Heading off to the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology in late August, 1954, I believed that I was doing a public service to the nation. America was in the early stages of the Space Race with the Soviet Union, and my guidance counselor at Dayton, Ohio’s Fairmont High School had convinced many of us graduating seniors that it was a civic duty to become engineers and help advance the nation’s chances of winning that historic race. Little did I know then that beating the Commies in space, and to the moon, would have little to do with my activity at MIT.
My home in South Dayton (now Kettering), Ohio, seemed a long way away from the MIT campus in the fall of 1954. Living in the East Campus quadrangle, I was restless and homesick, and having trouble sleeping nights. This situation led me to take a part-time student job as switchboard operator for East Campus on the late night or graveyard shift, as it was called. If I were going to be up all night anyway, I might as well get paid.