November 23, 2016
In 1963 it wasn’t easy getting a job at SBRC. It took persistence and numerous calls to finally convince Bob Hummer, manager of the Systems Group, to hire me. He finally relented after my final call with the comment, “Oh, allright, I’ll hire you.” I was a newly minted engineer with two years previously at JPL and two before that at Bell Labs, but I had a lot to learn about designing and building IR sensors. There are several people who stand out in my memory as having the knowledge and patience to teach me most of what I eventually learned about the process. What stands out for me is that these were “intuitive” engineers. They just had it all stored away in their heads and didn’t need computers. Frank Malinowski was one such person with whom I would frequently get into technical discussions, absolutely sure I was right because I had carefully researched the issue. Most of the time he would patiently show me where I had gotten off the track, illustrating his points with a stub of a 2B pencil. Spence Lee was another “intuitive” electrical engineer who really knew analog electronic design like the back of his hand. I still have a notebook of all his design equations. Spence didn’t need a computer, either.
Both Spence and Frank are gone now, but there are many others who have made my long career at SBRC both enjoyable and productive.