959.
I wasn't clear whether '58 was when it started or when it finished.
Well actually we started in ‘58 and it was published in
Well, I think everybody that we worked for said you either get
this done or you're going to be off of this. But when it came out
it was so well accepted. At that point in time I met all of these
people that I later worked with in the Reliability Society. At
that time they said ‘we're doing these things why don't
you work with the Baltimore group?’ and I did that. And
finally I became a region director or one of them. I'm not sure
what the titles are. They changed them so much. As a result of
the work on the Training Text I was asked to run for executive
committee of the Reliability Society and was elected. And then
after serving there for several years, I guess it was just routine
moving up the chain. Then in '84, I was elected president of the
society. One of those years they gave me their annual reliability
award. And I can't remember what year that was.
I probably can look it up.
Well I've got it someplace too. I could go look at the plaque
I guess. That would tell me. The year was 1995.
What did you do as society president?
Well, as society president, one of the things that we were trying
to do was to work with other societies to figure out how we could
get reliability implemented across - well basically we wanted reliability
engineering to become a household word. So we were developing and
setting up educational programs. We had training programs. We had
symposia. There was the reliability magazine that was issued six
times a year or something like that. It still is, probably. So
the idea was primarily to educate people about reliability, get
them interested in it, see what new techniques we could get developed.
How could you spread the word about those things? And, of course,
to make money. We did that by running symposia, running training
programs and so forth. One of the symposiums that we were a member
of was the Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium which
in 2004 had its 50th anniversary. I chaired that in 1997. After
retiring in 2003 I've stayed in touch with the people but I really
haven't been doing anything in the society. It's time to let the
younger people move in.
Have you maintained your membership?
Of course. I am a life member. But, yes I think it's well worthwhile.
The magazines are fun; the literature you can get and the fact
that they now have so much stuff online. You can go in and find
information on almost any topic you want. So, so yes. I have maintained
my membership. I've also maintained contacts with the people that
I worked with.
Larger IEEE and ASQC
Another IEEE question: you were president of the society; that
put you on the Technical
Activities Board with the other professional society members?
Well actually I guess I was on that board for two years. One as
vice president and one as president because it was sort of like,
okay we keep the thing, you just don't drop off and hand it off
to somebody new.
For two years.
So you had a bit of exposure to the overall IEEE?
Do you have any recollections of what TAB meetings or board series
Not really. It was a long time ago. And I don’t remember
getting bored enough to go to sleep or any confrontation or anything
that came up that was really a hot issue for discussion. I remember
going to meetings, but I just don't remember much about them.
Were you also active in ASQC?
Yes, I joined ASQC before I joined IRE. And when I joined ASQC
I guess it was because a local section was having a revolt against
the national group. They decided that they needed a woman in the
local set of officers and elected me Chairman. I've always been
convinced that Atchison Duncan and all those people were really
telling the national organization we're going to stick it in your
eye. I also joined the Electronics Division of ASQC and eventually
was elected Chairman. Obviously I must have done that well enough
because I was elected executive secretary of the society, and I
went on to serve as regional director for several years. But again
as I got more active in IEEE, I got less active in ASQC because
there's only so much you can do.
Okay. Well we've gone through your career. I've asked you about
IEEE. I'm out of questions but if you have anything you'd like
to add, anything that I neglected to ask you about I’d certainly
be happy to hear.
Well we've covered a lot of territory here in this short period
of time and I really can't think of anything else to add. It's
been fun. Thank you very much.
Well thank you for being willing to come here and tell us about
Well I'm happy to do so, but thank you.
Addendum: Some things that weren’t covered in this interview
were my service on the Army Science Board. I was appointed by
the Secretary of the Army to three two-year terms on the Board.
President Reagan also appointed me to serve a three-year term
on the President’s Commission on the National Medal of