Retired senior executive for the National Security Agency steeped in research and development experience and now a member of NSA’s Hall of Honor.
Now resides in: Annapolis, MD
Degree and year: Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering
Why I chose my career: I began working with radios when I was nine years old and got my ham license soon after the government lifted restrictions on them after WWII. My parents saw my interest in amateur radio and nurtured it. Several adult operators in my hometown accepted me as a peer and showed me the excitement of talking with radio operators around the world. I hosted visitors to my ham shack regularly to allow them to talk with their church’s missionaries in Brazil. Then when I started at Tech, the radio station KRUS hired me as an engineer. I became chief engineer a year later, installing a system for remote control monitoring. The education I received from Tech, plus the experimentation with radio that has been a part of my life since childhood, has led me down quite an interesting path.
Describing my job with the NSA: From Louisiana Tech’s Air Force ROTC I was assigned to the National Security Agency’s research and development laboratory in Washington, D.C. That assignment offered the most challenging and rewarding possibilities I could have ever imagined. My entire NSA career was spent in research and development, designing, developing, and deploying systems, typically over a 90-day period and in a continuous spiral of ever-increasing technology. I retired as a senior executive in 1986 to start up an East Coast research group for Stanford Telecommunications. I retired a second time after 10 years with STI. Since then I have been available as a consulting engineer as needs arise and serve for the U.S. Senate on the Technical Advisory Group to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
How the NSA is different from public perception: The entire organization is made up of straight-laced, hard-working professionals. We are indoctrinated from day one that in no instance may an American be put under surveillance. If such an accident should happen, it would be quickly corrected.
My favorite part of my job: The satisfaction I gain from knowing that I’m making a difference in the defense of our country. The people I come into contact with are thoughtful, hard-working patriots who hold the best interest of the nation as their highest goal. I get a great deal of enjoyment from identifying a problem, organizing a team, and then working together to design equipment that applies technology to solve a real-world problem. My reward is to see a new system carry out its task.
Some of my best memories of Tech: At Tech, I met a spectacular lady, Freda Grambling, who is still editing my lab reports after 55 years of marriage. She got me interested in sailing, and we’ve spent two-and-a-half years aboard our sloop, “LUV IT,” cruising from the Chesapeake Bay to tropical waters.
My advice to incoming freshmen: Take a summer job doing what you think you may want to do. Be willing to take a menial job, but do it within the environment of the ultimate job you want. Find a field that you can be passionate about. Then going to work will be a pleasure, and you will find happiness more easily. One avenue could be co-oping. NSA and many other organizations have co-op programs in which students work one semester out of every three, getting practical experience that usually leads to permanent employment.