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.
After 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).
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.