EMC Personality Profile

Introducing Robert D. Goldblum

Bob Goldblum is perhaps best known to members of the EMC Society as the editor of the EMC Newsletter for over 30 years. I had the pleasure of working with Bob for a number of years as an Associate Editor of the Newsletter. He is certainly one of our better known personalities and he has made many significant contributions to EMC.
A native of Pennsylvania, Bob spent four years in the Air Force as a radar technician and then attended Penn State on the Korean War G.I. Bill. He received his BSEE in 1961 and his Masters of Engineering, Engineering Science in 1967. While an undergraduate, he met and married his wife, Barbara. Before his final semester, he obtained a job with ARK Electronics, a small RFI test laboratory in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. At the time, there was a high demand for RFI engineers, and upon graduation, all of his job offers were in the RFI field because of his three months of experience with ARK.
His first real paying job, in 1962, was with Sylvania Electronics in Waltham, Massachusetts where he made a grand salary of $7,380/year. At Sylvania, he worked on the BEMEWS phased array radar program, performed RFI studies for early satellite programs, and applied NAG-1 to several programs. It was a real learning experience because there were four major military RFI specifications and an NSA spec to learn, each with unique design and test requirements. The die was cast. Bob was an EMC engineer.
After spending four years away in the service, four years away at school, and three years in the Boston area, Bob yearned to go back home. He took a job as an EMI engineer with AEL located in the suburbs of his hometown of Philadelphia. AEL made ELINT, ELSAC, and other mobile trailer and avionics electronic intelligence and ECM systems. As the only EMI engineer at AEL, some of the technical challenges involved jammers and receivers that shared the same chasses, and the calibration of antennas that were mounted on top of vans or on the bellies of crop dusters. Bob specifically remembers flying with test equipment in a single engine Mooney aircraft to Eglin AFB to fix a radar warning system just installed in F-15’s destined for Vietnam. Republic Aircraft never worried about EMI, so Bob had the video cables from the antennas in the nose to the cockpit display twisted in order to cancel the magnetic field-induced interference. Mu metal foil was also applied because the aircraft’s skin was used as the primary power return. Bob slept on a cot in the hanger for four days until the problems were solved. He had to return home on a commercial airliner, which scared him to death.
While working for AEL, he attended Penn State at night to obtain his Master’s degree. His Master’s thesis was on the design and benefits of zero cross-over switching circuits in reducing transient magnitudes. He also published his first paper on the subject of time domain characteristics of switching transient signatures in a magazine.
After receiving his Master’s degree in 1967, Bob joined the General Electric Valley Forge Space Technology Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where he was the Section Head of the EMC Design Group. Three-axis satellite design was fascinating with its star trackers, 3-axis gimbals, thermo-blankets with floating non-continuous suspended metallic foil, magnetometers, RTG and solar power, and noisy DC/DC converters. In order to save weight, power return wires were not used. There were obviously many new EMC challenges. One of the satellites actually was launched with metal foil wrapped over the cables. Often, the launch facilities tracking radars would upset the squibs while in the pre-launch mode. EMI susceptibility testing in the frequency domain was difficult since the satellite operated sequentially in the time domain. In the mid 60’s, the main problems at NASA were grounding, noise, radiation, and other such design problems. A number of satellite programs were scuttled because of the lack of reliability of their key components. We didn’t have the space shuttle then that could change a key part.
After the cancellation of the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) program around 1970, Bob was forced to lay off his entire staff in Valley Forge, and to transfer to downtown Philly to join GE’s Re-entry Systems Division. It was a distasteful experience and Bob knew that he had to do something other than to work for big engineering companies. While working to bring monkeys back to earth safely, as well as to bring back heat shield nose cones for the Minuteman Program, Bob did consulting work for other GE divisions. He participated in underground nuclear tests in Nevada and designed a double isolated container to test products for particle radiation. Bob also developed an EMC design course for The Center for Professional Advancement and hosted guest lecturers including Don White, Bill Johnson, and others. He also started his publishing business at night (with his boss’s permission).
Bob’s IEEE activities were key to his new vision. In 1968, he was elected chairman of the 1971 IEEE EMC Symposium. As editor of the Newsletter, he received repeated requests to promote commercial material. This demonstrated the need for a publication dedicated to EMI products and services. Moreover, the EMC Society cash reserves were depleted in 1970 by a bankrupt symposium in Anaheim, and the IEEE wanted to merge it with the Vehicular Technology Society. A mainstay publication in EMI would add to the Society’s creditability and viability. Thus, “ITEM – Interference Technology Engineer’s Master” was born in 1971. By 1974, Bob had published four annual issues of ITEM and he had many consulting opportunities that he had to turn down in order to avoid a conflict of interest with GE. He realized that it was time to leave GE.
The world opened up with a flood of consulting requests. He moved his office out of his home into a 400-square foot office complex over a restaurant and hired a few people.
Some of the consulting jobs were fascinating. For instance, the typesetters’ union at the New York Times claimed that its CRT operators were getting cataracts from the CRT displays and a judge wanted to shut down their use in the whole USA. Bob convinced the judge otherwise. Leeds and Northrop thought that its meters were susceptible to handheld radio transmissions, but tests in Bob’s office showed that it was the power supply regulators that could not handle the interference on their output lines. Bob rented more office space in order to line one room with tin foil. This was his first shielded room, which served to test the compatibility between the Coast Guard’s Loran C System and their 41-foot utility boat radars. A mod kit was made for the interfering radar.
In 1978, Bob moved to a 3000-square foot facility and purchased a shielded room from Ray Proof, an FSS-250 System from Electro-Metrics, and amplifiers from Amplifier Research. About that time, FCC Docket 20870 was released and that release brought with it a torrent of testing customers. The 12- to 16-week wait was too long for some companies and bribes were often offered by companies wanting to cut into the testing line. About the same time, Bob hired retired FCC employee, Milt Mobley, to teach courses on the new FCC Rules and Regulations, and he introduced a publication called the FCC News Report together with one called the Electromagnetic News Report (ENR). They are published today by Seven Mountains Scientific (Tom and Jo Chesworth).
Later, when the publishing company, ROBAR Industries, was headed by Len Levin, Bob focused on the engineering company, EMC Science Center. Both companies operated under the trade name of R & B Enterprises.
In 1980, Bob started teaching MIL-STD-461 for NAVELEX, EMC Management for NAVAIR, (China Lake via Las Vegas), and conceived the E3 Newsletter for NAVMAT. These efforts eventually developed into multi-million dollar contracts with the Navy and DoD for training and government support. Over the ensuing years, Bob personally taught thousands of government employees (Program Managers and Engineers, including NATO personnel) various aspects of EMI/EMC. His contract was for teaching up to 60 courses a year. Of course, he had to train his staff to help.
As this expansion was taking place, Bob moved to an 11,000-square foot building in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania in 1983 and soon afterward opened offices near the DoD in Crystal City, Virginia. The commercial side of the testing business continued to grow with the resurgence of RTCA, VDE, CISPR and EU test requirements. Included among the commercial training subjects was a 3-day Praxis, consisting of morning lectures and afternoon hands-on testing in the laboratory. These workshops were held twice a year and were always sold out (limited to 12 students). Bob thought it was important to teach the proper philosophy of testing including the design of a test. People registered a year in advance, and came from around the world to attend. MIL-STD-461 and the Praxis were Bob’s favorite courses.
While operating his engineering business from 1978 though 1999, Bob had many interesting and exciting experiences. He never considered himself a good businessman because he could not give up being personally involved in the technology. Nearly all of his engineering staff in West Conshohocken were hired with little or no experience and were trained by Bob. He also provided personal services to the Government, developed and taught most new courses, wrote and edited articles for ITEM, and negotiated contracts. He was very pleased with his staff, and thought that he had the cream of the crop. He gave up consulting to industry when his staff was ready to take over. Bob could tell a 100 stories about his consulting experiences.
Since the Navy was the custodian of MIL-STD-461, Bob was tasked to develop uniform EMP test methods and procedures for inclusion in MIL-STD-461. Until then, there were as wide a variety of test methods and requirements as there were specifications. Bob worked with Israeli design engineers to develop the requirements and test methods that are used today as lightning requirements. This led to the development of associated test equipment. Bob entered the equipment manufacturing business reluctantly, but needed to do so in order that test equipment could be commercially available in the USA. He also bought an Israeli EMP generator company, Elgal. Later, the entire combined product lines were sold to EMCO in Austin, Texas.
One of Bob’s more notable achievements was the development of the video “EMI – The Silent Threat.” It was so effective in illustrating the threats of EMI that the Government reproduced the preliminary copy and distributed it world wide. Other companies and Governments plagiarized the video. Bob was shocked when he went to Germany on a NATO visit and was shown their HPM video that was made up of 90% of Bob’s video. Because of diplomacy, he couldn’t say anything.
Bob used his connections within the DOD EMC personnel to help connect the Army, Navy and Air Force agencies who had custodianship over MIL-STD-461, 462, and 463. The Navy then called for a meeting of the three and formed the Tri-service Committee to revise MIL-STD-461. Bob sat with the committee as a technical consultant to the Navy and as a representative of industry. He welcomed Herb Mertel with open arms when he took over industry’s interests on the committee. Bob wrote and published several articles in ITEM on what was considered but not included in the standards, the only place where such material was ever published.
At the same time, Bob was a technical consultant to the Navy for SWG-10 NATO meetings. This special NATO working group wrote EMI standards (STANAGs). He also participated in special technical exchange programs with the U. K. Bob felt very fortunate to have been able to visit most of the NATO countries and to have made so many friends in foreign countries. After he started the E3 Newsletter, first for the Navy and then for the DoD, he pushed for a DoD EMC conference, thinking of the old Armour conferences that were held in Chicago in the early 1960’s. Eventually, an annual Navy conference was started and it developed into an annual DoD conference. Bob would always introduce a new course at the end of the conference.
Bob loved to travel, which was contrary to managing his businesses. He was the keynote speaker at the first EMC Conference held in Bangalore, India. He also lectured to the Society of Old Crows in Tokyo, Japan on the effects of EMP. This was a very sensitive task.
One day, Bob realized that his three children, (Joey, Debby and Becky) had grown up – especially when one decided to get married. The stress of staying on top technically, running a business, and caring for a family became a health-threatening burden. So, Bob sold his engineering business in June 1999 to IITRI (now Alion Science and Technology). At the time of the sale, he had contracts at Pax River to run the Navy’s EMP test facility, offices in San Diego, Crystal City, and the laboratory in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
Bob became active in the EMC Society in 1964. In 1967, he became Chairman of the Philly EMC Chapter and also took over the reigns as editor of the EMCS Newsletter from Rex Daniels who had edited it for its first 10 years. Bob didn’t foresee that he would remain editor of the Newsletter for 30 years. The EMC Newsletter today continues in the format created while Bob was editor.
Bob resigned as Editor of the EMC Newsletter in 1997. He thought that 30 years was long enough and he should give others the chance to have the pleasure of editing the Newsletter. Bob has always been an ardent supporter of the IEEE EMC Society, having served as Chairman of the 1971 EMC Symposium, Exhibits Chairman of the Symposium in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and as a member of the Board of Directors from 1981 through 1987. He is an Honorary Life Member of the EMC Society, a Life Member of the IEEE, a Fellow of the IEEE, and has received numerous prestigious awards, such as the Lawrence G. Cumming Award and the Richard R. Stoddart Award. He also received the Philadelphia IEEE Section Award on March 5, 1994 “For the establishment of an International Recognized Center for EMC Technology.”

Barbera and Bob Goldblum

Bob is now semi-retired and spends the winter in sunny Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with his wife Barbara. Both his daughters are married and have provided him with three wonderful grandsons. His son-in-law, Graham Kilshaw, is now running the publishing business, while Bob writes an occasional article and keeps an office there for summer use. He is still active in the dB Society, of which he is one of the original founders, and he attends the IEEE International EMC Symposium every year. He is fully appreciative that so many helped him over the years, and without so many friends, he would never have achieved his dreams of success. A special thanks go out to employees Fin O’Connor, Len Levin, Seth Shapiro, Stan Disson, Steve Caine, Irene Nugent, the Israelis who worked for Bob during their sabbatical leaves, and his mentors from the EMCS of years gone by. There are many more people he would thank, if space were available. But there is always room for him to thank his wife, Barbara. EMC

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