IEEE
You are not logged in, please sign in to edit > Log in / create account  

Oral-History:Anthony Zimbalatti

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 79: Line 79:
 
Yes. It was an accelerated program in engineering school where one got an undergraduate degree in two years. Therefore in that first year I completed the first two years. Then there was some question about being drafted. I decided to enlist in the Navy rather than be drafted – because of a special program for electronic technicians at the time called the “Captain Eddy” Program. I enlisted in the Navy in '45 and ended up going to electronic technician school for the next year. Then I was discharged. I went back to NYU and got my degree in '49. That's essentially how that happened.<br>
 
Yes. It was an accelerated program in engineering school where one got an undergraduate degree in two years. Therefore in that first year I completed the first two years. Then there was some question about being drafted. I decided to enlist in the Navy rather than be drafted – because of a special program for electronic technicians at the time called the “Captain Eddy” Program. I enlisted in the Navy in '45 and ended up going to electronic technician school for the next year. Then I was discharged. I went back to NYU and got my degree in '49. That's essentially how that happened.<br>
  
=== RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) employment ===
+
=== Army Signal Corps Electronics Laboratory<br> ===
 +
 
 +
==== RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) employment ====
 +
 
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
Line 170: Line 173:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
 +
==== History of RFI ====
 
'''Zimbalatti:'''  
 
'''Zimbalatti:'''  
  
Line 192: Line 196:
 
Something so general officers of the line could understand how the enemy could be homing in on them or whatever the issues were.<br>  
 
Something so general officers of the line could understand how the enemy could be homing in on them or whatever the issues were.<br>  
  
<br>
 
  
 +
 +
==== The Korean War and interference suppression work ====
 
'''Zimbalatti:'''  
 
'''Zimbalatti:'''  
  
Line 222: Line 227:
 
Yes.<br>  
 
Yes.<br>  
  
<br>
+
==== Susceptibility concerns ====
 
+
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
Line 308: Line 312:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
 +
=== Transition to employment at Sperry ===
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
Line 416: Line 421:
 
<br>  
 
<br>  
  
 +
=== Transition to employment at Grumman ===
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
 
'''Geselowitz:'''  
  
Line 455: Line 461:
  
 
Right. Then it was different.<br>  
 
Right. Then it was different.<br>  
 +
  
 
'''Zimbalatti:'''  
 
'''Zimbalatti:'''  

Revision as of 17:59, 9 October 2008

Contents

About Anthony Zimbalatti

This interview looks at the thirty-three year career of Anthony Zimbalatti, an electrical engineer who formed an integral part of the formation of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Society. Zimbalatti, the first professional in his family, completed his baccalaureate studies at New York University in Engineering in 1949. In 1945, Zimbalatti enlisted in the Navy’s “Captain Eddy” Program while still a student at New York University. Upon graduating in 1950, he got a job at the Army Signal Corps Electrical Laboratory at Fort Monmouth. Eight years later, Zimbalatti decided to work in the private sector and accepted a job at Sperry; he left two years later for Grumman. In 1957, while still at Sperry, Zimbalatti along with some colleagues petitioned the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) for their own professional group, the Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Society, which would be an affiliation and part of the IRE. At Grumman in 1964, Zimbalatti spearheaded some RFI reforms. First, he proposed the Society change its name to Electromagnetic Compatibility. Second, he suggested to his boss, John O’Neal, to vertically integrate the three airplane groups--design, tests and evaluation--under his supervision. Each group would have a liaison member. Zimbalatti trained more than 60 students during his career. He has worked and supervised the work on over 30 aircrafts and spacecrafts.


About the Interview

ANTHONY ZIMBALATTI, IEEE Senior Member, EMC Society: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center,  3 June 2005


Interview #452 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


Copyright Statement

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 IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.


Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 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:
Anthony Zimbalatti, an oral history conducted in 2005 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


Interview

Interview: Anthony Zimbalatti
Interviewer: Michael Geselowitz
Date: 3 June 2005
Place: Hempstead, New York.

Childhood, educational background

Geselowitz:

This is Michael Geselowitz, the Director of the IEEE History Center. I am in Hempstead, New York, at the home of Anthony Zimbalatti. I am interviewing Tony as part of our project for the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society. Tony, you were kind enough to hand me a fact sheet so I have the basic outline of your career. I would like to start with the question of how a West Virginia boy ended up in New York at NYU and how you got interested in engineering.


Zimbalatti:

My father was a coalminer and coalmines have a finite life. The mining at a particular mine at which he worked was completed, so he was out of a job. My grandmother had moved to New York a year earlier, and he decided to move the family to New York. However he waited until I graduated from high school in July '44. That's how we ended up in New York. However from the time I was in 9th or 10th grade I remember my father saying, "You are going to be an engineer." He kept telling me that, and it was taken for granted by everyone – including the writer of the high school yearbook for the graduating class – that I was going to go to West Virginia University and become an engineer.


Geselowitz:

Was there an engineer in your family?


Zimbalatti:

No. I'm the first professional.

Engineering studies at New York University

Geselowitz:

Then when you got to New York you needed to find an engineering program in New York instead of West Virginia.


Zimbalatti:

Right. Since NYU was across town, it was convenient. The School of Engineering was uptown where the Hall of Fame was located. I didn't know the first thing about applying for college. I just walked in there, and when I did they said, "You haven't graduated with high enough grades," and this and that, "so we don't know if you can get into engineering school." I told them I was somewhat disappointed because I would like to play football. He said, "What?" He made an appointment for me with the coach. I brought in my football clippings and the coach said, "Yes, yes, yes. I'll endorse you." That was how I got approved for NYU. The Dean did not look on it favorably, thinking I was not that good of a student. To make a long story short the coach said, "Play guard." I said, "I can't play guard," so he said, "Well, play fullback" and I played fullback. A couple of plays later he said, "You're on the first team." The Dean wouldn't give me early classes, so I had to cut. He said, "Either you quit football or you're out of school," so I gave up football. And that is how I got into engineering school.


Geselowitz:

Now the war was going on still at this time.


Zimbalatti:

Yes. It was an accelerated program in engineering school where one got an undergraduate degree in two years. Therefore in that first year I completed the first two years. Then there was some question about being drafted. I decided to enlist in the Navy rather than be drafted – because of a special program for electronic technicians at the time called the “Captain Eddy” Program. I enlisted in the Navy in '45 and ended up going to electronic technician school for the next year. Then I was discharged. I went back to NYU and got my degree in '49. That's essentially how that happened.

Army Signal Corps Electronics Laboratory

RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) employment

Geselowitz:

Then you were out on the street and needed a job. What happened next?


Zimbalatti:

Jobs were hard to come by. Disabled veterans could get a job. One ploy I used with Con Edison was I said, "I'll work for nothing just for the experience." They said, "You can't do that." I was too naïve to know what problems that would cause. Nonetheless, no luck. Then my father said, "You always wanted to be a lawyer. Go get an advanced degree in engineering law." At that time I think we were looking at Michigan. Meanwhile someone called me and said, "So-and-so wants to talk to you about a job." I said, "I'm not interested." Long story short, I took the phone call and went to a dinner. This girl said, "I work for the Adjutant at Fort Monmouth and they are going to come out with a request for hiring, so you ought to make plans to come down," and I did. She had an extra room where I could stay, and I went for several interviews. I think the only person interested in me was the EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) person. At that time they called it RFI.


Geselowitz:

Which means radio frequency interference.


Zimbalatti:

Yes. The other interview was power systems. I wasn't too interested and they weren't interested in me. The RFI interviewer could not get his boss to agree that I was the right candidate, and he said, "Stay over an extra day," so I stayed over an extra day. I went for the talks and they made an offer and I ended up at Fort Monmouth.


Geselowitz:

This was the Army Signal Corps Electronics Laboratory. Were you at the area called Camp Evans?


Zimbalatti:

Well, there were three different Signal Corps field laboratories at Ft. Monmouth – Coles, Evans and Charles Wood. I went to Coles.


Geselowitz:

Was that where this radio frequency interference group was situated?


Zimbalatti:

Right. Evans was mainly the radar groups.


Geselowitz:

Right.


Zimbalatti:

The communications laboratory was at Coles—it was called the Camp Coles Signal Laboratory.


Geselowitz:

What kind of work did you do for the Corps there? What were the RFI problems in those days?


Zimbalatti:

They trained us by assigning us to experienced engineers. For example a small supplier of an engine generator set of 1000 watts was located in Wisconsin. Since the technology was very, very young, most companies didn't know what to do. The laboratory would send to the equipment supplier: a RFI Engineer, an army truck with test equipment and suppression supplies. Using this equipment the engineer would test and evaluate compliance to army specification limits, apply suppression modifications, retest to assure compliance. Before leaving for another equipment supplier, the engineer supervised the manufacturers’ drawings and specifications to assure proper production and guidance for government inspectors. In effect we were test and evaluation engineers. We were judge and jury. We'd say, "Your design is not compliant to the specification limits or applicable suppression techniques, you must make these modifications." We'd write up a report and then leave for another job.


Geselowitz:

It sounds like you got to travel to a lot of places.


Zimbalatti:

In one year I think I traveled a hundred days. At one time I estimated that I had done over 600 different evaluations in the period from '50 to '57.


Geselowitz:

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but my feeling is that World War II was the first technology war, and as they started loading all of these different new electronic devices onto ships, planes, army communication vans and armored (combat) vehicles they found them interfering with each other. I think they hadn't thought that through and now they had to step back and say, "How are we going to build devices that are compatible with each other?"


History of RFI

Zimbalatti:

That's interesting. Four or five years later in 1956 my boss, John O’Neil, asked me to give a paper to all the field grade officers. I think it was about 250 Signal Corps officers that were brought into Fort Monmouth for certain training. He wanted me to give a paper on the history of RFI. When I researched it, the earliest investigation I could find was 1917 or 1918. That was when the old Spark Gap radios were installed on armored vehicles. They were mostly concerned with the ignition interference. After that war there wasn't much activity until the early '30s, I think. There were two concerns at that time. They were concerned with these radios, and secondly being detected by the enemy homing in on the RFI signals. They actually issued a training manual (TM) on radio interference in the Army. I have forgotten the year, but I have the book downstairs.


Geselowitz:

Was it a training manual for technicians and engineers?


Zimbalatti:

Just for radio interference. It was a general information TM. Several years later our RFI group issued a training manual and film for use by government inspectors and army depot equipment maintenance personnel.


Geselowitz:

Something so general officers of the line could understand how the enemy could be homing in on them or whatever the issues were.


The Korean War and interference suppression work

Zimbalatti:

Right. There was an Army regulation that made suppression systems on all procurement systems mandatory – but there wasn't much procurement from the records I could find. During the war they established a field office in Detroit and all the armored vehicles that came off the line were tested in screening rooms. They would run them into the room, test and evaluate them and then run them out. Then they had people reworking them. I was told this by the guy who hired me, John O'Neil. They brought girls up from the South that applied components. They were called fixes. I think that essentially closed down after the war and they moved to Coles Lab. The Korean War is why I got hired.


Geselowitz:

That's why the hiring freeze ended, right?


Zimbalatti:

Right. A lot of stuff started interfering. We had to go around and make sure that these small engine generators and anything that had an engine – a motor or electrical device – wouldn't interfere with the communications. In the Army there are huts on the side of the road where guys are trying to communicate and these vehicles going by are radiating noise. That became a problem.


Geselowitz:

You were working on the suppression problem.


Zimbalatti:

Yes.

Susceptibility concerns

Geselowitz:

Were there people working on the hardening problem, making receivers not as susceptible to interference?


Zimbalatti:

Well, that's interesting. Not much attention was going there, but it wouldn't be the function of the RFI group. That would be the function of the communications people.


Geselowitz:

Right.


Zimbalatti:

I can't remember any dialogue with those people.


Geselowitz:

You'd think it would have been useful.


Zimbalatti:

Right.


Geselowitz:

Hindsight.


Zimbalatti:

I am pretty well sure that there were no susceptibility requirements in the Army specs in '45.


Geselowitz:

Interesting.


Zimbalatti:

Susceptibility was not a concern at that time. Later, susceptibility became a huge concern and susceptibility requirements were included in interference specifications.


Geselowitz:

I think there are people in the Electromagnetic Compatibility Society working on both sides of that equation now.


Zimbalatti:

Oh yes.


Geselowitz:

Now in EMP (electromagnetic pulses) there are a lot of issues about susceptibility.


Zimbalatti:

Yes. Once the transition was made. It's hard for me to remember when. In '58 or '59 the specs began to include requirement susceptibility. That's the technical term. It makes it less susceptible, and there was the hardening device.


Transition to employment at Sperry

Geselowitz:

How long were you at the Corps?


Zimbalatti:

From '50 to '58. Then I went to Sperry.


Geselowitz:

How did that come about?


Zimbalatti:

I think that was during Eisenhower administration. There was a time there when they were going through funding problems and there were personnel cuts. One day they would say, "Well, maybe we ought to assign you to Evans" – not me, but me as an example – and "Maybe we ought to train the radar people in vulnerability. We ought to crossbreed them with the interference people."


Geselowitz:

That was when they finally started thinking of doing that?


Zimbalatti:

Yes. I said, "Who needs this?" Then I sat back and said, "I want to broaden my experience, and the way to broaden it is to go out and work for a company" – because I had worked for the military. Don't ask me why, but I had projected that I would work on various types of equipment for various companies and then go to work in Washington. And that way I would have background and experience.


Geselowitz:

You would have been on both sides of the government-vendor relationship.


Zimbalatti:

Yes. Looking through some attendance records of symposiums and so forth, I decided that Sperry was the place to go.


Geselowitz:

Where was Sperry's main headquarters at the time?


Zimbalatti:

Great Neck – which brought me back to New York. Both sides of my family were in New York. My wife was a native New Yorker. When I went to my interview at Sperry I said, "This doesn't sound right. You are sending me down to the combat vehicle group, fire control." They said, "That's what we're interested in – because you know all the people." Let me backtrack. Before I left the Signal Corps I was responsible for electronics, avionics, combat vehicles etc. Another unit of the RFI group had responsibility for the general purpose army equipment, e.g., construction equipment, engine generators.


Geselowitz:

You were a unit leader in this sort of odd unit that did all the odd jobs?


Zimbalatti:

No, there were two unit leaders. One did combat vehicles, avionics and electronic systems.


Geselowitz:

And that was you.


Zimbalatti:

That was myself. The other crew did everything else the Army bought, including motor generators and road graders. Boats were under me. The Army doesn't build ships.


Geselowitz:

They only build boats.


Zimbalatti:

Right. Our unit was concerned with all the technological devices the Army used.


Geselowitz:

You were high up enough that Sperry thought you would know the procurement people?


Zimbalatti:

All the combat vehicle people. They were interested in my knowledge of those people and fire control systems. I told them I wasn't interested in doing that. They said, "Well, that's what we're interested in." To make a long story short, I went to the interview and the interviewer said, "You're not interested in this job, are you?" I gave him a rundown and he said, "All right. Go talk to the other people and then give me a ring before you leave." They were enthusiastic. I called him back and said, "They are going to offer me a job so I am going to turn yours down." He thanked me, and that's how I ended up at Sperry. After I had worked in this group for two or three months I said, "You guys ought to expand the group."


Transition to employment at Grumman

Geselowitz:

Was it an RFI group?


Zimbalatti:

An RFI group, right, but all they did was make measurements and they make recommendations. I said, "We ought to be more active and sell design services." They had talked about that. To make a long story short, they convinced one of the radar groups that they needed a design service. They said, "You have more experience than anybody else, so you take that job." There was a study contract about interference among shipboard radars, which was the next step up, and they said, "We'd like you to run that study. Then I got interested in radar interference aboard ship on one of the ships. The problem there was evaluating the topside interference between systems. There were sixteen radars. After I finished that I was ready to go somewhere else. That was about 1960. I had a decision to make, and that was either to go after the money or to go after technical proficiency. A good friend of mine said, "If you go work for such-and-such a company, I won't talk to you again." He later became the first president of the EMC Society. Harold Schwenk. I told Harold, "You put me in a bind" and Harold said, "Well, if you want my friendship take the Grumman job." It was good advice, and it was a wise decision on my part to take that job at Grumman because I had mentor who had developed the test facilities at Patuxent River Naval Air Training Systems.


Geselowitz:

Oh really?


Zimbalatti:

They have a huge shielded hangar down there to test and evaluate airplanes.


Geselowitz:

And they have the big electromagnetic pulse generator.


Zimbalatti:

Well, they do now.


Geselowitz:

Right. Then it was different.


Zimbalatti:

And he had built the smaller version at Grumman. His name was Anthony (Tony) Dionne. I worked under him.


Geselowitz:

Before we talk about your Grumman experiences and what you accomplished there, I'd like to backtrack for a second. You mentioned the Society forming and the new president. That happened in '57 right around the time you were getting ready to leave the Corps and go to the private sector. Would you say a little bit about your involvement with that? Originally when the professional group formed it was called the Radio Frequency Interference Group.


Zimbalatti:

That is correct.


Geselowitz:

What at the time caused you and your colleagues and peers to petition the IRE, the Institute of Radio Engineers, for your own professional group? There was a professional group on military electronics already. Tell me a little bit about the thinking that went into making this Radio Frequency Interference Society as a separate group.


Zimbalatti:

I don't know. We always had these bull sessions at work. Howard Schwenk, who was the first leader, first president of our Society. They didn't call him president. They called him chairman. And there was Milton (Milt) Kant, who was the boss at Sperry.


Geselowitz:

At Sperry. Okay.


Zimbalatti:

Both of us worked for Milt. I think he had an eight-man group. We said, "Well, why don't we have a group? All the others have professional societies." At that time several engineers in California had gotten together and formed a group. They were not affiliated with anyone. They provided engineering services and advice for free. I can't remember the name of that group. I have forgotten the exact impetus at the time for the meeting but I do recall Milt had several discussions with Rex Daniels, a publisher of an EMI newsletter. The meeting was held at the Wendell Wilkie Freedom Center located behind the NYC Main Public Library. Before we went down to that meeting we decided whether we wanted to have an independent group or affiliate with another group. We talked about the pros and cons. The trouble with not being affiliated was the risk that some large manufacturer might take over the group. We didn't want to be in that position. I think that is what gave us the impetus. I don't remember exactly who said what to whom to get the IRE involved. There was a floor discussion. There was a faction that wanted an independent group almost like the one in California.


Geselowitz:

That was the problem. There was a need felt for an independent group that could give advice and so forth and not be beholden to one manufacturer or another.


Zimbalatti:

That's right.


Geselowitz:

It would be a neutral group as you work for any manufacturer, where you could have meetings, exchange papers and information and advice and all that kind of thing.


Zimbalatti:

Exactly. That was sort of our consensus when we went down there. Given that Sperry had a large contingent at that meeting – I think we had three or four – we carried the day, even though that other manufacturer was there. I don't remember and don't have a roster, but Laurence Gordon (Larry) Cumming from the IRE may have been there. The IEEE Cumming Award is named after him. In any event, we ended up with a vote, and it was carried, that we would affiliate and be part of the IRE.


Geselowitz:

When the group originally formed it was called the Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference. I guess it started in late '57.


Zimbalatti:

Wasn't it Group 27 or something?


Geselowitz:

Yes. They changed the system since the IRE became the IEEE, but yes, it was Group 27. It was also named the Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference.


Zimbalatti:

Right. That is correct.


Geselowitz:

The name wasn't changed to Electromagnetic Compatibility until 1964. Now that we know how the Society formed, let's go back and talk about the work you did at Grumman and how you contributed to the growth of this field. You got to Grumman in 1960?


Zimbalatti:

Right.


Geselowitz:

And Grumman was right here on Long Island?


Zimbalatti:

Yes, in Bethpage, which is only 9 miles east of Great Neck. Well, that was the main plant.


Geselowitz:

You went to work in Anthony Dionne's group, and that was an RFI group?


Zimbalatti:

That was the RFI group. The way Grumman structured it, they had projects—like the E-2 project—in a separate building. They had another project called A-6 in another building. Every time they built a product they established a project. The next step was supplying the project with personnel from the various groups. Therefore if they needed two RFI engineers on E-2, Dionne would decide what two engineers were the best fit for the project. Two RFI engineers would be picked, thermodynamics would pick their engineers, and so forth, and all these people would be sent down to this building to work on E-2. It was the same way for every project. At that time there may have been three or four projects. I think they were building Army aircraft at that time too. They hired me to replace the job shopper on the A-6. I spent a month reading and they said they were going to get rid of job shoppers and, "We're going to put you on E-2." When I asked why I was told that the guy that was on the job had a heart attack. Therefore I ended up on E-2 as the EMC engineer. I had two men assigned to me. Another unique thing is that they only controlled the designers. Let's talk about E-2. It's an aircraft. Are you familiar with the Air Force’s AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System)?


Geselowitz:

Yes.


Zimbalatti:

It was the equivalent of AWACS for the Navy. It's command and control aircraft. Aircraft carriers send four aircraft 300 miles out in each direction. On each point there is an E-2 aircraft and he is detecting another 150 to 200 miles. In effect for about 500 miles out it is able to detect, tell the ships what's happening and can control the airplanes and vector the airplanes to where they have to go to attack the enemy. It's command and control aircraft just like AWACS. The job was to review the vendors' reports, make sure that the airplane was wired and electrically put together correctly. That was essentially the job. About a year into the project, Dionne got sick. He was overworked and under a lot of pressure from the A-6. I was told, "You go over and take his job. Do his job and your job." I said, "Yeah, why not?" and I did that temporarily.


Geselowitz:

Heading the RFI group?


Zimbalatti:

At that time it was the RFI group, right.


Geselowitz:

What year was this?


Zimbalatti:

It was '61 or '62. I think I had been there two years. Dionne argued against it. He was sick but he didn't want to leave. Grumman was getting too big, because we had just won two major contracts – the F-111B and the lunar module. Therefore the staff had to be reorganized. As it turned out, the engineer who was going to run that staff came from the E-2. He said, "I don't want to hear anything. The group head is going to be Tony. I don't want to hear anything about it. He is the only person that I've seen that could handle this kind of work." It was because I had the background. I could deal with the government and with Sperry and what have you, so I became the group head. A year or two years later I said, "This organization is wrong. First of all, we should change the name to EMC."


Geselowitz:

Okay. Right. Do you remember when that was? The Society changed its name in '64. Was it around that time frame?


Zimbalatti:

Yes, it may have been around that time. It could have been.


Geselowitz:

Before you tell me how you reorganized the group, let's talk about how the awareness came to RFI engineers that what they were doing was bigger than just RFI. What other things were happening in the field that helped to bring about that realization?


Zimbalatti:

The original specs did not include susceptibility or vulnerability. Then in the '60s they started adding susceptibility requirements. Everybody started looking at one another at various meetings and said, "Well, this is ridiculous. We've got the wrong name for this group. We do more than just interference." There were various meetings at various places and various proposals.


Geselowitz:

Since this was during the Cold War and the nuclear standoff and all that, do you think EMP was part of the impetus on more attention on susceptibility?


Zimbalatti:

Not at that time. It was too early.


Geselowitz:

People just eventually realized that both sides of the equation need to be considered and that the scope was bigger than just interference.


Zimbalatti:

That's right. The other thing is that it's a positive—compatible is a positive word. RFI is a negative—interference is a negative word.


Geselowitz:

Right.


Zimbalatti:

EMC is a positive. Therefore that was pushed.


Geselowitz:

It sounds positive. Right. Did you go to your boss and say, "I'm going to change the name of the group"?


Zimbalatti:

Yes.


Geselowitz:

How did he respond?


Zimbalatti:

He had no problems with it. At that time the vice president for engineering, Grant Hendrik, had to give a talk. I was a member of the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers, now called SAE International because it includes aerospace and other fields) RFI committee, and a subcommittee on Aerospace Engineering that also covered RFI. He asked me make some notes for his talk. We chatted and I put forth the idea that we had the wrong name for the group. Grant was a member of the National Scientific Board and a true engineer, no question about it. He said, "That's interesting," and that's all he said to me. Then when he gave his talk at the SAE meeting we were having at Grumman, which Grumman hosted, he said, "I would like to say that since we have Tony as our group head we no longer have any RFI problems. In fact we have only EMC." Out of the blue came this lightning bolt. That was Grant. That was the way Grant did things, and so the group became EMC at Grumman.


Geselowitz:

Okay. And then how else did you reorganize it besides the name change?


Zimbalatti:

We were responsible for the design. There was another group in the laboratory that was responsible for tests and a third group 50 miles east at Peconic, our flight test facility, responsible for test and evaluation of the airplane. It was broken up. I said, "This is ridiculous." I prepared a position paper and went to my director. His first reaction was, "I'm against vertical integration." When I asked him why he said, "They will try to bury the problems. Independent groups will give a proper evaluation." I said, "You shouldn't have anybody that's willing to bury a problem working for you. That's ridiculous. If I'm to stay here, I want to reorganize and put all of these groups under me. They can have a liaison member that works for the other departments, but as far as I'm concerned I'm only going to accept responsibility if I have it from design through delivery." And thus we ended with an EMC group. I prepared two IEEE papers related to that topic and one of which covers the management of EMC in a large aerospace company.


Geselowitz:

Was that in the EMC journal or in the Engineering Management journal?


Zimbalatti:

It's not in any journal. It was a symposium paper.


Geselowitz:

You presented these at the EMC symposium?


Zimbalatti:

Not at EMC, but at the general symposium.


Geselowitz:

Oh. This is when the IRE had the general meeting.


Zimbalatti:

Yes. I have forgotten which one it was.


Geselowitz:

Before it got too big to have a general meeting.


Zimbalatti:

I made the unfortunate mistake of committing to two papers at the same symposium. That was a disaster. Anyway, that is how EMC was generated at Grumman.


Geselowitz:

Interesting.


Zimbalatti:

The group had eighteen people. We were growing, and I had authorization to go to seventy-two. However I could never get more than sixty-two. If you have eighteen people how do you grow to sixty-two with just newly minted June graduates to draw from? I solved that problem by using the buddy system. Every engineer had to be responsible for at least one or two new people, and we set up some internal training courses. We grew the group to sixty-two engineers. Over the whole time span that I was there we trained ninety-five EMC engineers. I told some of those engineers that they shouldn't be in engineering at all but should be schoolteachers. Some of these guys ended up principals at various school districts. Some of the other engineers just didn't fit, so I transferred them to other departments. That was one of the functions of the job was to match the engineers' skills with the job.


Geselowitz:

For the rest of the interview I'll not say RFI but EMC. You talk about using the buddy system to bring engineers up to speed. How much EMC was taught in the universities during this period in the '60s?


Zimbalatti:

None at that time.


Geselowitz:

Students were coming with electrical engineering where they had been exposed to power and electromagnetics and electronics.


Zimbalatti:

Straightforward stuff.


Geselowitz:

Straightforward stuff. Then they go to get their first job and come to interview with you. You think, "Okay, this is a bright kid. I could work with this kid," but they knew nothing about EMC. Did you have to start with general principles and say, "This is what we do here"? Did they have no idea what they were going to do until they got there?


Zimbalatti:

Right.


Geselowitz:

Interesting.


Zimbalatti:

I had my own interviewing techniques. There were two straightforward technical questions I always asked everyone. I would draw a simple circuit and said, "Explain what happens when you close this switch, then what happens when you open it and then mathematically derive this." This is because I was interested in two things. First, whether the person could do an analysis of what would be a typical EMI (electromagnetic interference) problem – without calling it EMI. EMI is the interference side.


Geselowitz:

Right.


Zimbalatti:

I looked for whether he could defend his position and how he would go about doing that. The answer was relatively unimportant, though if he got them both right he became a more favorable candidate. The second question I would ask was, "What happens when you open a switch to the light? You walk into a room and you open a switch. Describe the process electrically." What I was looking for more than anything was how tenacious a person would be in defending his ideas. This is because an EMC guy at that time would get walked all over because it was not taught. They would say it was voodoo and all that. If he knew the electrical engineering principle he'd be better able to defend it. That's how I selected my June graduates. Graduates were assigned to group leaders, each of which was responsible for a specific Grumman product, e.g. Lunar Lander, E-2 Aircraft. Each graduate was given the same problem to solve under the leaders supervision. That problem was to predict and measure the spectral output of several pulse generators, and then to documents the findings in a report. Each was given a problem that your father would appreciate since he had prepared a paper related to the problem. (Note: The interviewer’s father, David Geselowitz, was a bioelectrical engineer who had written one key paper in the EMC field.) The purpose of the exercise was to analyze, plan a job, do the engineering and then validate it. In order to validate it one had to get the test equipment, set up the lab and be a technician. A particular problem I gave them was, "Predict what is going to happen when this generator with pulses is put into this receiver. Then show your results." They had six months to accomplish this while doing their regular jobs, so they had to schedule themselves and all that. You'd be surprised how sloppy some people were and how much they didn't know. Some of them didn't even have an engineering notebook and came in with loose-leaf folders. I'd tell them to go to the engineering counter and ask for a notebook and come back with a notebook. Then I'd say, "Now you have an engineering lab notebook."


Geselowitz:

Did you ever get involved with the IEEE Engineering Management Society or a similar group? I ask because you had so much management experience.


Zimbalatti:

Not really.


Geselowitz:

You just worked on your own. What you learned from your mentors is basically how you mentored other engineers?


Zimbalatti:

Right.


Geselowitz:

Did you read any books on management?


Zimbalatti:

I joined the Systems Engineering Society for a couple years, but mine was technical management.


Geselowitz:

Right. During all these years you were the group head, what were some of the projects on which you worked? Were you involved with the lunar lander?


Zimbalatti:

Sure. Well, I had some of my people working on anything that Grumman built, which amounted to approximately 30 aircraft and spacecraft versions over a span of 33 years. Incidentally, the airplane has what is called ground support equipment to check it out and see that it functions. That equipment was integrated also. With the lunar lander I had about seventeen engineers on the vehicle and another eight or so just working the ground support. It was a total of twenty-three.


Geselowitz:

A third of your group was working on the lunar lander.


Zimbalatti:

Yes. Then I had the F-111 fighter aircraft at the same time. Then we worked on the next version of the E-2. We had a satellite project, called the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO-1). We had the Army surveillance airplanes. There were maybe three or four airplanes in production; and we had the ASW (antisubmarine warfare) airplane at that time. Later we built some experimental trains and gunboats.


Geselowitz:

Your group kept busy.


Zimbalatti:

We were busy all the time. In the span of 1962 to about 1987 I think there were over twenty-five different airplanes, a couple of boats or ships, some experimental trains, and two satellites. During that time span over 95 EMC engineers worked in my group which included over 30 college graduates. Engineers were assigned to each product with skills to match the needed work categorized as: system analysis, system fabrication (electrical bonding and wiring separation), systems test, and subsystem design. Engineers moved between products depended on product development stage and needed skills. Thus, engineers evolved into specialists in one or more of the EMC categories and the ones that mastered the most categories became group leaders provided they had leadership abilities. The way I trained the recently graduated engineers was to assign them to the system fabrication effort that addressed wiring separation and electrical bonding. Every wiring that gets placed in an airplane had to be put in a certain position to minimize the interference. We're talking about ten thousand wires on an F-14. We broke in our young engineers where they would have to assign location for this wiring and review thousands of equipment and system structural drawings to assure proper electrical bonding. They would have to go argue with another engineer to resolve conflicting requirements. That way they learned from the bottom up. The same for electrical bonding. There were maybe three thousand drawings in an F-14. The paint has to be scraped and it has to be finished and processed and how to electrically bond these two things together. The June graduates had to see that. That's how you build these guys up. I learned the same way from the first day I went to the Signal Corps. One learns by doing.


Geselowitz:

Were you still active in the EMC Society at this point?


Zimbalatti:

I never left it. I am still in it.


Geselowitz:

In your discussions with the non-Grumman people, with other aerospace contractors and other military contractors, was that pretty much the way EMC teams operated?


Zimbalatti:

Not really. My group was one of the very few that was vertically integrated.


Geselowitz:

Most of them stuck to the old model that your boss had originally preferred?


Zimbalatti:

Most of them talked about it, but their approaches remained different. Boeing was probably the best of the rest. We were more in synchronism with Boeing, though they weren't vertically integrated. These other groups were mostly just constructed of equipment manufacturing. There were only maybe five aircraft manufacturers. And ships, forget about it. That was a disaster. I don't know how it is now. They had to do the same things, but they didn't have the same responsibilities. My approach was different. In fact, when I served on an SAE Committee on EMC I was asked to lead an effort to prepare a wiring separation manual. I declined because my wiring philosophy was different than those used by almost all of the committee members. I said, "We don't agree on the fundamentals," and I refused to write it. I never wrote it because we did it differently. However essentially they all had to do the same thing. I think that beyond delivering a compatible vehicle, what where we excelled was in systems testing and evaluation. I didn't think other aerospace companies did a good enough job. I was very disappointed with them. I think it is still the same way.


Geselowitz:

Has the training of the young engineers changed? Is it possible now that an undergraduate student could take a course in EMC?


Zimbalatti:

I think there are three or four universities that offer EMC courses now. I think the University of Kentucky has one. I have not followed that phase, but at least three schools in the United States and one in England have RFI courses.


Geselowitz:

Thinking about the consumer field and the spread of cell phones and things like that, has EMC spread into non-military areas in a significant way?


Zimbalatti:

Well, let me go back. Once I combined these groups vertically they started pushing more and more responsibility to them. For instance lightning protection for instance became a responsibility, and later protection from EMP and high-powered microwave devices. All of these started becoming part of that group and increasing resources had to be assigned to them. In effect, anything that smelled of compatibility fell under that group, such as man made and natural electromagnetic radiation hazards protection.


Geselowitz:

Would you say that is true in the field as a whole and in the EMC Society that people today are working on anything that basically smells of compatibility?


Zimbalatti:

Yes.


Geselowitz:

There are lightning people, radiation hardening people and EMP people.


Zimbalatti:

Though not necessarily in the same group.


Geselowitz:

Not in the same group at their company, but they all come to the EMC Symposia and give papers to each other and all that?


Zimbalatti:

Right. Yes. Now there would be various sessions on each of these sub-disciplines. Yes, it has matured to that.


Geselowitz:

The field has really grown and matured.


Zimbalatti:

It is in maturity. That's why I find it boring now. There are a lot of reasons I have not been attending the symposia, but one reason is that it is so mature that one can't be provocative or dare question anything. It seems like everything is in lockstep.


Geselowitz:

You have been in it from near the beginning, about fifty years.


Zimbalatti:

Yes.


Geselowitz:

You told me that when you started out it was so new that other people thought it was like voodoo.


Zimbalatti:

Yes.


Geselowitz:

And now it's just another discipline that's in lockstep. That shows the cycle of a new discipline.


Zimbalatti:

I don't think the customer viewed it that way however. I have seen problems since I had gotten into technology development. I had a chance to work on these new EMC technologies, and in the latter part of my career as a principal engineer I was getting my own contracts and talking to high-level people. There is no awareness of the importance of a unified task. Incidentally the next step from Grumman would have been to go back to the government.


Geselowitz:

You had thought from the beginning about ending up in Washington someday.


Zimbalatti:

That's right. There is a group whose name I have forgotten. I think it was called J-6, part of the DMC (Defense Management Council). When I left Grumman, the budgeting of EMC was still not pulled out as separate. The only program I know about where they pulled it out separately was for the Atlas missile. Someone had decreed that a number like 1% of someone's budget had to be EMC. It was required. Therefore they spent the money. Whether or not they got their money's worth is another question.


Geselowitz:

Right. Otherwise it was just a given. In other words a person would say, "Okay, we are going to do this much on testing," and testing would obviously include EMC testing but they wouldn't pull out EMC and say, "We've got to guarantee that a certain portion of the testing is for EMC."


Zimbalatti:

Right. You had to fight for it, and you may not get it. And things would fall by the wayside. For example, before my time, EMC problems had limited the performance of several Grumman aircraft and other manufacturers’ aircraft as well. The E-2A aircraft could not be flown at its operational height, about 25,000 feet because the Doppler radar would not work above several thousand feet. A literature review revealed Doppler radar problems on other Navy and Air Force aircraft. I said, "This is ridiculous." In about a month or month and a half we got the E-2A flying at operational altitude. How could the customer allow something like that?


Geselowitz:

Right. And at a much greater cost than if they had built it into the design originally.


Zimbalatti:

Not only that, but why wasn't the money allowed for that? I solved a problem on E-2 for the LF/ADF (Low Frequency Automatic Direction Finder). The plane could only take off and fly around the Grumman airport before it had to land. I said, "This is ridiculous." But that was the way it was treated when the customer didn't complain or if they thought they could just get by. When push came to shove it's a different story. If the E-2 can't fly 30,000 feet no one is going to buy an E-2.


Geselowitz:

Yet even after several incidents of this retrofitting where you and your team had to go in and save the day after the fact, the customers still by and large had not caught on to the importance of EMC testing. Are you telling me that there are customers today who still view EMC as a luxury?


Zimbalatti:

It depends on what management level was involved and the customer relationship. On one occasion related to the E-2A aircraft procured by the U.S. Navy. I was called into a meeting occurring between the Project Engineer, Ed Dalva, and a navy representative, a Captain. I was asked whether the aircraft rotodome turning caused a beat frequency in the HF communication receiver. My answer was I don’t know. Give me an hour and I will get back to you with the answer within the hour because my test team is now doing testing. I excused myself and returned in about an hour with the answer “yes, the rotodome does generate a beat frequency in the HF receiver.” The captain said it’s about time I got a clear answer to my question. Then the captain turned to Ed and said, "I want this person to be down at Dallas-Ft. Worth to attend a meeting "We're going to review such-and-such." I asked, "What's the purpose of this?" He said, "We want someone at that meeting that will complain about these problems. If anybody gives you a hard time, you are working for the Navy." I asked, "What do you mean I'm working for the Navy?" He said, "You're going down as a Navy representative; not a Grumman representative." That was only a personal thing. I gave briefings to Admirals and others. There was a famous picture on TV. They had picked up one of these astronauts and he was trying to give a talk and all you could hear was the radar. He got annoyed and made a sign that meant, "Kill the radar." After his reassignment that Admiral questioned the electromagnetic interference free operability of the E-2A and requested a briefing by Grumman that was assigned to me. The Admiral asked, “how could you possibly have an E-2 aircraft with a smaller platform than a ship and not experience interference problems particularly with the radar?” I responded that the E-2 interference free and certainly freed of the one he had experienced during his astronaut recovery effort. I said from the get go the E-2 had a EMC effort that employed at times 12 EMC engineers. On shipboard EMC efforts were not necessarily under the direction of a single entity and could be separated into many efforts, e.g. topside radar-to-radar interference control, communication system interference control, and below deck could be subdivided among various contractors. Such an approach to EMC was not viable. I told the admiral of my navy shipboard experiences with the EMC design and test of an advanced Talos radar and the top-side EMC study that I led on the EMC study of the Talos, Terrier, Tartar fire control and shipboard long range search and track radars. Then the admiral said, "What could you do for me?" I said, "If the Grumman company will back me, I'll send engineering teams to your ships. It's just a matter of money and getting the company to authorize this." Of course that never happened for a lot of reasons. Don't get me wrong. I think it's better now. I'm talking '85 or '86.


Geselowitz:

Right.


Zimbalatti:

That's twenty years.


Geselowitz:

Right. Hopefully it's gotten better since then. In '87 you became a principal engineer, right?


Zimbalatti:

Yes, my title was EMC Principal Engineer. That's when I started doing EMC technology development and, flight safety reviews and solving special problems.


Geselowitz:

You did that for a couple of years and then retired in '89.


Zimbalatti:

Right. It was a retirement where they said they were going to hire me back. It was a mistake on my part, and the vice president of engineering told me as much. He said, "What are you worried about? You don't have a time card. You have no assignments. If nobody calls you, you don't have to do anything. All you have to do is go to the flight safety review meetings." That was the job of being principal engineer. However I had so much time on my hands I went and got contracts. He said, "I'm not going to approve it." A month later I kept insisting and retired, but then I came back and worked on special problems.


Geselowitz:

Sort of as a consultant?


Zimbalatti:

Yes, it was all job shopping. They don't to use the word consultant, and I agree with them.


Geselowitz:

That's the term of art. Explain exactly what it means to be a job shopper.


Zimbalatti:

A job shopper is hired by the corporation to complete a documented list of tasks over a period of time at an hourly engineering rate as defined by the corporate EMC Group Leader. For example in one case, “Analyze, evaluate, recommend corrective action and document the Lightning Protection and EMP designs of a surveillance aircraft.” Then I worked those two tasks. That was about a six-month job. The next task was to prepare the EMC part of the proposal for the space station overview the system integration effort. Grumman won that contract for the space station. The overview effort was added to my job shop tasking because I had been the System Integration Group Head for several years prior to my promotion to EMC Principal Engineer.


Geselowitz:

What did the system integration group do versus the EMC group?


Zimbalatti:

The system integration group was responsible for making sure all the elements of the system worked together. The group prepared the electrical interface wiring diagrams and reviewed the interfaces for functional compatibility– that the altimeter could talk to the radar and the radar could talk to the computer for instance. They had to see that all the functional interfaces were compatible. A system integration job is that all the functions are compatible; the system EMC job is to make that there are no ensuing RFI problems as a result of what is being integrated – and all the drawings that are made to show this which are used to troubleshoot the airplane. The reason for assignment to head of system integration was to reorder and improve its functionality because it had become somewhat discombobulated. They wanted someone to coordinate and control it and get it into a tight-knit group. That took me about a year to a year and a half. Part of that group was EMC.


Geselowitz:

Right.


Zimbalatti:

Once that was accomplished they formed a new group called Principal Engineers. The engineering department at that time had maybe four thousand people and there were just three of us Principal Engineers in the whole company. They had to give me a title, and that was Principal Engineer for EMC. If anyone had a problem, regardless of what it was, they would call me on the phone and ask my advice. Essentially it would be electrical problems, because there was a structure guy and I think another guy for thermodynamics. This position was on the staff of the chief engineer. Since I had always been hardnosed about flight safety, I was told to attend all the flight safety reviews. One of the EMC responsibilities was attending safety of flight reviews when they wanted to authorize the flight of such-and-such an airplane. For example I asked my engineer about the situation on a particular aircraft and he said he had never tested a certain fix for the flight control system. In any event, we had this room with a hundred engineers, including the customers, and everything was going lickety-split. Then I said, "I have an objection. No one has validated that the flight control system is compatible with the electrical load that is going to be tested." Everyone's eyes were just going left and right. There was a colonel heading this thing. It was an Air Force contract. Then the Grumman director said, "Let me explain Tony. That's our EMC engineer, blah-blah-blah." I said, "I can't believe it. With this company we can't test this unit on the ground." Then everybody got up and defended why it couldn't be tested. I said, "I still can't believe it." I drove the point home and finally they said, "Go in the next room, work out a plan and come back." And I did, and then said, "Yes, there is a way to test it." A couple or three days later I got a call. I went in and he said, "By the way, you don't have to work for the rest of the year. You've earned your money." I asked why, and he said, "Well, they did your test and the plane caught on fire." He said it was not for the reason that they hadn't tested the flight control, but it was something else they had never tested. As a result of that I became an automatic member of the flight safety group. It was because it's my nature that if I don't understand something I'm not easy to embarrass. I just say, "I don't understand it."


Geselowitz:

That's interesting. I think that's a big part of the EMC approach and what maybe makes EMC engineers different than certain other types of engineers.


Zimbalatti:

If they are not going to be curious or interested and defend their rights they are not going to get anywhere.


Geselowitz:

Right, for the reasons you said. What have you been doing since you retired? Have you been doing any engineering?


Zimbalatti:

No, not after job shopping.


Geselowitz:

When did that end? You became a job shopper in 1989, right?


Zimbalatti:

Does my summary say '95?


Geselowitz:

Yes. 1995. Okay. That was about six years.


Zimbalatti:

Since that time I've been writing letters to newspapers that don't get published. Well, one of them got published. However I have not been able to break The New York Times. What gets me is, I'll write a letter and then I'll see a letter a couple days later very similar to mine that got published.


Geselowitz:

If it's a particularly hot topic, five or six people may write a very similar letter and they just pick one for whatever reason. Before I turn off the tape, is there anything else you would like to say about the EMC field or the Society that you think we didn't cover? I found it fascinating.


Zimbalatti:

Yes, a couple of things. I'm not sure of the time span, but there was a time that we tried to get the automobile manufacturers to pay more attention to ignition noise and the EMI problem. They fought us consistently. However now—with the advent of modern electronics in the automobiles such as braking systems and computer control systems-- they're on the cutting edge. I find that heartening, but it took them a long time. The first problems were ignition noise from cars. Basically that's why we have cable TV – because the FCC wouldn't do anything about it. Cable TV first came out to get away from ignition noise. And of course the Army did a lot. They developed special ignitions and pressure devices.


Geselowitz:

It took a long time to get to the civilian sector.


Zimbalatti:

Right. I think the field is mature and I don't think there are enough guys around to provoke anyone anyway, because today the word is, "Go along to get along."


Geselowitz:

Had there not been people like you making waves the field would not have matured the way it has.


Zimbalatti:

A lot of guys. A lot of manuals we were called on to review, like the NASA manual, we read it and said, "This is ridiculous." The title of the manual was EMC Awareness. We snuck in a room and put a sign up that said EMC Beware. In those days people would get up and challenge other speakers, but today if someone asks a question everybody acts like, "Who is this person?" I don't think I have anything else to add.


Geselowitz:

This has been great. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you for your time.