EMC Personality Profile

Introducing Dick Ford

As I prepare this Personality Profile, I am tempted to make a New Year’s resolution to select younger candidates in the future. Why younger? So there will not be so much material to cover. Especially if the candidate is as active as Dick Ford, the Personality Profile for this issue.
Dick experienced a fractured childhood. He lived in twelve different homes before his senior year in high school. Despite this instability, he was the first in his extended family to attend and graduate from college. He graduated from Northeastern University where he participated in a five year Electrical Engineering co-op program. During much of his co-op program, he worked full time (fifty weeks/year), often working 2nd or 3rd shifts at the MIT Instrumentation Lab then traveling the three miles to the Northeastern campus at 8:00AM to take a full load of EE classes. He also attended the Northeast School of Broadcasting, a one-year professional level curriculum where he graduated in the top quarter specializing in TV broadcasting and news journalism. In addition, he attended and graduated from a one-year program at the Lee Institute in Real Estate Law, and shortly thereafter passed the state exam to become a licensed real estate broker. He also completed the Army ROTC flight qualification program, a combination classroom and hands-on in-the-cockpit flight program to pre-qualify for an aviation career in the Army.
His military time was spent at the Dugway, Utah Tri-Service Chemical, Biological and Radiological Weapons Orientation Course (CBRWOC). This was a Top Secret one-week orientation course reserved for General Officers (one star and above). The facility was, at that time, the most elaborate classroom in the world. Dick was the head of the Classroom Support Division that ran this facility, as well as an instructor. Some of the most lethal CBR materials were demonstrated live, both in the classroom and in the field by the men under Dick’s command. Dick’s electronics and broadcasting credentials resulted in the Army classifying him in a rare, hi-priority Military Occupational Specialty that preempted his flight career.

Dick during EMI testing aboard aircraft carrier USS Independence, June 1988.

After mustering out of the Army, Dick went to work at the Naval Weapons Lab (NWL), Dahlgren, VA, in the Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO) Division. In June 1967, he was finishing up his training rotation in the air ordnance group when the Forrestal event occurred. Frank Churchill, the NWL senior scientist in air ordnance asked Dick to be his alternate for the two-week formal accident investigation. Frank speculated that the incident was probably a HERO event, and Dick, being from the HERO group, would both benefit from and help assist in the investigation. Dick admits that watching the Forrestal catastrophe from several different camera angles for tens of hours over a two weeks period, cemented his commitment to the EMC discipline. After returning to the HERO group, he led efforts to broaden its technical approach (HERO is not about electronics, it’s about explosives and EEDs), first addressing the interaction between self-destruct ordnance and its controlling electronics. Frustrated by the limited charter for HERO activity, he left Dahlgren in 1968. Two years later, Dick was contacted and invited to return to NWL (by which time the value of the broader charter of EMC had firmly taken root at NWL).
By 1973 he had progressed to journeymen level in the Navy’s EMC field, specializing in Radar EMC issues. Among the Navy radar systems he worked on were, Mk 23 TAS, Mk 86 GFCS, Mk 68 GFCS, and CIWS. He was also lead engineer for radar issues on the FFG-7 Class and the DLGN (DD963 Class) ship programs. In March that year, an engineer that Dick had befriended on the 963 Class program took a high level position in Washington, DC at NAVSHIPS. Dick’s call of congratulation led to meetings and an alliance with four other engineers from three different Navy engineering centers. This work very quickly resulted in the creation of the Navy Shipboard EMC Improvement Program (called SEMCIP). By 1980, SEMCIP grew to be a $20M/year program addressing EMC problems on as many as 100 ships per year. Still in existence, it is considered by many to be one of the most successful Navy on-ship fix it programs. For ten years Dick was the Radar team leader. During the high point of SEMCIP activity, Dick was spending 150 to 160 days a year on ships at sea, evaluating and correcting the Navy radar related EMC problems. He also led efforts to establish the SEMCIP EW team and the below decks Team and, as well, serving as the Associate Program Head of SEMCIP at NAVSHIP (now called NAVSEA) for two years.
In 1983, he was selected to be an OPM Legislative Fellow. This OPM program places middle and senior level federal executives on assignment with a member of Congress. He became Special Assistant for military affairs and technology to US Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. His primary task was to work with the Heritage Foundation on a study of the impact of long development times on the cost and effectiveness of military systems.
After finishing his assignment as an OPM Fellow, he left federal service and joined Don White Consultants (DWCI), which later became Interference Control Technologies (ICT). I was an instructor for DWCI at that time, and although Dick and I had met casually before, it was during Dick’s employment at DWCI that we truly became friends. Dick was one of Don’s instructors, and was technical editor of Don’s new magazine, EMC Technology and Interference Control News (abbreviated as EMCT). During Dick’s two years as editor, circulation of EMCT rose from about 4,000 to over 70,000/issue making it one of the world’s leading magazines on EMC. Dick considers this success one of which he’s most proud. Dick also did EMC consulting work for Atlantic Research, EDMAC/Rosepatch, Singer, and several other companies.
In 1986, two changes occurred in Dick’s life. The Naval Research Lab (NRL) formally invited him to return to government service. He was offered a position in the Radar Division heading up what he soon developed into the Navy’s most elite cadre of EMC expertise. It was a tough career decision for him to make, especially in the salary area. He had nearly decided to decline when Dr. Haislmaier, who was, at the time, the Operational Navy’s lead for EMC (as well as on the IEEE EMCS BoD) personally asked Dick to take the job (giving, as well, some unofficial commitments on future group funding). The primary mission of his group was to provide interaction between the broad disciplines of EMC in a small group process. It was hoped this would lead to some efficiencies in technical approaches to combat the EMI problems plaguing the Fleet (what Admiral Buckley had declared the Navy’s EMI Pandemic). Over the next eighteen months Dick aggressively sought out, personally interviewed and recruited experts in key areas of EMC. By the end of 1988, he had assembled a group of nine senior level engineers and one group facilitator providing coverage in all of the key areas of EMC. The team had over 200 years experience in the fields of EMC.
Over the next few years the group spearheaded several initiatives. They had instrumental roles in what became the NARTE EMC certification process and NIST NVLAP laboratory accreditation process. Four of the team became NVLAP lab assessors. All the engineers became NARTE Certified and most participated in a monthly NAVAIR meeting process in what came to be called NAVAIR EMC Program for Excellence. They actively participated in over thirty EMC committees, including most of our IEEE EMC Society Technical Committees. They filled key roles in both Tri service and Navy multi-platform at-sea testing including the congressionally chartered JEMI test, and the NATO sponsored WESTMED 92. They played a major role in introducing the latest computer modeling tools for EM coupling into the Navy system design approaches. By the time the team was officially disbanded in 1994 (with only three folks remaining) it had produced nearly 70 publications, averaging more than two per man-year. These publications made progress in many aspects of EMC from textbooks to improved specs and standards. Dick both led and played a key role in the group. He developed a special course of instruction for at-sea EMC/EMI corrective actions. He team taught this for the Brazilian, Italian, and Greek Navies and also taught a special course for NATO, hosted by the Dutch Navy.
In the fall of 1994, Dr. Skolnik, the Division SES superintendent, offered Dick a job as Division Staff Consultant. Dick accepted Dr. Skolnik’s offer and his main efforts over the next few years were to support the Navy Advance Multifunction RF Concept Demo. After leading the two-year study phase from 1995 to 1997, Dick retired and is now supporting the program on a part time basis.
In 1986, I approached Dick and asked him to consider running for the IEEE EMC Society BoD. By 1986, Dick had been an IEEE member nearly two decades, had joined and participated in the IEEE R&D policy committee back in 1983 while he worked for Senator Hatch. He was also active in our Society as part of his work supporting the magazine EMCT. He agreed to run and was successful, beginning what turned out to be sixteen years of service to the Society as a BoD member (except for a one year lay-off required by our By Laws term limits rules).
At his first BoD meeting in November 1986, Dick was elected Society Treasurer. During his tenure as Treasurer the Society became one of the first to participate in the IEEE Society Reserve Investment program. He also developed and obtained Society BoD approval for a strict budget guideline process. Between the two of these issues, there was an approximate 100% growth in Society reserves, the largest percentage (as well as dollar) growth in Society financial reserves during the previous thirty years. During his sixteen years on the BoD, he was Society Treasurer for seven years, the Symposium Treasurer for the 2000 International Symposium, liaison to the Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society for six years, head of our Society Survey and Analysis Committee for eight years, and represented our Society on the (now) USAB R&D Policy Committee for over ten years.
Dick has a passion for photography. Fred Nichols, the Society Photographer until his death in 1990, kidded Dick that he was taking more pictures at Society events then he (Fred) as early as 1984. By 1991, Dick was considered the Society photographer by current Newsletter Editor Bob Goldblum. In 2001, a BoD member noted that there was no record of Dick ever being designated the Society Photographer, hence at that meeting the BoD formally voted him the Official Society Photographer a title he hopes that he earned. Dick has since been elected to the Board of Directors of NARTE. At his first meeting he was elected Treasurer.... deja vu! He’s coined a term for this type event. He calls it the newcomer ambush.

Dick with one of his grandchildren.

Dick married his childhood sweetheart Terry at the end of his sophomore year and they had two children by graduation. Between 1975 and 1981, Dick personally built one of the most sophisticated solar homes in the US. Dick, his wife and three children (spanning ages 10 to 19) constructed a four level, all concrete (470 tons with over five miles of imbedded re-bar), ground impounded solar home. It was designed with resource assistance from NWL and Virginia Polytechnic Institute utilizing a modeling program called EMALS. The design incorporated solar panels, ground heating, heating from mulch digestion, as well as passive solar (greenhouse). The home had a calculated thermal time constant of 61 days. By the time it was done, what Dick calls Carter’s folly was well recognized, and Dick had to concede that he had one of the most expensive heating/cooling bills in his State (up to 14% interest on the $30,000+ 1978 dollars that it cost to include the solar features). He considers the solar experience, along with his Army boot camp and one or two other events as great learning experiences that he appreciates having but he would just as soon skip them the next time around. The good news is that he has been promised commercial rates on concrete purchases for the rest of his life, but the bad news is that his wife has threatened violence if she ever has to stand in wet concrete up to her knees again. EMC

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