The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Howard G. Smits

Smits, Howard G. (1982) Interview with Howard G. Smits. [Oral History]

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An interview in February 1979 with Caltech alumnus Howard G. Smits, former president of the Pacific Iron and Steel Company, who graduated with a BS (1931) and MS (1933) in civil engineering. He discusses the different focus, in Caltech’s early days, of engineers vis-à-vis theoretical scientists. He was a member of the Gnomes, and he reminisces about fraternity life and the disbanding of the fraternities in 1931 in favor of student housing—a move mandated by Caltech’s head, Robert A. Millikan. Comments on Millikan’s motives, the change in atmosphere on campus, and the makeup of the four new student houses. Recalls his part in fostering new traditions and interhouse athletic competitions; extracurricular activities. Economics courses with Horace Gilbert and Philip Fogg; history with William Bennett Munro. Anecdote about Albert Einstein and Beno Gutenberg; bonfires before annual football game with Occidental; visits to Scripps College. Recollections of working with architect Richard Neutra. Course in structural engineering with Romeo Martel. Concludes with comments on his membership in the Caltech Associates.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Civil engineering, Gnomes, student life
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Smits_H
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Smits, Howard G. Interview by Harriett Lyle. Pasadena, California, February 23, 1979. 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:292
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:12 Apr 2021 22:09
Last Modified:21 Apr 2021 17:23

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