ï"¿Doug Montgomery: I'm set, I think.
Ren Harman: Okay, well thank you so much for doing this. Today is March the 20...
Ren: Sixth, right.
Doug: I'm not the most interesting person in the world, so this may turn out tobe a big flop, so... [Laughs.]
Ren: Oh, no, not at all. Not at all. So I'll just say, for the sake of therecording, good morning. This is Ren Harman, the project director for VT Stories. Today is March 26, 2018 at about 8:45 a.m. We're in the Holtzman Alumni Center on the campus of Virginia Tech with a very special guest. And if you could just say--this is the only time that I'll prompt you--in a sentence "my name is," when you were born and where you were born.
Doug: My name is Doug Montgomery, and I was born in June, June 5, 1943. I wasborn in Roanoke, Virginia at LewisGale Hospital, and spent some early years in Covington, Virginia. My dad was a pharmacist that owned a drug store there. And then about the time I started grade school we moved to Radford. And so I grew up 1:00in Radford until I started at Tech.
Ren: My dad had some coal mines in Covington, actually.
Doug: Oh, really?
Doug: Well, coal mining, and I seem to remember there's a paper operation there--
Ren: Yeah, paper mill.
Doug: Because my mother always hated the aroma--
Ren: Right, yeah, exactly.
Doug: --from the paper mill. And I don't remember much of that because I was apretty young kid growing up there, but she was really glad to leave Covington and move to Radford because it was a much cleaner place to live, she thought.
Ren: So growing up in Radford, what kind of things did you get into as a child?
Doug: Well, I tell people I largely avoided trouble. Not entirely successfully.But I was an only child, and my dad was a pharmacist, and he was incredibly busy. And then my mother, she did other...she worked some, once I was at the 2:00point that I was, you know, sort of responsible enough to be left alone. I fell in love with two sports growing up, baseball and golf. And I played baseball from the earliest days that I can remember. And I started playing golf when I was maybe seven or eight years old. You know, I discovered that I could hit a golf ball. And so I would go out in our backyard and whack golf balls around. And I played for years. In fact I was on the inaugural golf team at Radford High School. [Laughs.]
Doug: And the guy that coached it was also the coach of the baseball team. Andthe way he formed the golf team was he asked if any of the baseball players knew what a golf club was. And I held up my hand. [Laughs.] 3:00
So that's how I got drafted onto the golf team. And I enjoyed playing. I playedon and off for years here because Tech built a golf course. And I remember the old nine hole golf course over near the duck pond.
Doug: And when I was a graduate student I played on that a lot. And my next doorneighbor in graduate school was a statistics graduate student, a guy named John Cornell, who's quite famous, a famous guy. And John came from Florida. And he had been playing golf about as long as I had, and so John and I played golf a lot. A lot. I mean, more than we should have. In fact, to the point that I think John's wife Natalie ultimately said if you don't quit hanging out with that bum next door and playing golf, I'm going back to Florida. [Laughs.]
Ren: Right. [Laughs.]
Doug: So John got enthusiastic about getting his dissertation finished and got4:00out of there, which sort of motivated me because I didn't have anybody to play golf with anymore. But that was one of the things I fondly remember back growing up in Radford, was playing golf and playing baseball. And I hung out a lot at the library, the municipal library in Radford because Radford was an independent city.
I don't know how much people know about the government structure of the state ofVirginia, but you have counties which have county seats, and then you have independent cities that reside in counties, but they're not part of the county government, and the school system is not part of it, police, it's all independent. And all of these independent municipalities or cities have wonderful libraries. And I could go up there, and I got interested in Civil War history, which, growing up in Virginia, is kind of a natural, really, you know. 5:00
Ren: Right, right, right.
Doug: And I would go up there and read stuff and, you know, sit there for hoursand read stuff about Civil War history. And I just loved it. It was really fascinating. And both my brother and brother-in-law served in World War II. They were Army Air Force pilots. And so as I read more about the Civil War I got interested in World War II history. And so even today I read a lot of World War II history.
And in fact one of the best courses that I took at Virginia Tech--I stillremember this course--it was a course in Western Civilization. And a lot of people were required to take it. I guess they wanted to try to civilize us engineering students. [Laughs.]
Doug: But the guy that taught the course--and sadly, I cannot remember his name.I've wracked my brain trying to think who it was. But he was an absolutely 6:00brilliant lecturer, and he loved World War II history. And so I looked forward to that class more than almost anything else I took as a sophomore engineering student.
Doug: Because he was such an engaging lecturer. And of course it was a hugeclass, you know, and a lot of people said, well, it's a humanities class that you have to take. But I was enthusiastic. I loved it. And that was one of my, you know, sort of happy memories of undergraduate school here. In fact I could probably have been a history major because I liked it so much, but it just didn't...I didn't think that was going to work out, so I did something else.
So I enjoyed Radford. I grew up in Radford. Never wanted to go to schoolanyplace else other than Tech because I knew people that went here. And I liked everything I knew about the place. And I always tell people that it was a major 7:00part of my escape plan. I had to get out of Radford and do something, and coming here was a good step on that path, and I never regretted it.
Ren: So I want to ask you a little bit. So you have a brother. Is it just youand your brother? Do you have any other siblings?
Doug: I have a brother and a sister, and half brother and sister, but both of myparents were married before.
Ren: Oh, okay, gotcha.
Doug: And they were quite a bit older than I am. They were probably 20 years older.
Ren: Oh, wow, okay.
Doug: And so I was sort of a late addition to the family. And I was very closeto my half sister because they didn't live very far away. They lived in Vinton, Virginia, and that was, you know, obviously nearby. But my brother lived in Kingsport, Tennessee. He was an electrical engineering graduate of the 8:00University of Tennessee, and he worked at Tennessee Eastman.
Ren: I was going to say, Eastman, yeah.
Doug: His entire working career. And sadly, both of them have passed on now.They would have been into their mid or late 90s by now. And he and I were not as close because of geography. But my sister Vivian and I were very close. And her kids, my niece and nephew, were closer in age to me, and we always enjoyed visiting each other. And that's how my mom and dad met, actually, is my sister was born in Covington, Virginia.
This is the 1930s. My mother worked for the old C&P Telephone Company. She9:00actually ran the office. I think the office was actually in Clifton Forge, Virginia. She ran the office, and she did switchboard, you know, she did everything. It was a, you know, a one man band type of thing. And my dad ran the drug store.
And, you know, a little known data point is in the 1930s not everybody had aresidential telephone. The number of people that had residential telephones was actually pretty small. And part of that was the technology was expanding, and of course part of it was the Depression. If you had a phone it meant you had disposable income, and there weren't a lot of people with dis...so anyway.
My dad was one of the few people in town that had two phones. He had one at homeand one at work. And he had one at home because people had to be able to find 10:00him. You know, if you needed medication or something you had to round him up and get him to go. So he met her because he would go to the phone company to pay the bill. And so that's how they met. And here I come along in 1943. [Laughs.]
Doug: But, you know, growing up in that era was very interesting, it really was,because the '50s, the late '40s and '50s were a really interesting time. So much was changing. And Tech was really starting to be recognized as a real powerhouse of an educational institution in the '50s.
Ren: So when you first started kind of thinking about college, you said VirginiaTech was pretty much, you know, the only place you really wanted to go?
Doug: Well, yeah, it was the only place I really seriously thought about. My dadwas a graduate of the Medical College of Virginia, and my mother, less so my 11:00father, but my mother had great hopes that I would go to medical school. She wanted me to be a physician. She thought that would be perfect. And I think she had some pride in the fact that I did end up with a Ph.D. But she used to tell people that oh, my son is a doctor, but not the kind that helps people.
Ren: Yeah. [Laughs.]
Doug: And that used to just break me up. I just thought that was so funny. Shestill hadn't given up on the idea that I should have gone to med school. So I thought about that. But I decided that, you know, that engineering was more to my liking. When I was about 15 years old, I bought my first car. I bought a junked, literally, 1953 Ford, and I took it apart and put it back together again, and reconditioned it, and rebuilt stuff.
And that's sort of what got me interested in the basic ideas of engineering. And12:00why go anyplace else? Because here's Tech 20 miles away, and one of the best places around to want to go.
Ren: You said something that I thought was kind of interesting about getting outof Radford.
Ren: Did you see going to Virginia Tech as kind of getting out of Radford alittle bit?
Doug: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Doug: I really did. And I had a couple of friends with me that graduated highschool with me that ended up coming to Tech also. And we all saw it as kind of way to, you know, go get a great education and get away from home, but still be in an area--
Ren: Pretty close, yeah.
Doug: --that we really liked. Because I enjoyed growing up here a lot, I reallydid. I like the outdoors, and I like to hunt, and, you know, I grew up around 13:00guns. My dad was East Tennessee skeet and trap champion five times.
Ren: Oh, wow.
Doug: So he was a...he grew up on a farm.
Ren: Okay, yeah.
Doug: In rural southwestern Virginia.
Ren: What part?
Doug: Down around Wytheville. He grew up down around that area. We had a bigfarm. The family business in the early 1800s was raising horses. They had a big horse farm. And they sold horses to the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and became very rich, but in Confederate dollars. And of course after the Civil War what they had left was the land. [Laughs.]
Ren: Right, yeah.
Doug: And so they sold off a lot of the land and got into the dairy farmbusiness. And so my dad kind of grew up in that area. He was born in 18...I think 1885 or '86.
Ren: So I grew up in Richlands, which is even further southwest Virginia.14:00
Doug: Yes, you're even further down, yeah.
Ren: Yeah, and my wife grew up in Buchanan County in Oakwood, Virginia, which iseven further.
Doug: Yeah, I was going to say, you're so far down in the tip, you know, itwould be hard to see you down there. [Laughs.]
Ren: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Doug: But that's a pretty part of the state.
Ren: Yeah, it is.
Doug: It really is. And we would go down and visit family that still was on thefarm because, I mean, my grandmother was still alive through, oh, the early years of grade school and even early high school.
Doug: She died when she was about 100 years old, roughly.
Doug: I think she was a week short of her 100th birthday. And Dad still had acouple of sisters that lived on the farm, you know, that they had sort of taken over the family business. And so, you know, he had grown up in a rural area, and so, you know, he was a master of the shotgun.
I would go out and try to learn how to skeet shoot, and it was, you know, I was15:00so bad. [Laughs.] Well, compared to him, because he never missed. And I would get about every other one, you know. But our next door neighbor was a police officer, too, and so, you know, I grew up learning how to shot handguns and all the other... And so hunting was something I enjoyed. To me it was more fun tromping around in the woods.
Ren: Yeah, than anything.
Doug: Than anything else. I didn't particularly enjoy shooting anything, buttromping around in the woods was always fun.
Ren: I want to ask you to take me to the day--and I'm sure it was probablybefore you started your freshman year here your first day--but do you remember the first time you saw the campus of Virginia Tech? Do you remember what it looked like, kind of felt like? Any vivid memories of that day?
Doug: I remember visiting here when I was in high school. And I don't rememberthe exact year. But there was some event here, and it might have been a concert 16:00at Burruss Hall or some sort of program, because there used to be a lot of programs that would come through here, and there would be events at Burruss Hall.
And I really believe it was probably a Louis Armstrong concert at Burruss Hallbecause I also was in the music game. I started playing trombone when I was in about the fifth grade. And I was fairly good at it. I played in high school. We had a small jazz group. I did All State band. I played in another band here. I played in The Collegiates for years. And it was probably a Louis Armstrong concert because any time there was any interesting music gig, some of us would try to figure out how to get here for that. So I suspect that that's probably what it was.
And that was probably about the time I was maybe a sophomore in high school, or17:00maybe a freshman in high school, so that would have been, you know, '56 or '57. And I was fascinated with the place because I thought it was just absolutely beautiful and, you know, there seemed to be a lot of fun things going on here that you could get involved with.
And I remember those concerts at Burruss Hall a lot. And even when I was astudent here going to those was fun. If it was an interesting concert I might conceivably be lucky enough to get a date. That was the only way I could do it, was to have some really interesting social event that I could talk somebody into going to.
Ren: Where did you live freshman year?
Doug: Eggleston Hall, mainly. And then at some point I was able to live offcampus because things were growing so fast.
In fact I drove by one of the places that I...where a group of us, we'd all18:00lived together. And then one of the guys was an animal husbandry major, and one of his professors had a house on Turner Street, and he decided to start renting rooms to students. So like four of us, you know, went out there. And drove by. The place is still there. It hasn't been demolished. It looks exactly like it did then.
And I was...mostly I lived downtown, was able to do that, and that worked outreally well. That worked out really well because I made a lot of friendships with, you know, various people that I lived with over the years, and really treasured that a lot.
Ren: Did you have any interest in the corps?19:00
Doug: Yeah, I was there. But it was not a big part of my life, really, because Iwas very much into the engineering program that I was in and had a lot of friends in various engineering programs. And as I said, I played in a band here, The Collegiates, which played big band music. We played big band era music. And we played, gosh, we played country club dances and other university dances at other schools, and high school proms. We did something every weekend. And that was just really enjoyable.
I made a lot of friends through the band, and in fact I played in the band witha guy that I had met because he lived next door to where my sister lived in Vinton, so we had known each other as little kids. And then he ended up doing an undergrad and a master's degree here at Tech, and then he went to Georgia Tech 20:00to get his Ph.D.
And I finished here and taught at Georgia Tech. So he was finishing at GeorgiaTech as I came there, and then he went on to become dean of engineering at West Virginia University and president of Michigan Tech. I mean, he's a success story you should interview. [Laughs.] Yeah, Curtis Tompkins is a success story that you guys should really get to know because he's probably one of the most, you know, accomplished graduates of our IE program here. A great guy.
Ren: Okay, great. So in a lot of these interviews that we do, really the maingoal of VT Stories is learning about mentorship.
Ren: And so I want to ask you during your time here I'm sure you had lots ofprofessors, advisors. Can you talk a little bit how mentorship kind of played into your academic career? 21:00
Doug: Yes. I can start off by telling you the professor that had the mostprofound influence on me early on--and this was when I was a sophomore--I took statics, an engineering mechanics course, from Professor A.A. Papp, Arpad A. Papp. And he was about the most demanding person that you could ever hope to know. I mean, he was a graduate of the Royal Hungarian Military Academy, and he had been in the German Army in World War II. And he was just totally demanding. You did everything his way or else.
I can remember him coming into the classroom with a bunch of our homework allfolded up, and going over to the trash can, and throwing them in the trash can and saying, this is crap. He says none of you people will ever be engineers. I 22:00mean, you know. And then after class you'd go dig your homework out and find out what was going on. And then you'd have to go see him. But when you'd go see him, he was the most patient, understanding person. He could explain, you know. So, you know, he taught you some rigor in how to practice engineering. And I really appreciated that.
And when I got into the IE program, per se, probably the most influential guy inthat program for me was Roger Smith, who's long retired, and I think Roger passed on some years ago. But he was an absolutely gifted teacher. And he knew how to cultivate your interest in whatever you were doing. And I really enjoyed the courses Roger taught. He taught the quality control course in our 23:00department, and he taught a couple of other mathematically oriented courses. But he was just really so good at it. And he had a way of just, you know, finding out what your interests were and cultivating that.
And I took an undergraduate statistics course that was required from Ray Myersin statistics. And that was profoundly influential on me because it was just so interesting. Because Ray had a lot of practice experience, and he was a chemical engineer, undergraduate training. And Ray could bring real practical engineering stories into his classroom. He was a gifted teacher. And it was a class that you always wanted to be there.
Those two guys were just really very influential on me as an undergraduate. And24:00they had an ability--and I don't know exactly how to explain it--but they had an ability to stimulate your interest in the topic, and if they fond that you were really interested in the topic, they would spend time with you. And both of them were just profoundly influential people on me. I truly enjoyed those relationships. And Ray and I are still close friends to this day.
Doug: I visited with him yesterday. And he's been retired quite a few years fromstatistics, but he and I have...we've written a couple of books together. We've written a lot of papers together. And so he's just a fabulous mentor. I still learn stuff from Ray. I mean, you know, to this day he knows so much more than I ever will. And it's just nice to have those connections. And he was a great mentor for me all the way through undergraduate and graduate. 25:00
In fact Roger Smith actually encouraged me to take a statistics elective as anundergrad. He said, you know, you have an interest in this and you're pretty good at it. And he said why don't you take this elective course that Dr. Myers is teaching. And so I did, and it was just a great thing. And, you know, Roger steered me into doing that, and he was the one that encouraged me to do graduate study. He said, you know, you really should do this.
And around the time I was going into graduate school Paul Torgersen became headof IE. He came from...I think he came from Oklahoma State to be head of IE. And he was a fabulous person and a great mentor for all the graduate students in our program because our graduate program wasn't huge in those days. And he was 26:00fabulous. He encouraged you. I was a part-time instructor, and he made sure that he assigned me to teach things that were going to be useful for me, you know, because I had to learn how to teach, of course.
But I had a couple of really good role models. I mean, I had had Myers and I'dhad Roger Smith, who were two of the best ever. And so I kind of learned how to teach from them, or I got ideas about how to do it, and I tried to emulate them as much as I... Obviously I didn't have the experience or the actual, you know, stories to tell, so I struggled with that. But Paul Torgersen was another great influence on me because he put me in things to teach that were engaging, and then I learned. 27:00
I've always said the best way to learn anything is to teach it. And he put me insome courses that really were helpful. Some of them I didn't particularly enjoy. He had me teach a junior level--was it junior? Anyway, it was an upper division course. It was Fortran programming. And you had to teach Fortran programming. You also had to each some numerical methods in the course, and you also had to teach an introduction to computer simulation with Fortran. And so it was a lot of material.
And I don't know that the students really enjoyed it because it was a demandingcourse, it took a lot of time. But it turned out to be very useful because all those programming skills, you know, if I hadn't mastered all of that I'd still be doing my dissertation. [Laughs.] I mean, literally. And so, you know, it's 28:00like he had a knack for putting you into situations that were going to be able to help you.
Ren: So you graduated in 1965 with your bachelor's degree, '67 with yourmaster's degree, and then later your Ph.D. in '69, all in industrial engineering.
Ren: I was talking earlier, out of the 200 plus interviews we've done, probablyone or two that's kind of done the trifecta of the three degrees at Virginia Tech.
Doug: And in those days that was not something that was recommended.
Ren: Right. Yeah, they wanted you to kind of go somewhere else and get different experience.
Doug: Exactly. Exactly.
Ren: Right, yeah. I've heard that, too.
Doug: But you know, our department changed so much between my undergraduate andgraduate experience that it was almost like going someplace else. It really was. It was like going someplace else.
Ren: Somewhere different, yeah.
Doug: Yeah, because when I started, this was mainly an undergraduate teaching institution.
Ren: My phone just talked to me.
Doug: Oops. [Laughs.]29:00
Ren: Sorry about that.
Doug: It's all right. I should have turned mine off, too. Whoops.
Ren: That's all right.
Doug: But it was an undergraduate teaching institution. And then it began toevolve into a graduate program. And we didn't even have a Ph.D. program in IE when I started as a master's student, or was finishing my undergraduate degree. And they were just getting the proposal in to start a Ph.D. program, and it all got approved around the time I was finishing my M.S. degree.
And I was one of the first people in the Ph.D. program. In fact I was the firstgraduate of the Ph.D. program in IE. And my office mate, who was a guy named Bob Taylor from West Virginia University, he was number two. I defended my dissertation in March of '69 and he defended his in either May or June of '69.
Doug: So, you know, it was...you know, the place completely changed. Itcompletely changed.
Ren: During the span between all these degrees--and I'm sure there's hours and30:00hours of favorite memories and stories and experiences.
Doug: [Laughs.] Yeah.
Ren: Are there a couple that really stick out as some of your favorite memoriesor experiences from this time?
Doug: Well, probably the ones that I remember the most were, first of all, as anundergraduate, playing in The Collegiates, the club band which we had, and there were two of them then. I think it was The Southern Colonels and The Collegiates. And it was just a great group of people that played in that band.
And at that time the big social event on campus were the quarterly club dances,the German Club and that sort of thing, and going to those, that was the social 31:00highlight of the quarter, literally. And they always had very famous groups, bands, come to play for these things, I mean, you know, the big names of the '40s and '50s and '60s. So one quarter one of the clubs was having Stan Kenton and his Orchestra play. And we all admired Stan Kenton. We even attempted to play some of his music.
And so the guy that ran our band then said wouldn't it be great if we could meetStan Kenton and maybe buy lunch. And we all thought that was a great idea. So now the trick is how do you meet Stan Kenton? Well, I Blacksburg in those days there were only so many places you could stay, so we started investigating. [Laughs.] And so we started going around to some of the hotels and knocking on 32:00doors. Can you believe this? Crazy college stuff.
So we knock on this door, you know, and the door opened, and it's Stan Kenton.[Laughs.] And so we introduced ourselves and said we'd like to buy you lunch. And we told him we had a band. He said, well, why don't we play? To heck with lunch, let's play. And so we all assembled at Squires Hall, where we used to practice, and Kenton came with three or four of his musicians and a trunk full of music. And so we spent the afternoon at Squires Hall playing Stan Kenton's music with Stan Kenton. And it was just a memorable experience.
And he was rather amazed that we could play some of his stuff. He said you guysare pretty good. And we didn't want to tell him that we'd been ripping off his music for years.
We had a guy that was a graduate of Tech and he had played in this band, and he33:00was a lawyer down in Richmond, and his hobby was arranging music. He was brilliant. He could listen to a recording and write the music. He could copy that arrangement. And so he would send us stuff. And it was almost always perfect. And so we had some of Kenton's, illegally, we had some of his music. [Laughs.] So we didn't tell him that we'd been ripping off his music. We were early thieves of intellectual property, pirates.
Ren: That's what I was thinking, yeah.
Doug: We didn't tell him that. He was kind of impressed that we were capable ofdoing some of this stuff, but that was--
Ren: That's great.
Doug: That was so much fun. And we had so much fun with that band. I mean, wedid just lots of fun and entertaining things. Going to some of the different colleges and schools around here was fun. 34:00
And then as a graduate student probably some of the things I remember that werethe most fun and interesting, we had an annual softball came between statistics and IE. And I played in a few of those, and that was always interesting because we always beat them. [Laughs.] We were better than they were. Well, they had a handicap. They had people that had never played any kind of ball and stick game. And most of us were kids that had grown up playing baseball--
Ren: Playing, right.
Doug: --or something, softball, something, you know, and so we had someexperience on them.
Ren: A leg up, so to speak, right?
Doug: Yeah, we definitely had a leg up on them when it came to that. And Iremember playing the Virginia Tech golf course when it was the old nine hole layout over by the duck pond. I mentioned playing with John Cornell. And I played that course from the time I was in high school until I finished here. And 35:00I loved that golf course. It was very challenging.
And one of the things that made it challenging was all the greens weredifferent. I swear the ag people here must have been experimenting with grass because, you know, this hole the green would putt completely differently than the next one, and I was sure that they were monkeying around with the grass, doing something. And maybe it was just the way they cut them, I don't know. But it used to drive me crazy. I could never figure out how to, you know--
Ren: How to putt, right.
Doug: --what was going. I'd get, I'd sort of get it straight for the firstcouple of holes and then something would, you know.
Doug: But I loved playing that golf course. That was one of the things I alwaysremember here. And then some of the social events on campus, you know, the concerts that they had. Some of the academic visitors that they had here were really interesting people.
There was a guy in my field named Richard Bellman, who's long since deceased,36:00but he was one of the guys that developed one of the basic optimization techniques that we used a lot. In fact I used it in my dissertation research at the outset. It was something called dynamic programming.
And they brought Bellman here for a visit, and I got to meet him and, you know,he gave a seminar and spent some time with us lowly undergraduates. And here's this guy who's a full professor in three departments at Caltech, you know, and has been a professor at Caltech in Berkeley, you know, for years and is one of the most famous guys in the field, and he comes here and spends time with us lowly undergrads. And I loved it. And we had people like that come through all the time. I loved those experiences.
Ren: So the reverse side of that question, difficult experiences. Any hard times37:00that you can remember?
Doug: Well, not personally, but there were some courses that I took here thatwere just very demanding that, you know, you would occasionally say why am I doing this? [Laughs.] And probably one of the most frustrating experiences I had here was when I was finishing my doctorate. In fact I was telling Sally Morton and Julie, the two deans that I met with this morning, about that. And I had done all of the computer programming for my dissertation. It was all in Fortran, which is a, you know, some people think of that as a dinosaur language, but it's still around, so a good one. And I had taught it. So I had this monster computer program. And it involved a lot of random number generation.
And we had a 7040 computer in those days. And as I was within about six months38:00of finishing my dissertation, they scrapped the 7040 and bought a 7090--I'm sorry, they bought a 360. And the difference in the two machines, the 360 is much faster, but it had a 32 bit word length and the other machine had a 36 bit word length and so all the routines for generating these random numbers don't work on the new machine. I had to rewrite all of that.
Ren: Oh, my gosh.
Doug: And you talk about frustrated. I was just beating my head against thewall. I said who the hell thought of this, that doing this in the middle of the academic year, what are they thinking, you know? [Laughs.] And it turns out the other people that were irritated were all the people in physics because all the people doing computations in physics, where they need to compute things out to ten decimal places, they lost numerical accuracy. And so there were physics professors that were in an uproar.
Of course they got a lot more attention than I did. But I remember that as being39:00a very frustrating experience here. And then of course the day the computer center caught on fire. I don't know if that event is recorded in Tech history or not, but when I was here the computer center was in one of the temporary buildings, the wooden structures leftover from World War II down behind the chemistry, you know, the math, and chemistry, physics buildings down there. And that building caught on fire.
And my office was up in Randolph Hall, and somebody came down the hall and theysaid did you guys know the computer center's on fire? Well, all my stuff was down there. And this was when everything was done with cards. And so I had four boxes of IBM cards down there.
Doug: And so I go running down there, and this building's on fire, and there'ssmoke and all this. It's wood.
Ren: Yeah, right.
Doug: And the Blacksburg Fire Department's there, and, you know, the VT police40:00and all this stuff. So I just go charging into the building. And the cops said you can't go in there. I said, stop me. You know? [Laughs.] Because if those cards burn, I am in big trouble. So I came out with the cards, and they weren't wet, and they weren't burned, and so everything was okay. But, you know, I had such a happy time here. I loved the place and almost hated to leave, I really did. It was so much fun.
Ren: Obviously time went on a while, and to kind of talk about once yougraduated Virginia Tech and then kind of where your career went. But I should say now--and correct me if I'm wrong on any of my research here--you're the Regents Professor of Industrial Engineering and ASU Foundation Professor of Engineering at Arizona State University.
Doug: Yes, that's correct.
Ren: Okay. Author of tons of books, 200 papers, all kinds of awesome engineeringwork, and application of linear models, time series analysis and forecasting, 41:00all this wonderful stuff. Which kind of leads me to this question. If you could speak--and I know you're going to talk to some undergraduate and graduate students today--if you could give them some advice that's kind of looking towards you as you did to those professors when you were here, what kind of advice would you instill to these young engineers and other scientists?
Doug: Well, focus on what you're interested in. Follow your interests. Becauseunless you're not...unless you haven't been motivated or inspired or your curiosity has been aroused by something that's in your undergraduate engineering background, you're probably not well suited for engineering. But what you should do is you should follow your...go where your curiosity leads you.
And I was lucky because when I went to Georgia Tech as a faculty member, the guywho was really responsible for a lot of the area that I'm interested in, he 42:00wanted to move on to do some other things, and he said why don't you start teaching--he says I'm bored teaching these courses, I want to do something else. And he says why don't you do that? And so I got an opportunity to follow the curiosity right away.
And that was profoundly useful to me in my career because I was able to go offand do things that were right in line with the things that I was curious about and excited about. I think that's the key, is try to find an opportunity in your work career, whether it's business, or industry, or academics, or whatever. And even if you pursue graduate study, find something that has sparked your curiosity or your interest and pursue that. Because you'll be able to turn that into something that's exciting.
Ren: Right. Thank you.
Doug: And life is too short to do stuff that's not exciting.43:00
Ren: Yeah, absolutely. That's what I tell my wife and children all the time.
Doug: Yeah. Life is too short to do stuff that's not exciting. And the trick isto try to find that opportunity. And you may end up changing jobs once or twice because of that. I mean, I did. I left Tech and went to Georgia Tech, and I was there for a 15 years. And I started to get kind of bored.
And so I went to the University of Washington, and I was a department head. Andboy, that was a mistake. Oh. I refer to my four years at Washington as the mistake by the lake. [Laughs.] Because I learned right away that I should never be allowed to have any sort of administrative responsibility. I was terrible at it. I got used to being yelled at by administrators all the time because I didn't do something that I should have. [Laughs.] So it was an easy decision to 44:00go to ASU. It's been very fabulous years.
Ren: Wonderful. And thank you for being so generous with your time and speakingwith us today.
Doug: Oh, loved it. Thank you.
Ren: I have a few more questions. And these are kind of just like broad kind ofquestions. But if someone just simply says the words Virginia Tech, what's the first thing that you think of?
Doug: What I think about is excellence in engineering education. This is one ofthe best places in the world to learn how to be an engineer, at all levels. I never have any hesitation recommending that anyone come here. And it's not only education, it's the environment. This is a beautiful place to live. It's a great place to get all kinds of experiences away from campus. There's obviously the athletics, which a lot of students like.
But this is an area that's rich in history and there's a lot of cultural45:00experiences that you can have here that, you know, it's hard to find the combination of things that's here. It's a beautiful place to live, it's a fabulous educational institution. There's a lot of history. There's a lot of cultural events. You just don't find that combination everywhere, and that's what makes this place unique to me.
Ren: When you look across the university writ large, what do you see thatinspires you, and then also what do you see that concerns you?
Doug: Well, I am always amazed at what a good job this university has done inmaintaining quality as they've grown, because when I was here there were 5,000 students, and now there's what, thirty? 46:00
Ren: Yeah. Plus.
Doug: Yeah. And so, you know, the number of students has expanded enormously.And the types of programs have expanded in lots of areas. And they're moving into distance education and extension education. And the fact that they've managed that growth and still maintained excellence is something I greatly admire. And we're trying to do the same thing at ASU. We're growing. Our president has a plan for us to have 150,000 students. And we currently have about 90.
Doug: And that doesn't count the online. But he wants us to grow to a total,between online and campus, of about 150. And his vision is, you know, maintain excellence. And it's hard to do. And this place is a perfect example of how to do it because they've had brilliant leadership. Paul Torgersen, brilliant. And the fact that we've had the leadership here to do that is the thing that I 47:00admire so much about this place.
And then what concerns me is what concerns me about a lot of higher education,that is, the financial support from the state. The state of Virginia has treated this place very shabbily, frankly. They should be embarrassed about what they've done. And we're having the same problem in Arizona, by the way. It's not unique.
But I see that as just a disgrace the way the state had treated Virginia Techand the other--I mean, you know, it's, you know, we've had problems, but so has UVA. But I think that is so shabby because education is the thing that's going to make this country continue to succeed. And unless our political leaders wake up and figure that out. [Laughs.] You know, I think that concerns me greatly. 48:00
And it's frustrating. The universities and even the elementary and secondaryschools suffer. And that drives me crazy. I just, you know. Because education is what did it for me. That was the...that's been the key to whatever success I've had. And I was lucky. I had really good education from grade school on. And, you know, the fact that the states don't--
Ren: Support it the way they should.
Doug: --don't support it in the right way, I see that as immensely frustrating,and I think that's a huge challenge for Tech going forward. But it is for all universities.
Ren: I want to ask you about your class ring.
Ren: Good stories? Do you wear it often?
Doug: Yeah, I wear it all the time.49:00
Doug: Yeah, I wear it all the time. I had to have it resized. [Laughs.]
Ren: I need to have mine resized, too, so... [Laughs.]
Doug: That's embarrassing. Yeah, I'm not quite as svelte as I was. So I had tohave it resized. And now it's loose again.
Ren: Oh, okay.
Doug: So, you know, it may be going back for another... [Laughs.]
Ren: Tightening? [Laughs.]
Doug: But that's the other thing that's neat about Tech is the rings are unique.And they maintain that uniqueness. And if you ever lose one or need one repaired, they take care of it. When I needed it resized I didn't really know what to do, so I got in touch with people at the alumni office, and they said, well, send it in and we can fix it. And they did. All I had to do was tell them what to do. And that's another thing. That's part of the history of this place 50:00that's so unique.
Ren: The last couple of questions. And this is a big one. What does VirginiaTech mean to you?
Doug: Well, as I've tried to suggest, it was a big part of my early life. And itprepared me in the perfect way for the kind of career I've had. And not only with the quality of education that I got, but with the people that were here that were role models. I mean, I've tried to learn how to be as good a teacher, and educator, and mentor as Ray Myers and Roger Smith were. Those were two very influential people on me. And there were others. I mean, those were only two. But those are two that I mentioned. Some other very important people in IE were P.M. Ghare, Joe Lindsay, Wolt Fabrycky, and Richard Leavenworth.
This place, to me, is where I grew up and learned how to be, or how to evolve51:00into what I've done. And I probably would never have been able to do it if I hadn't gone to Tech. It's just the unique combination of people, and environment, and academic programs were just the perfect fit.
Ren: Is there anything else that you want to add or anything I didn't ask thatyou thought I might ask? It's kind of just an open-ended question for you.
Doug: No, you've covered a lot of important things. And, you know, I just, youknow, thank you for letting me do this because there's so many things about Tech that I just dearly love. And you can't express them all in a 30 minute conversation, but you've hit a lot of the key things that I really like about Tech and that I remember as being a lot of fun. I mean, I had a great time here. 52:00
I don't think I ever really had an experience that was painful, other than whenthey decided to get the new computer. That was painful. I was yelling and screaming about that for a while until I figured out what to do about it. [Laughs.] But it didn't delay me in getting finished, it just meant I spent a lot of hours, you know, midnight at the computer center. But you know, in those days midnight to 3:00 a.m. at the computer center was sort of like going to Walmart at midnight to 3:00. You meet some really--
Ren: Interesting people?
Doug: --strange and interesting people, you know. [Laughs.] And I remember thatmm, you know, that's... I look back on that and say yeah, some of those people probably go to Walmart at 3:00 in the morning. [Laughs.]
Ren: [Laughs.] That's pretty hilarious.
Doug: Yeah, I remember that well. And in fact I actually met a couple of famous53:00faculty members at the computer center. There was a faculty member--this guy is really an amazing guy. The guy's name was I.J. Good. And he was a professor in statistics. He was the first university distinguished professor, and famous guy. He was one of the code breakers at Bletchley Park, worked with Alan Turing. But a little unusual, eccentric.
Ren: So I've heard.
Doug: Yes. Oh, yeah, you've probably heard stories about I.J. Well, he was mynext door neighbor, John Cornell's, thesis advisor. And John said, you know, he's actually a pretty interesting guy once you get to know him. And he's kind of intimidating because he is super famous. And so I'm down at the computer center one night at like 3:00 a.m. trying to get this bloody thing to work, you know, so that I can get out of here. 54:00
And there's I.J. Good. And he's one of the denizens of the computer center atthree. And he's sitting there looking at a box of cards and a computer printout, just, you know, in the thinker pose. And I said, well, this is maybe my only opportunity.
So I go over and sit down at the same table and I said, Professor Good, youdon't know me, but I know all about your work at Bletchley Park in World War II, you know, because I read history. And he just lit up like somebody had turned on a light bulb, and we sat there and talked for half an hour. And just an engaging man, once you got on his wavelength. And an amazing guy. And a few years ago we went to the Bletchley Park museum outside of London, and there's a lot of I.J. 55:00Good stuff around there.
Ren: That's pretty cool.
Doug: Yeah, he was quite a guy. Quite a guy. There's so many funny stories aboutI.J. Good. [Laughs.]
Ren: Yeah. [Laughs.] Well, again, thank you so much. And I'll just say DougMontgomery, class of '65, '67 and '69, thank you--
Doug: I kept coming till I got it right. [Laughs.]
Ren: There you go. Thank you so much. Nice meeting you, sir.
Doug: Nice to meet you, and thank you again for this opportunity.
Ren: Thank you very much.
Doug: This has been very enjoyable.
Ren: Thank you very much.