The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Frederick C. Lindvall

Lindvall, Frederick C. (1980) Interview with Frederick C. Lindvall. [Oral History]

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An interview in three sessions, November and December 1978, with Frederick C. Lindvall, professor of engineering, emeritus, in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Lindvall received his BS from the University of Illinois (1924) and his PhD from Caltech (1928). He joined the Caltech faculty in 1930 as an instructor in electrical engineering and served as chairman of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1945 (when it was known as the Division of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics) to 1969, becoming professor emeritus in 1970. He recalls his childhood in Moline, Illinois; first two years of college at UC Southern Branch, in Los Angeles; youthful interest in railway operations; junior and senior years at University of Illinois; graduate work at Caltech with Francis Maxstadt, under Royal W. Sorensen; thesis work on vacuum switch. Comments on professors Smythe, Epstein, Bateman, Zwicky, Tolman, Judy. Origin of Sorensen’s high voltage laboratory and collaboration with Southern California Edison. Works for General Electric before joining Caltech faculty, 1930. Recalls family trip to Europe just before World War I and difficulties getting back to the States. Graduate teaching; recollections of Millikans; campus life in the 1930s; outstanding graduate students. Works on rockets and torpedoes in World War II. Caltech in wartime. Engineering division chairmanship; curriculum revision in the 1950s, new emphasis on applied science. Government support post-Sputnik. Interest in humanities. Work on Freshman Admissions Committee; travels to interview high school prospects. Trips to Soviet Union, Africa, India, to investigate engineering education. Work at Deere & Company and son’s earthquake consulting firm after his retirement.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Engineering, aeronautics.
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Lindvall_F
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Lindvall, Frederick C. Interview by Ann Scheid. Pasadena, California, November 17 and 21, and December 8, 1978. 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 > Engineering
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ID Code:270
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:19 Sep 2018 20:12
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:24

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