In Honor of an Electrical Engineer


I often interview and write about notable engineers and scientists, but today I wanted to talk about an electrical engineer (EE) you probably have not heard about. George Wong (Fig. 1) was my father, who recently passed away at age 87. He had six children with my mother, who is still with us. Two turned out to be engineers including my brother, who has a chemical engineering degree, and myself, who is also a EE.

My father was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. He started studying to be an electrical engineer at Beloit College in Wisconsin and was a co-op engineer for a year. This was back when motors, relays, and vacuum tubes were in the curriculum.

Fig. 1After college he became a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He spent time in Korea during the Korean conflict before returning home.

His first job was at Fairbanks Morse designing DC electric motors and generators in Beloit, where he grew up. He then worked for Beloit Corporation for the next 36 years moving us around the U.S. to various Beloit facilities. This included work as an engineer and manager building paper machines (Fig. 2) and injection molding systems. He received three patents for paper machine technology that he helped develop while at Beloit. After he retired from Beloit he worked as a consultant.

You may be using paper that has been made using Beloit machines, although Beloit Corporation went away many years ago.

My father was a hands-on engineer who was also involved with woodworking, metalwork, and electronics. We still have an excellent desk he crafted and a Heathkit receiver/amplifier I helped build.

One reason I became an electrical engineer was due to his help and inspiration. I remember doing various projects, including resurrecting a black-and-white television set by cannibalizing the vacuum tubes from an identical unit. He had already taught me basic electrical work, including wiring sockets and switches. I learned about soldering, desoldering, schematics, and basic electronics. I wound up teaching my children these skills, who are now all engineers. My youngest daughter, who is a mechanical engineer, taught some EEs at the University of Rochester when she was a student there how to use a soldering iron, since they never used one before. I expect her to teach her daughter when she is old enough (she is a newborn at the moment).

Fig. 2

My father helped hundreds of engineers, students, and friends over the years. He was involved in many activities, including Boy Scouts, resulting in three Eagle Scouts (myself and my two brothers).

We would not have cars, buildings, smartphones, or the cloud without millions of engineers. We will probably know only a few of them, but they are all important and do much more than just engineering.

George Wong will be missed, but always remembered.

Discuss this Blog Entry 32

on Dec 31, 2015

I'm deeply sorry for your loss. It is really hurtful to lose a parent. My prayers are with you and your father.

on Apr 8, 2016
on Jan 5, 2016

Sorry for the loss of your Dad. Like you, my father was also an EE. I have a BS EET and work as a field service engineer. After thinking about it some, NONE of my coworkers sons or daughters are engineers! I'm inspired that you have at least three generations of Engineers in your family.

on Jan 5, 2016

Your dad sounded like a great guy. Thanks for telling us about him.

on Sep 28, 2016

I am sorry too

on Jan 5, 2016

My father was a carpenter but he taught me how to pursuit my dream to become an EE. He passed in 2013.

I am sorry for your loss. My sincere condolence.

on Jan 5, 2016

Thanks for the inspiring article. Encouraging young people to pursue an engineering discipline is a challenge your family took on successfully.

on Jan 5, 2016

So sorry to hear of your loss. I too have been a hands on EE for the last 36 years and worked with tube equipment as a teen and a Ham. My colleagues, especially the younger ones, are always intrigued that I know my way around a work bench (they usually rely on a tech) although these days I often need to use a macro scope as well as a very small tipped soldering iron!

on Jan 5, 2016

My father was a master craftsman especially with wood (houses, furniture and boats) and also a master rigger; how many tons does it weigh and how high do you want it. I picked up a lot of knowledge from him. I started with Aero. Engineering, moved through civil and finished in computer networking. As soon as my daughters were old enough to pick up a screwdriver, I taught them how to use it and every other tool in the shop. One is now a professor of Electrical Engineering at BSU. The other is an accountant and entrepreneur. I believe that more children need to be taught the basics of tools. Even my late wife insisted that here be screw drivers and a pair of pliers in the kitchen drawer.

on Jan 5, 2016

Happy New Year and my condolensces. Kind of good and bad rolled into one greeting! My dad started out in college as an EE but switched to chemistry. Later he figured he was doing so much more EE and CS in the lab anyway that he switched again to software engineering after 12 years as a chem prof. I did almost the opposite and started in biochemistry and switched to EE. We did several Heathkits together back in the 1970's, including the touch controller for a lamp and the capacitive discharge ignition system for the car (didn't work out so well!). Now the problem I have with my 2 sons, 10 and 11 years old, is getting them away from the video games long enough to do an experiment. That, and finding time myself to set anything up. Oh well. Great to hear your story!

on Jan 6, 2016

Great story and condolences to your you and your family. I got my BSCET while I was a full time employee, husband, and father of two boys which includes being a baseball coach. I tried to engage my boys in engineering and did my best to demonstrate how I use engineering in my everyday life. Neither one picked it up. Oh well, I have a great relationship with them and I'm the go-to person for anything broken or needing modification. However, I've noticed that Mother Nature is a good teacher and they are learning real fast about working hard and long hours on minimum wage. I think I'll see both advancing their education soon.

on Jan 13, 2016

A couple of my coworkers worked for Beloit Corp. in Beloit, WI. One of them remembers working with your father.

on Feb 4, 2016

He enjoyed working there and had a lot of friends at Beloit. It was an interesting place to work although I decided I wanted to do more with electronics and computers after seeing the more motor and power related work he was involved with. Of course, I got started at the right time back in the 60's and 70's.

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I'm very sorry for your loss. We are all with you.

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William Wong

Bill Wong covers Digital, Embedded, Systems and Software topics at Electronic Design. He writes a number of columns, including Lab Bench and alt.embedded, plus Bill's Workbench hands-on column....
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