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HomeBio-walter-clark

 

OSSC President (1990-1991)

-Walter Clark-

 

Walter D. Clark was appointed Arrangements Chair by OSSC President Bob Chamberlain in 1983, and was then elected as an OSSC Councilor for 3 years.  He served as Program Chair in 1987-88, followed by Treasurer, Secretary, and finally President in ‘90-’91.

In junior high school, Walt built several model airplanes, a solar powered radio and several hi fi speaker enclosures.  Many of his projects needed the help and advice of Frank Crandel, his dad’s best friend at Northrop.  With the help of Crandel and Jimmy Fassero, (also at Northrop), Walt soon there after polished his first 6” telescope mirror. He built a concrete pier and fork mount for the telescope at his parent's desert cabin. Walt won his High School science fair all four years with: (1) a flying saucer "hovercraft"; (2) a cross-polarizer stress analyzer; (3) a supersonic wind tunnel; and (4) a HeNe Laser.  He hand-polished the Laser optics, blew the glass tube & re-built a refrigerator motor into a vacuum pump to fill the laser tube.

Another big influence for Walt to pursue engineering as a career was his membership in the TRW-sponsored Space Science Explorer Post, where he got to tour a different TRW Science Department every month. Walt spent 2 years at El Camino Jr. College, (near Gardena), and received an AA Degree in Physics. He also worked on lasers as a technician during the summers at TRW.  He loved that work so much that he was perfectly happy to quit college at that point. Going back to school was a great ordeal knowing how much fun work was. He finally got a BS in Physics from UCI in 1971. Walt was hired in 1972 by Chuck Luke into the Northrop Electro Mechanical Division in Anaheim. Initially Walt worked in the photometry lab with his Dad, until his Dad's retirement in 1973. Walt then ran the lab for a couple more years when he got to work on lasers again. He built the laser for an active EO system.  Next, Walt built an instrument to measure the color temperature of warhead fireballs for Sid Zaharias on a weapons project that is still classified even 24 years later.

In 1981, Walt took a voluntary layoff; to work on an invention that he thought would revolutionize amateur astronomy. It was the “Omnitorial” Telescope Mount; a ball and socket very much like the one Isaac Newton invented. But Walt was the first to think of counterbalancing it. Walt saw the error of his ways when he was able to sell only 8. Not 8 telescopes; 8 catalogs at a dollar a piece not counting the ones he sold to relatives. In developing the line of mounts he helped about 10 people make their own "OmniScopes." These ranged from a 6-inch backpack ‘scope balanced on a billiard ball to one of 17-inch aperture pivoted on a bowling ball. He also invented a reflex site with the catchy name “Infinity Finder”. He spent thousands of dollars of his own money learning Code V to design an off-axis convergent beam corrector optical system to go on this mount. Code V showed without building it that the performance of this clever optical system wasn’t good enough. Learning Code V was expensive, but not nearly as expensive as actually tooling up to make them. But the most important influence of this Code V experience was his appreciation of the great power of computers for simulation. After about a year Walt went back to Northrop to eventually do computer programming on video image processing and pattern recognition.  About 1987 Dr. Omar Aboutalib took over the department Walt was working in.

Walt has been a volunteer on the Board of Directors of the Youth Science Center, in Fullerton, California since 1985. He was President from 1987-92.  Walt got involved because he wanted to reduce the emphasis on “The Scientific Method” in grammar schools. The Youth Science Center sponsored district-wide science fairs and Walt changed the rules to emphasize the three types of variables over the backward notion of “hypothesis, test and conclusion.” During this time, (late 80s), Walt held various OSSC offices, including the Presidency in 1990-91.  He became president of the Orange County Astronomers the same year he was president of OSSC and the Youth Science Center. Walt started attending Orange County Astronomy Club meetings about 1980 and joined their board after several years of being their "What's Up speaker”,showcasing the current sky objects to observe.

The year Walt was president of three societies was the same year Northrop merged EMD into Electronics Division and moved those who would go, to Hawthorne and El Segundo.  Walt was a bachelor at the time and could afford to take a few years off. From 1990-1995, Walt went back to college and received a certificate in "Object-Oriented Programming” from Cal-State University in Fullerton. He taught C++ at Hughes and at Cal-State Fullerton. He enjoys teaching and developed a rather novel curriculum based on “just-in-time” learning. He hoped to make a living selling this curriculum but was not successful and went back to Northrop. Because of Walt's earlier experience with laser augmented video, he was hired into Northrop's B-2 Division in 1995 to work on a similar project. Later he worked on LSTAT, a self-contained life-support "stretcher" or "gurney" where he did the software that interfaced the medics to the equipment. After that, Walt worked for the late Vas Kumar on various software support projects, including "Open Skies", which has to do with aerial surveillance. Walt invented and patented a special blurring filter to prevent images from being digitally de-blurred to exceed Treaty resolution limits. He had experience with digitally de-blurring images several years earlier where his job was to design systems to look out through the conformal window of a stealth aircraft. Walt's airplane modeling hobby, which included many flying wings, led to his patenting four flying wing aerodynamic devices.  Walter & Omar share several patents on target recognition algorithms. Walt still works for Omar at Northrop Grumman after all these years, now in the Air Combat Systems Division in El Segundo, California. His coworkers there include long time mentors, OSSC Past Presidents Tom Godfrey and Susan Raffensperger. He is currently evaluating and source selecting vendor electro-optical sensors for several proposed Northrop Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs).

Walt’s current hobby is using airborne air-data sensors he invented earlier for research in asymmetric airplanes. On February 2, 2000 (02-02-02), Walter Clark married Paula Rhys Burke. They live in Fullerton, California.

WalterClark@adelphia.net

or

walter.clark@drs-sts.com