About Ted Foster
Ted Foster was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1941 and from childhood
was interested in science and technology. He graduated from the
University of Virginia in Charlottesville, getting his degree in
electrical engineering in 1963. For graduate school, Foster received
a fellowship from Westinghouse to attend Johns Hopkins University
full-time while a Westinghouse employee. At Hopkins, he worked
on solid state electronics, and received his doctorate in 1967.
After graduating, Foster went to work at Westinghouse, starting
in the Advanced Development Department, and quickly moved on to
work with optical signal processing and SAW devices. Foster worked
on many projects – including thick film technology, surveillance radar systems,
and Very High Speed Integrated
Circuits (VHSIC) – and had many positions, moving from
project leader to manager. Although Foster spent most of his career
at Westinghouse Baltimore, he also worked at Pittsburgh as manager
of the electronics portion of the research lab, although he returned
to Baltimore when Northrop Grumman bought his division. Foster
retired from Westinghouse in 1999 and became Assistant Dean of
Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
In this interview, Foster discusses his long career at Westinghouse
and the many projects he worked on. He talks about his decision
to enter graduate school and his route to Johns Hopkins, along
with the prescribed program of study he had there through his Westinghouse
fellowship. Foster also discusses how he became a manager at Westinghouse,
and the at times informal leadership he held over groups. The important
transition of radar systems to solid state in military electronics – and
Foster’s role in the process – is also covered. The
troubles at Westinghouse and the eventual sale to Northrop Grumman
are also discussed, as well as the reasons Foster felt it was time
to retire in 1999. Foster also talks about the atmosphere at Westinghouse
Baltimore, and the many people he worked with during his career.
About the Interview
TED FOSTER: An Interview Conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE
History Center, 17 February 2010
Interview #529 for the National Electronics Museum and IEEE History
Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc.
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Ted Foster, 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: Ted Foster
Interviewer: Sheldon Hochheiser
Date: 17 February 2010
Location: The National Electronics Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
Background and University Education
This is Sheldon Hochheiser of the IEEE History Center. It is February
17th, 2010. I am here with Ted Foster, who spent much of his career
at Westinghouse in Baltimore, to talk about his career and about
Westinghouse. If I could start with a little background. When and
where were you born and raised?
I was born in 1941 in Lynchburg, Virginia and went through high
school in Lynchburg. And then I left Lynchburg in '59 to go to
the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Were you interested in technology and science growing up?
Yes. It was always interesting to me but I had a fascinating experience
that got me more interested. When I was in the 7th grade, I visited
an uncle in West Virginia who was a ham
radio operator. And at the time, being very young, I hadn't
seen anything like this, and I was really fascinated with the glowing vacuum
tubes. I didn't know what to make of it. I was so fascinated
by it that I came back to Lynchburg and got my license as a ham
operator. And, fortunately, my father decided to get his license
too as a way of supporting me. And so we built a ham rig and I
operated it through high school. When I went to college we weren't
allowed to have an antenna outside, and by that time I'd lost interest
in ham radio. I was more interested in the technology. Some hams
are interested in talking and they want to talk to as many people
as possible. That's not me.
I was more into the technology and once I was through high school
and I'd built the rig and all of that, those days were over. So
I went on from there to study engineering. Engineering was the
obvious thing to study.
Nothing else really seemed to matter. Engineering was clearly
So you went to the University of Virginia into the engineering
Yes. I got a scholarship and I finished in 1963.
Did you go there from your ham background planning on electrical
Yes. In those days when you were admitted into an engineering
school it was generally understood that you decided which program
you wanted to enter, not just engineering in general. And I already
knew it was going to be electrical engineering.
What was the curriculum in electrical engineering like at the
University of Virginia in the late 50s, early 60s?
Well, fundamentals of electricity, physics, chemistry, statics,
dynamics , thermodynamics, mechanical drawing and lots of math.
Electrical engineers also had to learn about power. So, you know,
DC and AC power and DC motors and generators and AC motors and generators.
Those things aren't taught any more in the basic electrical engineering
program because they are too specialized. So, a lot of that, plus
basic circuit design, solid state physics and a good dose of liberal
That's sort of the nature of University of Virginia - that’s
it’s a more liberal approach to engineering than, say, Virginia
Tech. Virginia Tech was known as an excellent engineering design
school. And University of Virginia was known as being a little
bit broader in its perspective.
And is that why you chose Virginia?
Yes. I think, but, you know, I visited Virginia in the fall of
my senior year and fell in love with the architecture and the Thomas
And I decided this is where I'm going. I didn't visit any other
schools and I didn't apply anywhere else. I just decided, this
is clearly for me.
And then in the end of my junior year, I got a call from a professor
who said they were starting a new honors program and they were
inviting a classmate and me to join it. But because I would be
entering it only in my senior year and it would be a 2-year program,
I wouldn't be able to graduate with honors. But I would be one
of the first two students to go through this program. So, instead
of going to classes, I was tutored by this professor every day.
He would assign me homework and he would tutor me for an hour or
so. I sat in on some classes informally but I was no longer taking
classes as a regular part of my curriculum. That experience was
very influential because I learned how the professor thinks. It
was his clear methodical way of looking at things that I don't
think I would have received in the classroom; you get it through
that personal contact.
What was the professor’s name?
His name was Dr. Cliff Siegel. I considered him to be the best
faculty member in the department and I was very pleased to have
the opportunity to be tutored by him on a personal basis.
Did, did you join IEEE - or rather one, either of, its predecessors
- while you were at the University of Virginia?
Yes, I was in the student chapter - but then when I graduated,
and went on to graduate school, it didn't seem relevant for a while.
I joined again later. But was not active for many years. I reactivated
my membership later because I was at UMBC and the dean asked me
to get involved with the engineering accreditation process. To
be an evaluator for accrediting engineering programs you have to
be a senior member of a technical society. So I applied for senior
membership and learned how to do evaluations for accreditation
of electrical engineering and computer engineering programs.
PhD at Johns Hopkins
At what point did you decide that you wanted to go on from Virginia
for a PhD rather than entering the workforce?
Interesting question. I remember that day in particular. I was
in the hallway and one of my instructors came up to me and said
that I really should consider going for a PhD. I don't think the
thought had occurred to me before. I was clearly heading for industry.
I didn't even think about a PhD. And from that day on, I just
sort of went down that path. But if he had not said that, I'm not
sure I ever would have thought of it. I still remember it these
45 years or so later.
What was his name, If you recall?
No. I remember his face but I don't remember his name —
[Laughing] That happens.
He was not a full faculty member. He was an instructor in one
of the power laboratories.
And how did you come to select Hopkins for grad school rather
than someplace else?
When I was in my senior year I decided to interview with some
companies to see if they [had] any programs for supporting graduate
students. When the Westinghouse interviewer came to campus he mentioned
that Westinghouse had a program in which 30 or so students would
be hired and sent to graduate school. And he said "why don't you
apply?" So I did. I came for an interview in Baltimore and I learned
that they were not selecting thirty but only two. So I thought,
okay well that's that, you know [Chuckling], I went away thinking
that was dead. Then I got a call one day that I'd been selected
for this fellowship. They were offering to pay me a full salary
and tuition and my job was to go to Hopkins and get a PhD. And
when I finished, I would have a job. And I thought well, you know,
I can't turn that down —
In the meantime I had applied for and received a National Science
Foundation fellowship to go to Harvard or MIT. I had been accepted
to both schools. So I went to my instructors to get their advice.
And my mentor, Dr. Siegel, said I should take the Westinghouse
offer. And other people said “take the Westinghouse offer,” all
except for one other highly respected professor who had been on
the faculty at Harvard and he said "take Harvard because it will
affect your whole life.” And sometimes I look back and wonder
if I had taken his advice, how would life have turned out differently.
But, anyway, it was nice to have the reassurance of a full salary
and a job waiting at the end of graduate school. NSF fellowships
had to be renewed every year. And if your grades weren't good enough,
your fellowship may not get renewed.
The Westinghouse program was at Hopkins. It wasn't like “come
with us and go to Harvard.” It was —
Go to the local first rate university. [Chuckling]
That's right. But Hopkins wasn't as well known for engineering
as the other schools. And I also knew that I would come out with
a somewhat lesser reputation because Hopkins is great in medicine,
but engineering was not known to be its strength at the time. But,
anyway, it turned out fine.
How did this arrangement with Westinghouse influence what you
studied in graduate school?
My Westinghouse manager said "we need PhDs in solid state physics
or solid state engineering. That's the up and coming technology
and we want you to go study that in particular." So it was clear;
the curriculum was pretty much laid out. This program, I guess,
was an agreement between Hopkins and Westinghouse. You come here
and take these courses and do your research, write your thesis
and you get your PhD in solid state engineering. I didn't know
anything about solid state. I think it was my weakest area in school.
But I said “oh well, that's where the need is, I think I
can learn it.” So I went to Hopkins and started studying
solid state physics and engineering, even though it would not have
been my choice. As it turns out, it was a good decision because
solid state was the future. And so people decided that for me without
me having the vision to know that.
And what did you do your thesis on?
The interaction between ultrasonic waves in crystals and drifting
electrons. I had seen a paper written by Don White at Bell
Labs about how it seemed possible to amplify ultrasonic waves
in a crystal by applying an electric field across the crystal.
And that sounded like a great idea because you wouldn't have to
convert ultrasonic waves into an electronic signal to amplify them.
You'd do it all in the ultrasonic medium. And so I decided to go
into that field. And while I was doing my research, I accidentally
discovered a phenomenon that I had not predicted. And I took it
to my faculty advisor and asked if it would be an appropriate thesis
subject. He agreed. So, by accident I discovered something that
allowed me to write a thesis and finish in four years, whereas,
if I had tried to prove what I thought I was going to prove I might
not have succeeded or would have taken another year. Who knows
how long it may have taken? But I was just lucky, I stumbled across
a phenomenon interaction between drifting electrons and phonons
and it was worthy of a thesis.
Who was your thesis advisor?
Dr. Jan Minkowsky, who was a survivor of concentration camps during
World War II. He was tough as nails. Nothing fazed him because
of his history. And he was a really excellent mentor. He has since
passed away. I worked in the Carlyle Barton Laboratory which was
funded, in general, by an Air Force contract. So the equipment
was there, paid for by the Air Force grant. Another grad student,
Don Dernburg, was already working in a laboratory on a contract
and I was just able to join his lab. I used the same equipment
and I pursued my research while he was pursuing another subject,
using the same equipment. That meant I didn't have to build the
equipment, it was already there. I just got to run my experiments
and go in my direction simultaneously with him doing his. And we
got our PhDs on the same day in ‘67.
How much contact did you have with Westinghouse while you were
being paid by them to take your doctorate?
The first summer, part of the summer, I went to the Westinghouse
education center in Pittsburgh where all new engineers go. It's
[a] sort of indoctrination into Westinghouse. The second summer
I did laboratory research halftime to learn something about lab
work. And the other halftime I studied French and German because
French and German were both requirements for a PhD. I had had one
summer semester of German at UVA and then I finished learning enough
German and French to pass the language exams. And after that summer
I didn't go back again except for a once- a-year review. I'd go
in and tell them how I was doing and they would say, "keep going
and then come back when you’re finished." So there was just
that once a year contact.
So it was '67 you finished your PhD.
Going to Westinghouse, SAW Devices
And now you actually come to work for Westinghouse.
Yes. I went to work in what was called the Advanced Development
Department, which was working on advanced concepts. That lasted
for about a year but then there was a reorganization. Dick Linder
who later was the president of the Defense Center, at that time
was manager of a department called Equipment Design. He folded
in all of the Advanced Development people into his Equipment Design
department. And I was put into a group doing advanced development.
I remember one day I was in the lab standing in front of a vacuum
system doing experiments in thin film transistors and
Dick walked up to me and said "I'd like you to work on optical
signal processing." I had no idea what optical signal processing
was. It was like, change careers, drop what you're doing. “Optical
signal processing is coming along and we think it might be important;
we'd like you to learn about it.” So I started studying up
on this new thing called optical signal processing.
About when are we talking about now when you - ?
Well I would say 1968 to '69.
So it wasn't long from your arrival that you moved off into a
whole different area.
Right. And after several years of study, we concluded that it
did not seem practical, that you would always find a digital
approach to signal processing that would be as good. And that
you could not justify a whole new technology to do something that
was not really significantly better than alternate approaches.
So [in] about 1971, after we had worked on it a couple of years,
we wrote some papers summarizing our results. Some of the consulting
engineers with lots of experience took a look at all of this and
I think they decided "okay, that’s enough investment in that
area. Let’s give up and move onto other things."
Right. You had demonstrated that it was not an economically viable
Yes. Whereas, when we started we thought it might be fantastically
But you don't know until you try.
Right. And I don't think anybody ever built any practical optical
signal processing devices, at least within the next decade or two
that I was aware of. We were trying to do a fast Fourier transform
optically. If you can do very fast spectrum analysis using the
Fourier transform that results from the geometrical aspects of
optical signal processing, it seemed like that would be wonderful.
But now, of course, fast Fourier transforms using digital technology
are inexpensive. But in those days it was a big deal.
Fortunately, not too long after that I got to use my research
work for a useful project. Around 1970 or ’71 there was a
contract to upgrade the electronics including the pulse compressor
in the FPS-27 radar.
In those days, the idea of using surface acoustic waves for pulse
compression was new. I had read a few papers on surface acoustic
waves and I was familiar with the Bell Labs work in ultrasonics.
Most of their work was in bulk acoustic waves, not surface waves.
We developed a 13-bit Barker Code pulse compressor using surface
acoustic waves that turned out to be very successful. We put it
in production for the upgraded FPS-27 radar. We wrote a number
of papers and spoke about it at the Ultrasonics Symposium. No one
had ever used surface acoustic wave devices for production, so
they were impressed.
So now what's the chronology? Were you working on the SAW devices
and the optical signal processing roughly at the same time?
About the same time. I cannot recall if we had written off optical
signal processing at the time we decided to do the SAW device.
It could be just about the time we were writing off one -
- and the FPS 27 opportunity came along -
- and I collaborated with two other engineers, one of whom was
really a filter designer.
And so I guess I worked on that largely full time for about a
year or so before other opportunities and challenges came along.
Thick Film Technology, Vietnam War Contracts
And was it after the SAW device project was finished that you
became a supervisor? Or was there something in between.
In the west building there was a laboratory called the Hybrid
Electronics Lab. We were just beginning to make hybrid subsystems
like low noise amplifiers subsystems that would go into systems
like the FPS-27. Thin
film technology was the only thing that people had been using
up until that point to make the circuits. Thin film circuits were
not as cost effective as we needed. So we decided to start investigating
thick film printed circuits. We investigated the properties of
printed gold, mainly gold transmission lines, the impedance properties
and then, of course, the mechanical properties. And over a period
of several years we developed a very cost effective technology
for printing circuits and resistors and capacitors and
conductors, although I think we later went on to add bulk capacitors
and bulk inductors.
I was very much involved in that activity. We were writing papers
because the industry had not used thick film microwave technology
I was informally leading a group. And about '72 or '73 my supervisor
at the time, Wally Hoff, who later became number 2 at the Defense
Center, won the Westinghouse Lamme fellowship.
He went to Cambridge, England for a year. Before he left, he asked
me if I would take his group while he was gone for that year. So,
I inherited from him a number of signal processing engineers and
ongoing contracts. The Vietnam War was going on. We had contracts
with the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
There were several contracts to develop systems that would really
help the soldiers on the ground. One was a very advanced mine detector
that would detect not only metal mines but plastic mines that appeared
as voids in the earth. One of them that Wally Hoff had pioneered
was called an Improved Position Locator which was really a back-mounted
compass that was stabilized so that it was a good compass, and
a distance measuring device which consisted of a coil on each of
your ankles. It measured every step that a soldier took and resolved
that into north and east components by using the compass signal.
So, a soldier could walk wherever and know where he was and also
could reverse his position and come back to where he started. It
was like a poor man's GPS in those days. I inherited that contract,
which was also being conducted for Aberdeen Proving Grounds. And
Wally had another job which was to control dogs in the battlefield.
We would mount electronics on a dog so that you could tell which
way the dog was pointing and you could give the dog instructions
and tell him which way to go. When Wally came back at the end of
a year, we split the group and he took the signal processing half
of the group and I took the microwaves half of the group. I was
still not a supervisor - I was a group leader, but in those days
a supervisor position was hard to get because they were very limited
Promotions and Solid State Radar
The next promotion was to fellow engineer. I was doing a supervisory
job but they gave me a fellow engineer title because that's all
they had. I continued from that point on supervising groups, but
on the microwave side.
At that time there was a revolution in military electronics occurring
- converting radar systems to solid state. The power amplifiers
all the way through the entire transmitters were being converted
to solid state. And, fortunately, we had some fantastic engineers
and we were leading the world in solid state radar transmitters.
We won all the development contracts that came out, like from Rome
Air Development Center and others. And we kept building higher
and higher power radar transmitters, mainly UHF, and finally got
the contract to convert the SPS-40 transmitter to all solid state.
That was, by far, the highest power solid state radar transmitter
in the world, 240-KW. And in 1978 I became section manager. I was
responsible for four groups, one of which was developing solid
state transmitters. One was the Hybrid Electronics Facility and
one was doing high power solid state modulators for tube transmitters.
So, basically, I started managing in about '73. Informally. And
continued that until I retired in 1990.
When you're working on these conversions to solid state radar,
was this largely upgrading existing systems or developing entirely
new systems or some combination of the two?
Well, the targets of opportunity were existing systems if you
could convince the government radar program manager that his system
could be more reliable by converting the transmitter to solid state.
We targeted the SPS-40 because that was known to have a very unreliable
transmitter. And you could get the statistics on how often the
ship was in port having its transmitter repaired. We were able
to get development contracts from the SPS-40 program office. Prior
to that we had been building solid state drivers, which is one
stage before the final amplifier. We had some good success at L-Band
with the TPS-63.
We converted its driver to solid state, which was a huge reliability
improvement, although we didn't replace the final transmitter tube
until many years later. So we were proving our capability with
targets of opportunity -systems that we already had that were unreliable
and the customer was unhappy. We could convince them to convert
pieces of it to solid state, always hoping that we would get the
opportunity to convert the entire radar to solid state. As I said,
we eventually got permission to convert the SPS-40, which was UHF.
UHF transistors are much more efficient than those for any higher
frequencies. So it's easier to make the conversion in UHF, around
450 megahertz. And at L-Band which is 1.3 gigahertz, transistor
efficiency is dropping off.
In those days S-Band, 2.7 to 3.00 gigahertz transistors were really
falling off badly, but we were beginning to push. I thought we
could do something in S-Band someday and there are some S-Band
systems that could be converted. In the meantime I think we did
the driver for AWACS, which is S-Band. We made that solid state.
So we were just doing pieces at a time, converting a piece whenever
there was an opportunity. Looking for the big payoff, which was
And you got there.
Yes. The other thing that was happening a little bit later was
that the television industry
was converting to digital. And, as you know, now it's converted.
But in those days there was going to be a mandate that everything
had to go digital, which means you have to abandon all your VHF
transmitters and build a whole new family of transmitters at UHF.
So going after the whole industry of solid state broadcast transmitters
was something that was targeted for a while. Then the government
decided to put off the mandate for a few years. So the market went
away for a while. It came back later.
Right. So by '78, or so, you had four groups reporting -
Four groups, yes. It was called the Power Generation Section.
And by this point, were you spending all of your time managing
rather than doing engineering directly?
Oh yes. I think there were 45 engineers in the group.
That doesn’t leave any time for you to do any engineering
[Chuckling] does it?
Well no. No, not any design engineering. But those were very technical
jobs we were working on. So I was closely involved with the people
doing the work because you have to make decisions about things.
And if you don't understand, you can't make a decision. Fortunately
people were very patient and explained to me what they were doing.
So I was able to go out and help get money to continue going down
certain development paths. Even though we were in an equipment
design department, we were trying to push the state of the art
in some certain areas.
We had a mission. We were going to convert radars to solid state.
Well you can't do that without money and opportunity. So I would
try to understand the technology well enough to help with the decisions
and with getting the contracts, the opportunities to do it. Then
I was part of the selling team, to see the SPS-40 program manager
over and over, until we convinced him that we can actually build
a solid state transmitter.
So you were going out. Did the customers come from the various
Yes. There were also program offices within Westinghouse. You'd
get with a program manager whose job it was to go after the SPS-40
transmitter. So he and I would go to see the SPS-40 program office
in Crystal City. And he said, "I've got a real reliability problem." And,
we said "we think we can solve it for you, let me demonstrate this
solid state amplifier. If that works we'll demonstrate more power
to you.” So you do it in pieces. And eventually, when you've
demonstrated that it can be done, then by that time the SPS-40
program manager had sold the Navy on the idea.
Now so would there, in this case with the SPS-40, would there
have been a specific Westinghouse program manager you worked with?
Yes. Charlie Smith. Charlie was in charge of selling it, not managing
it after it came in.
Right. He was in charge of selling it. Once it came in were you
the one who was -
Well no, because if you win it, then there's a program office
here that matches the Navy program office. By that time I had moved
on to other jobs. The program was won by my successors and the
program office. They set up a program office to do the development
of the transmitter, and then go into production.
In this job who did you report to?
I reported to Hank Airth at the time who was an engineering vice
president of that part of Westinghouse.
How does one manage a technical group of this size and nature
[Chuckling] I hadn't thought about how one does that. Well, I
think managing is more about leading than directing. My approach
was [to] try to inspire people. To have them able to work on the
most advanced projects that were going to make a big difference.
My job was to help get the funding and approval to do really exciting
things. The leaders in each of these groups were excited to have
the opportunity to do that. So we worked together to create for
ourselves an interesting future, a future where we could contribute.
If you're going to convert transmitters to solid state that’s
a big deal and, look, we're all in this together. My job was sort
of inspirational. Of course, it has to do with putting the right
people in the right jobs and sometimes taking people out of jobs
who didn't fit. So I think that that was a large part of it, trying
to understand why do people work. I think engineers work because
they believe in the cause. I’d far rather be involved in
work that everybody considered great and was worth doing than work
to get a salary. So I was always looking for how to find the inspiration
so that everybody was going [to] be really excited about what they're
And I remember very vividly, I was in an environment where there
was a factory part of our building and every day at 3:30 when the
bell rang there was a big group of factory people running down
the hall trying to escape as fast as possible. You could interpret
that as trying to get to the parking lot to avoid the traffic jam
but you could also interpret it as "let me out of here, I hate
it and I can't stand one more minute." And I thought let's try
to not live life that way.
Who were some of the key people who worked under you in your group
during these years?
Well, in the solid state group, the transmitter group, Al Morse,
who became eventually a consulting engineer, and recently retired.
Al was an outstanding designer of the most advanced power combining
circuitry for combining lots of transistors in parallel so that
they wouldn't kill each other and so that you could get all of
the power out, without significant efficiency loss. Ken Lee was
the supervisor of the group, whereas Al was the fellow engineer.
So in a sense we were a partnership. Ken would supervise the group,
Al would do the technical leading and I would just sort of run
interference for them. Certainly those were the two most outstanding
people in that group.
In another group, the one that developed high power radar modulators,
Ed Hooper was the senior technical person and Ed Piechoviak was
the group leader. And between them they were leading the industry
in solid state modulators for high power radar transmitters. It
was exciting to be at the forefront of that technology too. One
other group was the hybrid electronics facility. Mike Kline was
the person who ran that group for many years. And later in my career
when I got another assignment to do something which I guess we'll
talk about later, I recruited Mike to come over and take on this
new assignment with me.
Because he was a real go-getter. He thrived on making that hybrid
electronic facility succeed. It was a prototype facility that was
actually a factory. It was producing production equipment in parallel
with the real factory. When they needed a solid state amplifier
that was hybrid they'd buy it from us. We had technicians and engineers
working there and we were a miniature factory that was supplying
Surveillance Radar Systems, Matrix Organization
So then you left the solid state program. When would that be,
in the early 80's?
'82, and then you moved on to surveillance radar systems.
Yes. The way we were organized was that the program offices that
were in charge of various radar systems had an engineering component.
Lou Meren was the engineering manager of that division. He assigned
me to be the engineering manager in a particular portion of that
business which was called Air Force Surveillance Radars and included
the TPS-43 which was a backbone radar of our business. The TPS-70
was coming along, as was a radar system for a European country.
We were supporting development of new radars like the TPS-70 plus
existing radars that had been in production for a few years; the
TPS-43 was going through an upgrade, and, again, it was back to
interacting with the customer to convince them that you can build
an improved system.
We had lots of international visitors who would come in and I
would give them a presentation about our new radar systems. I remember
one particular Japanese visitor who had jet lag and he asked to
be allowed to stand up during the presentation. So he stood up
during the entire presentation because he knew if he sat down,
he would fall asleep. He was just trying to stay awake long enough
to listen to what we were saying. That was 1982. I think we had
four different radar developments going on at the time. There was
an engineering manager reporting to me for each of those radar
Their job was to go to the design departments to get the design
engineers for their project. So at that point my job also involved
helping to sell these new radar systems to international customers.
And it's now primarily international customers rather than US
Well they were US radars.
And we were upgrading them for the US government. But there was
an agreement with the US government that if you can find foreign
allies to also buy radar systems at the same time, it increases
the total pool of development money. It was part of foreign military
sales. So we were selling to Argentina, Turkey, and other allied
countries that were buying the same systems that the US government
So it was like a parallel sale. You sell to the US government
and you sell to its allies. And so you never know what the day
would have in store. One day you come to work and you find that
there's going to be a contingent from Argentina today. Can you
speak to them? You have to have your presentation ready, because
you don't know from one day to the next who's going to be there.
They show up and you're called on to come in and tell our customers
about our new radar systems.
Were there language problems or did these visitors speak English?
On rare occasions they would have an interpreter. And so you would
have to speak slowly and wait for the interpreter to finish the
sentence. Other times they spoke English. But I didn't speak their
Right. I'm just curious - you're dealing with international customers,
people whose native languages aren't English, how do you communicate?
Well, they are in America to buy an American radar. So they know
that they've got to bring along translators or they've got to understand
English well enough to get along. So by the time they got to me
they had already faced that problem.
And who did you report to in this position?
Lou Meren. Dick Koehler was the program manager of the Air Force
Surveillance Radar Department. Lou Meren was engineering manager
for several product lines. There was also an Army radar product
line with another program manager and engineering manager.
And about how many people did you have in the organization under
you at that point?
Well, solid line, only four or five managers or so.
And did they each have people under them?
Dotted line. That is, they would go to the functional organization
and recruit engineers for their project. The way the matrix organization
works is that there were a lot of local group supervisors and section
managers like I had been in those design groups. The engineering
manager went to the design groups to recruit transmitter engineers
and receiver engineers and some signal processing engineers. And
the supervisor allocated people and managed them and the engineering
manager oversaw this process because he was working with the engineers
and their supervisors in parallel. It was a cooperative arrangement
where you didn’t have to have those people reporting to you
And the matrix organization still works very well, as far as I
know. Westinghouse was very proud of its matrix organization. And
they now call it the Home Room. The Home Room manager is responsible
for the technology and the well-being of all the people in the
group. And when a program manager wants something done, the Home
Room manager takes on the responsibility of leading engineers to
accomplish it. And the program manager or the engineering manager
from the program office is still in charge, sort of, but it's a
shared responsibility. Because he can't take on the direct leadership
of all those engineers. Some program offices do that more formally.
They move the people into the program office. But, even then, their
Home Room supervisor is still responsible for them. And when they
finish that assignment, their next assignment is the responsibility
of their Home Room manager. That process worked very well and still
works very well, as far as I know, but I've been gone ten years.
VHSIC, MMIC and a New Radar Factory
And then from there you moved onto the VHSIC project?
Westinghouse had one of, I think, five government contracts to
develop a VHSIC (Very High Speed Integrated
Circuit) chip set. TRW had one, IBM and Honeywell had one.
I forget who the other one was. But we each had roughly $50 million
contracts to develop a VHSIC chip set. The government was taking
the initiative to develop high speed chips because industry was
not going to do it. So I became manager of the VHSIC program without
any knowledge at all of the subject. I mean it was really amazing
how little I knew about the subject. [Chuckling]
I didn’t understand the language and technology of integrated
circuits. I had never been involved with that technology before
and I was overwhelmed by it. The first day on the job I learned
that we had 75 government customers who were going to come in three
weeks to do a program review because the VHSIC program was high
profile. There was a community of government reviewers who would
go from one company to the other for periodic reviews. And so,
75 were going to be coming the third week of January for a day
and a half review. I was supposed to give the summary initial presentation,
45 minutes [Chuckling] and so I remember how overwhelmed I was.
I had to organize a day and a half worth of presentations for 75
customers and I had to try to avoid sounding like a complete fool.
And [Chuckling] that was just very scary. Fortunately, a lot of
really good people were on the project. And so I would call them
in and say, “tell me about this, or that.” And they
would tell me and I'd forget most of it instantly because I had
no context to remember it. I think I lost 90% of what they said.
But they were very good people. And we were able to pull together
a very successful review in three weeks and I gave the [Chuckling]
opening presentation, of course, with lots of coaching from my
subordinates, and it went quite well. But it's certainly a good
example of learning under pressure. And the learning didn't end
The review ended and I still had to learn what it was all about.
I had that job a couple of years. And it was a wonderful experience.
Our subcontractor was National Semiconductor,
so I'd go out once a month for a review in Santa Clara. And, of
course, AI was learning every minute. Their job was to produce
a VHSIC chip set. Our job was to design it. So we had an east coast
design team and a west coast production team. That was an excellent
learning experience, to work with a commercial semiconductor house
and learn their culture and their technology.
Wally Hoff was my manager at that time, too, because he was in
charge of the entire Westinghouse signal processing activities,
including VHSIC. So, fortunately, I was able to continue learning
from Wally in that job too, while managing the VHSIC contract,
which was a subset of the larger set of technologies that Wally
was in charge of. I did that from '85 for two or three years.
At that time there was a growing understanding of the importance
of microwave integrated circuits using gallium arsenide for the
future, because radar systems at S-Band and especially X-Band depend
on gallium arsenide, not silicon. So I started using my experience
with silicon integrated circuits to influence the local operations
in gallium arsenide. The Westinghouse Advanced Technology Lab was
working in that technology but wasn't making fast enough progress.
We realized that we needed progress faster than they could make
it with the investment that was being made. We had to find out
what other companies were doing with it and how to make this technology
available. And so I was asked to take some program responsibility
for gallium arsenide MMICs (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits)
at the same time as VHSIC. Companies were developing their own
versions of VHSIC chip sets and that technology didn't need too
much more push from us. But gallium arsenide microwave integrated
circuits were just in their infancy and they really needed a big
boost. And we needed them badly for the radar systems we were going
to be involved with, which were mostly in X-Band and above. So
I started working on MMICs around 1987 or '88, taking a lead in
trying to get the efficiency up to something that we could use.
Well that was the time in '87 or '88 when the predecessor for
what's now the F-22 fighter was being developed for the Air Force.
There were two competitors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and their
radar was being defined along with the whole plane. The question
was whether it would be a passive electronically scanned array
(ESA) or an active one. What do I mean by that? We use the term “passive” to
mean that the power is generated in the transmitter and is distributed
to the radiating elements by a manifold and it uses phase shifters
to switch the phase of all the signals going out from the radiating
elements. The problem with that kind of system is that there is
a 3 dB loss on transmit and another 3 dB loss on receive, so you
lose three-quarters of the power that you generate. That loss was
acceptable for the radar for the B-1 bomber because it's a big
plane, with lots of prime power and a large enough antenna that
you can afford to lose the power. But in a fighter, the radar antenna
has to be much smaller to fit in the nose and the prime power available
is much less. So the radar design became a contest between the
tried and true technology which is passive phase shifters, the
B-1 technology, versus putting amplifiers in transmit/receive modules
on the antenna. You don't lose 3 dB going out and you don't lose
3 dB when the signal comes back. The echo goes immediately to a
low noise amplifier which sets the noise figure. So it became clear
to the systems engineers who were doing in-depth analyses that
the only way to build the radar that would work would be to use
transmit/receive modules at every one of the radiating elements.
Well, there are roughly 2,000 radiating elements on an antenna
and each one requires a microwave assembly that normally costs
$10,000 to build by hand. So that's $20 million per radar just
for the transmitter and receiver. That ignores everything else,
like the antenna. Clearly unaffordable. So we knew that if we were
ever going to be able to build modern radar, the opportunity to
change the whole paradigm in how radars get built, then we had
to prove to ourselves and to the customer that we could build 2,000
modules cost effectively for every radar system. And there were
going to be hundreds and hundreds of radars. So it required a design
that could be manufactured and a manufacturing process that would
be highly automated and error free. Motorola had demonstrated how
to build high quality, complex electronics in high volumes with
essentially zero errors using Six Sigma. No inspection - you don't
inspect quality in, you just build quality in. So we had to have
a culture transformation. And we had to find where we were going
to get the gallium arsenide MIMICs we needed. The power amplifier
was the biggest challenge. And we had to be able to assemble all
of those MMICSs and other components into a transmit/receive module
and produce them at a price of roughly $400. We had to reduce the
price from $10,000 to $400. And we had to learn how to produce
them about 40 times faster than we ever had before. I was given
the job of getting us in that business. So in 1988 my job became
manager of antenna modules. And I was also manager of the Microwave
Design Department. My biggest challenge was to take a portion of
the department and focus on affordable transmit-receive modules.
There were lots of other things going on in the department, but
those were, in general, well-led self-sustaining groups and I don't
think I had to invest much time in those - but the one that was
going to make the difference for the future was the group that
was designing the solid state transmit and receive modules. And
then I was also in charge of building a factory to produce them.
It was interesting that the engineering department was given the
responsibility to build the new factory, instead of the factory
Because the factory was known as old-school-build-it-by- hand
and not willing to change their culture. Not nearly fast enough
to win the contract for the F-22. So we ran very fast to build
an automated factory that would build the modules and we worked
in parallel designing the modules themselves. The factory technicians
were under the direction of engineers within the factory and that
was pretty revolutionary for the time.
The lab was the show piece of the entire complex. I remember one
day when there was a presidential election and Dan Quayle was the
vice president running for re-election. He visited Westinghouse
on election day. He came around to the new factory and I have a
picture of me from the Baltimore Sun and Dan Quayle is leaning
over a microscope in my lab and Dick Linder and the CEO of Westinghouse
were standing behind me. We were showing off this new factory that
was going to be the future of radar systems.
We were very proud of it. I brought Mike Kline over from the Hybrid
Electronics Lab and said “Mike, I want you to help me build
this factory of the future.” Our partner was Texas Instruments.
They were already building modules like this. They had their own
design which we didn't agree with. And Texas Instruments was trying
to become the leader in this technology. We realized that we had
to also build these modules or Texas Instruments would become our
supplier by default. And we would lose the business to them.
We had a cooperative arrangement where Texas Instruments and Westinghouse
created dual factories that were similar to each other and we shared
the production. Then that factory went on to become the factory
for the radar for the Joint Strike Fighter which is coming up.
Now it's a very modern factory that produces all parts of the radar
system. And it's now the basis for most everything they do in radar,
including some ground-based radar too. You can use those same modules
in X-Band, tank-mounted or Jeep-mounted radars. I'm proud that
we got to be pioneers in converting over to a technology that's
now the central technology in their radar business. Those were
Engineering Manufactuing Advisory Council
One other thing I noticed from your resume from those days is
that you represented Westinghouse on the Engineering Manufacturing
Advisory Council of Westinghouse.
Yes. That was an organization of engineers and manufacturing managers
across the corporation. We would come together every few months
to compare best practices across different Westinghouse divisions.
Some members were from defense but most were not defense. I remember
giving them a presentation about our manufacturing challenge -
that we had to produce these modules and how we were doing it -
and they were really impressed. We were suddenly labeled as the
leader in advanced manufacturing within Westinghouse. They weren't
doing anything like that. The use of statistics and Six Sigma was
something I was trying to get them to do and I think they never
concluded that they needed to do any of that. But for us it was
essential - if we didn't do it, we would not ever succeed. Fortunately
there were good pioneers who had done that before. There was an
American who went over to Japan after the war, Edward Deming.
Edward Deming, yes.
And he showed them the importance of Six Sigma and then [Genichi]
Taguchi got involved at that time. It was adopted by Ford and Motorola.
I went to Motorola and visited their chief engineer and he told
[me] what they did and I came back and said “we've got to
do what they do” and, fortunately, we had some people who
agreed with me. And we were able to make that transformation.
Westinghouse Baltimore Memories
Before we move onto your years in Pittsburgh, is there anything
else from these several decades in Baltimore that we neglected
No I think we covered it fairly well.
Then let me ask you one more question. What was Westinghouse Baltimore
like as a place to work: atmosphere, camaraderie, social activities,
anything that comes to mind?
Westinghouse, in my opinion, was the best there was anywhere in
the world in terms of technology. Occasionally I would think perhaps
I should go to work for some other company. Then I would think,
why would I do that? You cannot get any better work than this anywhere
in the country, in terms of defense. We led the country in the
areas of technology that I was interested in. I felt that the people
I was working with were always topnotch. There was always an air
of cooperation. But I didn't have any real comparison; I never
worked anywhere else.
You're so busy you don't spend a lot of time talking to people
in other companies. You don't even know people in other companies.
So I didn't have a lot of comparison. But I had no reason to believe
that there was any better opportunity anywhere in the country to
go work. And looking back on it, I still think that's true. I remember
[Chuckling] in 1977 or '78, I think, Dick Linder asked me to head
the hardware design portion of a proposal to build a solid state
phased array called Pave PAWS (Phased Array Warning System). The
Pave PAWS system was in competition, and Raytheon was the main
competitor. I think GE was
also proposing. Raytheon was proposing to build it in a fairly
conventional way. So was GE. And we had had some success in solid
state transmitters so we decided that we were going to propose
solid state. So I became part of a two-person selling team, Omar
Jacomini, who was a consulting engineer, and I went on the road
to convince the Air Force that they should build the Pave PAWS
radar as a solid state phased array. We developed the transmit/receive
module and demonstrated that it would work. We wrote a great proposal
and the Air Force chose us in the sense that they thought we were
the best technically, but Raytheon came in at $19 million less.
The Air Force customer said he couldn't justify not going with
Raytheon because their bid was $19 [million] less than yours. So
we lost. Later we heard that at the first meeting with the Air
Force Raytheon raised their price about $19 million. They found
a way to underbid us and then to work the customer to get the price
to be what it needed to be to get the job done.
We were just too straightforward and we bid what we thought it
was going to cost, and we lost. My career would have been different
had we won that job because I would have had some major role in
a really big phased array development program. That was an opportunity
lost. Later in my career, I competed against Raytheon in other
areas and lost again. I was always angry at them for what I thought
was dirty dealing. So I was biased against going to work for Raytheon
because I did not like them.
Who knows if it was accurate? But it’s just my perception.
So you asked if anything was going on during that time. In addition
to running groups, occasionally I would get an assignment: take
over this portion of a huge proposal – Pave PAWS. It was
a $100 million proposal. And in those days that was a lot of money.
$120 million I think, But aside from the fact that we couldn't
beat Raytheon, it was still a good place to work.
Raytheon is very good at Army radars. They are highly respected
by the Army and so they win. They control a number of important
Army systems, like Patriot.
Moving to Pittsburgh, Westinghouse Troubles
How did your move from Baltimore to Pittsburgh come about? You're
the first person I've interviewed who spent any time in Pittsburgh
after arriving in Baltimore.
Well, in about 1989 the corporation was getting a little nervous
about whether the research labs were being run in such a way that
they were getting their money's worth. The labs were costing a
lot of money and we never get very much worthwhile from them. So,
the vice president at the research labs at the time, Isaac Barpal,
decided that in order to have the research labs be useful, it had
to have business unit people manage it on behalf of the business
units. So they came to their electronics division, which was here,
and asked them to send somebody. They asked me if I would be willing
to move to Pittsburgh to manage the electronics portion of the
research labs on their behalf. I realized that I would never get
such an opportunity here in Baltimore. Because here, to become
a general manager, you have to run a part of the business. And
my background was not running businesses. My background was technology.
The only opportunity I was going to get for a big promotion was
this opportunity to manage technology, which I'd done most of my
Besides you needed a PhD, by definition. Well, there were practically
no PhDs around. So this PhD that Westinghouse had paid for all
those years earlier paid off because at the time there was practically
no other PhDs to choose; maybe one or two, but they weren't interested
in management. I was the only PhD around who was interested in
management. There were some good managers around who could have
done a good job but they didn't have a PhD. And so I went to Pittsburgh
to try to improve the electronics research that was feeding into
Westinghouse defense - microwave components, various solid state
devices, and microelectronics.
There were four or five groups already doing research that could
pay off for Westinghouse, but it was not paying off.
So these are groups in Pittsburgh who might be able to connect
to the work in Baltimore.
They were already being paid to do it. Every division was being
taxed to send money to the research labs, but not much was coming
back. That was the perception. So the plan was for me to go to
Pittsburgh to represent defense and see if I could make that research
more productive. So I went up around the beginning of 1990. And
I arrived there and took over five groups or so. There was another
manager from another part of Westinghouse who came in to be the
general manager of the part of the research labs that was doing
work in chemical processes and energy-related technology.
There was a third general manager who was involved with industrial
electronics, high power electronics and information technology.
After I was there about a year or so the vice president decided
to eliminate that position and split that division. So all of that
general manager's electronics departments were given to me and
everything that he was doing that was energy-related was given
to the other new general manager. So then instead of having three
general managers there, there were two. I then had nine departments
and 220 people, many of them PhDs. And they were all doing what
I considered to be really excellent work. It was fun to be there
because I was involved with leading nine departments, all doing
work that I thought was going to make a big difference for some
part of the corporation. We would give presentations to the president
of Westinghouse and the CEO and let them know what was happening
and show them this is really going to make a big difference for
But about that time Westinghouse was getting in financial trouble.
They were in financial trouble largely because they had invested
in real estate development, developing hotels, malls, shopping
centers and there was a collapse in that market. Westinghouse had
loaned lots of money to those developers, and when those developers
went bankrupt, they couldn't pay back the loans to Westinghouse.
The corporation was bleeding the operating divisions, including
Baltimore, to stay afloat. And, about '95, a new CEO, Michael Jordan
came in to take a fresh look at what to do with Westinghouse. He
did a lot of analysis and concluded that we should concentrate
in broadcast. Westinghouse already had a broadcast division and
he bought CBS to add to it.
That was in the summer of '96. And he decided to sell off the
other divisions. So he sold the Distribution and Control business
unit. He sold the power generation business to Siemens. They were
headquartered in Orlando. And every time he would sell off a business
the researchers would go with it. So the research organization
was dwindling. Northrop Grumman had already come to Westinghouse
to buy Electronic Systems and the Westinghouse CEO said it was
not for sale. But when he went through all his analysis and decided
to invest in broadcast and divest everything else, he announced
that Electronics Systems was for sale. Northrop Grumman showed
up first. They said “we're not leaving until we get it.” They
started negotiating and when they left they had it. I was sold
to Northrop Grumman, along with 130 people from the research labs.
And other parts of my division were left with the other general
manager, to serve the other parts of Westinghouse. These 130 people
were now the Northrop Grumman Science and Technology Center -
In Pittsburgh. So I was the director of that center. And I continued
to do that for a while.
Returning to Baltimore
But it became clear that my manager at Northrop Grumman in Baltimore
was not comfortable having a director in Pittsburgh making the
decisions that really needed to be made here [in Baltimore].
So it became evident to me that I was not needed there and I may
as well come back home. And so I asked if they could find a place
for me to come home.
What happened to the 130 people in Pittsburgh after you came back?
I recommended one of my managers to take it over. He managed it
for about a year. Then Northrop Grumman decided that they no longer
could justify having their research labs in Pittsburgh. So they
decided to make offers to some of the people to come here and others,
no offer. They decided who the most useful people were and offered
them a job in Baltimore. But some of the best people looked around
and found other high tech jobs in Pittsburgh. So only about a dozen
of those people came to Baltimore, although more than that received
offers to move. About a dozen came here and are working on different
technologies and the rest of them are employed elsewhere. They
also moved some of the equipment from Pittsburgh to Baltimore,
and I think they sold off the other equipment.
So what did you do? What position did you find back here in Baltimore?
The position I came to was to head up a proposal for an aerostat-borne
radar system. It had various names, but eventually it became known
as JLENS, Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Elevated Netted Sensor.
It was intended to defend the troops against incoming missiles
several hundred miles away. There were two competitors, Raytheon
and Northrop Grumman. Raytheon had been funded to develop an approach
to solving that problem. The RFP specified a problem to solve and
we proposed to solve it with a solid state UHF radar and an X-Band
radar hanging under a tethered aerostat. The missile defense command
in Huntsville wanted the technology that had been developed by
Raytheon. And only Raytheon was proposing it. We weren't. So we
lost to Raytheon.
When we lost, I had to move on to another job. I was given an
assignment to be in charge of two businesses, both in electronics.
One of the businesses was infrared sensors for missile warning.
If you are being attacked by a heat seeking missile you want to
be able to detect the heat seeking missile and either deploy a
decoy or shine a high powered infrared source at it to confuse
it or defeat it. We were building the infrared missile warning
receiver. And that's very, very difficult technology because if
the receiver accidentally looks at the sun it would be blinded.
So you had to be able to look for a very, very, small infrared
signature of a missile and be able to exclude the sunlight. It
required about a billion to one rejection. We had to use some very
good filters which were being developed in one of [the] groups
in Pittsburgh that I had been in charge of before. That receiver
eventually went into production. And it is part of the DIRCM, Directed
Infrared Countermeasure system in which the countermeasure is now
Northrop Grumman builds that system to protect high value aircraft.
Originally they used flares as decoys. Later they developed the
laser to blind the incoming missile. The other business was infrared
cameras for night vision surveillance. There were two or three
different systems that we were building and some that we were competing
to build. I was in that job until near retirement.
Retiring from Westinghouse, Going to UMBC
I decided to retire in 1999 because my technology background was
not a good fit for their current needs.
Because the nature of the operations had changed after Northrop
Grumman took over?
Yes. And because the people they needed were radar program managers
or radar business managers. Well, I was not experienced as a radar
So when you reached the minimum retirement age it was a good opportunity
to leave on good terms and move on.
Yes. I was unhappy with not fitting their need, because I had
spent my whole career working very hard at being productive. I
no longer felt that I was contributing enough.
Fortunately for me, a local university, UMBC, was interested in
my background. Wally Hoff wrote their president a letter of introduction
for me. Coincidentally, the College of Engineering had extra money
in their budget that year and they made me an offer to come as
Assistant Dean in the engineering college. And I've been there
I think your current position is probably both too recent and
outside the scope of the project.
Is there anything that I neglected to ask you about that you might
No, I think you've been very thorough.
I try. [Laughing]
The process of looking at the résumé and devising
questions based on what you read there is a very good technique.
I never know, if sometimes there are questions that I don't know
to ask -
- and sometimes, you know, something you say would trigger a thought.
Exactly. So I always like to leave that open-ended opportunity.
Career at Westinghouse
Looking back how would you characterize overall your career here
Well, I was always interested in doing things that I thought would
make a difference that is technology oriented, that would be used
and would be significantly different or profoundly different from
what had been done before. Because, as I had said before, you really
need to enjoy what you're doing, and you’ve got to feel challenged.
And I only feel challenged if something that I'm doing is going
to make a big difference. And because I worked hard, I was given
some promotions. Northrop Grumman still does that. They look for
people who are movers and shakers, who are going to make a difference.
I was lucky that I had a chance to do it some, although I recognize
now the people they're promoting do it better than I did. I'm glad
to see that they're promoting some very sharp people.
Okay. Then unless you have anything else you'd like to add, I
think we’re finished.
Well I'll only think of things after I leave.
If when you read your transcript, you think of something that
you would like to have spoken about, you can add it to the transcript.
Thank you for your time.
It went well. And it went quickly too.
Well, I thank you very much for taking part. It's a pleasure to
meet you and it was a pleasure listening to you talk about your