Physicist, Oceanographer, Aerospace Technologist, Rancher, Land Developer and Lecturer
EG&G - Wolf Research & Development, Inc.
My entry into EG&G - Wolf Research: In my role working in the marketing office of TRW in Washington, D. C., I had run into people from EG&G many times, especially in my contacts in the Pentagon. I had even talked to some of their marketing people about my former roommate and the job he had with EG&G in Nevada. I had no idea that the word would get back to my former roommate, Zolin Burson, that I had met some EG&G people. Zolin was working out of the EG&G Las Vegas support office to the Atomic Energy Commission for its operation of the Nevada Test Range where all of the United States nuclear testing was being conducted close to Las Vegas, Nevada. Zolin had graduated from Baylor University with a bachelors degree in physics. He was working in the safety office which monitored the nuclear testing on the Nevada test range. He was well respected for his expertise in nuclear safety, and had traveled all over the world to help out with nuclear facilities in many nations. Whenever an accident occurred that involved any sort of nuclear device whether it be military or civilian, Zolin was called as a consultant.
One day I received a call from Dr. Barney O'Keefe one of the principals of EG&G asking if he could stop by my office in Washington and talk with me the next day. Dr. O'Keefe, after introducing himself and giving me a fairly complete story about EG&G, then proceeded to tell me about one of their companies, Wolf Research and Development, located adjacent to D. C. in Riverdale, Maryland, that had a problem with their leadership. Dr. O'Keefe told me he had checked into my background at NASA and in the military, and that he had also talked to TRW management about my capabilities. He also mentioned to me that they had had a long talk about me with Zolin Burson. They were interested in me becoming the Chief Operating Officer of Wolf Research. He told me that EG&G had purchased the company a few years before that, and that it had been headed up by a retired Navy Captain, who had subsequently become disabled and could not run the company any longer.
I had known about Wolf Research since my days at NASA, where I had met Dr. Bill Wolf who had started the company. Bill and several of his employees had been consultants to us at NASA and had done an excellent job during my stint there. He had sold out to EG&G to start another company, much smaller than Wolf had become. Wolf was now up to 400 physicists and computer scientists and was much larger than what Bill Wolf wanted to run.
I was happy with the job that TRW had given me to do in the Washington, D. C. marketing office. I was not looking for another job! But I had heard a lot about EG&G, and not only from my former roommate, but from my contacts in the undersea world. Years before this I had become friends with Jacque Cousteau who was well known throughout the world for his invention of what he called the Aqualung. Jacque and I had met while I was teaching diving classes in the Los Angeles area. Sometime before that he had become teamed up with an American company that was starting to make diving equipment. This company was called U. S. Divers and they were beginning to market diving equipment in the United States and abroad. They knew that I was at the time putting through as many as 100 students per month through my diving classes, and they wanted to advertise their products by their providing me with equipment that the students would use and then hopefully buy. Through U.S. Divers, Jacque gave me ten full sets of diving equipment, the tanks, regulators, masks, fins, and snorkels, all manufactured by U.S. Divers that were required for diving. Years before all this had come about, Jacque Cousteau had teamed up with one of the founders of EG&G, Dr. Harold Edgerton, who was very famous for having developed specialized high-speed cameras for many applications, including the detonation of nuclear devices. Jacque and Dr. Edgerton had also teamed up and had developed underwater camera equipment to be able to take fantastic photographs in the undersea world. And I was well aware of this effort. While I was still in college I was interested in nuclear physics and had worked during some of my vacations at the Argonne National Laboratories located in the Chicago area. I had heard Dr. Edgerton's name many times and knew that he was very involved in the nuclear operations of this nation. The triggering devices for our nuclear weapons were masterminded by this man. So I wasn't completely ignorant of EG&G's involvement in many of the areas where I had worked, and of course I had known Dr. Bill Wolf while he was running Wolf Research.
The first thing I did after talking to Dr. O'Keefe was to call my former roommate in Nevada and talk to him about EG&G, and to get his opinion of the company in general. I told him what EG&G was offering me and he was elated! He had nothing but very complementary words to say about EG&G, it's technical capabilities, and the great management that the corporation had in their Boston office. He was elated to hear what they had offered me and that I was interested in possibly joining EG&G. I knew Zolin very well; he and I had played on the same basketball team in high school that won the citywide championship for private schools in the greater Chicago area. Zolin was a starting guard and I was a starting forward on that team, and besides that we were roommates in the dormitory at the private prep school we attended in Wheaton, Illinois, about 30 miles west of Chicago.
With the blessings of TRW management, I accepted the offer from EG&G. In late 1969, I moved my office from downtown Washington, D. C. to Riverdale, Maryland adjacent to the University of Maryland campus.
The challenge I faced at Wolf research: I inherited a staff of more than 400 scientists, mostly physicists and computer data analysts. I had quite a few PhDs and MDs among the staff. The Earth Resources Aircraft Program and the data analysis of the subsequent information gathered from the flights was just beginning at Wolf. We had hired a group of people who had worked at NASA in the Earth Resources Satellite Program and were very familiar with the data collection requirements and the requirements for the analysis of that data. Eventually Wolf was to have one of the crew members of the aircraft be a Wolf employee and operate the specialized sensors onboard that would take the photographs of the earth surface with the sensors developed by Wolf. These were to be the same kinds of sensors that would be installed on high-altitude Earth Resource Technology Satellites (ERTS) for doing analysis of phenomena on the earth surface. Later they were to be applied to collection of intelligence data to be used by the military.
NASA contracted the Air Force to operate research missions that were part of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite program (ERTS). NASA chose the WB-57F for its High Altitude Research Program (the "W" for weather). The two WB-57's were then assigned the numbers NASA 926 and NASA 928. The "R" designation RB-57F came about when the aircraft were commissioned to fly research missions.
The NASA 926 and NASA 928 high altitude aircraft can fly day and night with a range of approximately 2500 miles. Two crewmembers in pressurized suits pilot the plane to altitudes in excess of 60,000 feet and the aircraft can carry a payload of about 6,000 pounds.
NASA RB-57F High Altitude Earth Resources Aircraft
EG&G – the company: EG&G was initially known as Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, Inc. but the name was too bulky for most people so it was shortened to EG&G. The company was a major defense contractor during World War II and conducted weapons research and development after the war. It was involved with some of the most highly sensitive weapon systems in use by the United States, including all of our nuclear weapons. Those programs were known in the trade as Department of Defense black projects.
During the 1950s, EG&G was intimately involved in the nuclear testing for the Atomic Energy Commission at its Nevada test site facility. It had offices at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and on the test range itself. In the mid-1950s the company expanded its range of services providing for the military and other government agencies facilities management services, technical services in general, security and even pilot training. It developed quite a variety of sensing, detecting, and imaging products that included night vision equipment that were used to detect nuclear material and chemical and biological weapons agents from high-altitude satellites. They also provided microwave and electronic components to the government, security systems, and systems for electronic warfare and mine countermeasures.
EG&G’s clients included NASA, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and its many organizations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Institutes of Health and a combination of government departments that were involved in the development of earth resources measurement. Specialized photographic equipment and sensors developed for highly sophisticated satellites were also built by the company.
During the 1970s and the 1980s the company diversified by acquisition into the fields of paper making, instrumentation for scientific, Marine, environmental and geophysical users, automotive testing, fans and blowers, frequency control devices and other components used in many industries in the United States and abroad. The company headquarters is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, that had offices at locations throughout the United States and overseas.
It was during these years that EG&G acquired Wolf Research and Development, Incorporated. The acquisition of Wolf and another bioscience company allowed EG&G to become intimately involved in such programs as the National Cancer Program which was part of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland. The acquisition of Wolf also brought in a segment of the earth resources analysis being done by the Federal Government, and that segment included high-altitude precision photography that could be used in spy satellites.
A program at the National Cancer Institute was well underway. There were many other sophisticated scientific support and data analysis programs also underway. I knew I had my hands full in just learning about what we were doing. But I had a willing staff and a very good bunch of people to work with.
Little did I imagine what the next major event would be in my life. In my travels around the Washington DC area and through family and social contacts, I had met a gentleman, Snowden Williams, who happened to be one of the Scientific Advisors to the President of the United States, the President at this time, Richard Nixon. During several social encounters at my home with Snowden, we had some good discussions about his scientific endeavors and what I was involved with at Wolf Research. He was especially interested in our work at the National Cancer Institute, and I didn’t find out until later why his interest piqued in that area.
The National Cancer Program: By this time I had met the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and many of his staff members. I had the opportunity to attend staff meetings and conferences at the NCI that quickly brought me up to speed of what they were doing and what our staff was doing to support their work. The friendship that I developed with the director blossomed into providing him with a lot of consulting on his dealings with Congress and his development of a plan for the future. I had in mind, of course, additional business for Wolf. I thought that we might be able to help them with the development of a research program for the years to come in cancer research.
My friend Snowden Williams found out what I was doing at the NCI and contacted me about the possibility of working with him in President Nixon’s plans for the future to conquer cancer, or at least start the war on cancer while he was still in office. He wanted his scientific advisory staff to come up with a program plan for development of what they were to call the National Cancer Program. And of course they needed someone to write this program plan. Who better, in Snowden’s mind, then to get someone involved that had helped develop a major national program, like what NASA had when they began manned spaceflight. That was me. He thought that I should come back into the civil service and work at the National Cancer Institute to help develop this plan. I did not agree and wanted to do my work from outside the government.
My personal plan was altered by the direct involvement of the President who asked that I reconsider and rejoin the Civil Service and become an assistant to the Director of the NCI!! And to make matters worse for me, EG&G management agreed that this would be a good position for me and for them!
So after less than year at Wolf Research and Development I again found myself changing jobs, not to my liking even a little bit! I would once again take on the mantle of a Civil Servant, but the one consolation was that my starting pay grade was at the top of the Civil Service pay scale. I was soon elevated into the Executive Service level so that my pay could be higher. I promised them no more than four years of my service. In that time I thought we should have a National Cancer Plan written and implemented in the nation. I fully expected that in the very near future we would have a National Cancer Program in operation. I did not realize how large of a task I had taken on at that time.
I should also add here that I told everyone that would listen that I did not know anything about cancer and that all of my experience had been in the aerospace world. No one listened! They wanted someone that could write, someone who had experience in helping to put together a major government program, and that could think on his feet and listen well to make sure that the inputs from the Doctors all over the world that were involved or going to be involved in cancer detection, treatment, or research would all be heard and their ideas fitted into a plan for the conquest of this terrible disease.
My new job title was to be: Assistant to the Director of the National Cancer Institute
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