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Interview with William B. Bridges

Bridges, William B. (2004) Interview with William B. Bridges. [Oral History]

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An interview in three sessions, in May and June 2001, and an Addendum, March 2004, with William B. Bridges, Carl F. Braun Professor of Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Bridges received his undergraduate and graduate education at the University of California at Berkeley (BS in electrical engineering, 1956; MS, 1957; PhD, 1962). At Berkeley in graduate school, he worked with John Whinnery and Charles K. (Ned) Birdsall on microwave vacuum tubes. He recalls that work and comments on its military applications. He then went to Hughes Research Laboratories (now HRL Laboratories LLC), for which he still is a consultant. Recalls gas laser work in the early 1960s at HRL and Bell Laboratories and the development of the argon-ion laser. In 1977 he joined the Caltech faculty with a joint appointment in electrical engineering and applied physics, while continuing to consult at Hughes. At Caltech he began working on laser isotope separation and later on far-infrared lasers. He discusses his various graduate students in electrical engineering; his colleagues John Pierce, Hardy Martel, Robert Cannon, Roy Gould, and Sverre Eng; his part in developing an undergraduate option in electrical engineering and in building up that department; his work as executive officer for electrical engineering (1978-1981). Recalls his visiting professorship at the University of Göteborg, Sweden, summer 1989; technical advisor and board member of Uniphase Corporation, a fiber-optic-communications company (now JDS Uniphase) in the 1980s and 1990s. Comments on the difficulties faced by women in engineering and his establishment of a chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at Caltech. Discusses his involvement with Caltech's Program in Advanced Technologies in partnership with TRW, Aerojet, General Motors, and GTE. Concludes the interview with his recollections of Caltech President Marvin L. (Murph) Goldberger's attempt to set up a study center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the U.S. Army (the Arroyo Center) and his recollections of Goldberger's successor as president, Thomas E. Everhart, whom Bridges knew from Hughes and Berkeley. The Addendum to the interview concerns Bridges's marriage to Linda J. McManus.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Electrical engineering, applied physics
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Bridges_W
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Bridges, William B. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, May-June 2001, March 2004. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Physics
All Records
Subjects > Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Subjects > Engineering
ID Code:117
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:13 Mar 2006
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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