Oral-History:Daniel Hang

About Daniel Hang

Daniel Hang was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 17, 1918. He spent his childhood and early education in Ohio and Florida, before studying pre-engineering at the University of Florida from 1936 to 1939. Hang spent a few years at General Electric in Schenectady, New York working on war projects, such as SONAR. He later attended the University of Illinois where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1941 and 1949, respectively, and began teaching at the university, where he remained until his retirement in 1984. While on the Electrical Engineering faculty, Hang helped develop the nuclear engineering department at the university, especially the master’s degree program, and later held a joint appointment in the Electrical and Nuclear Engineering departments. He held several positions and memberships for various organizations, such as NPRE and AIEE, and co-founded HTH Associates, a company involved in Nuclear Fuel Management.

In this interview, Hang discusses his education and his experience in the workforce. He reflects on his life, his marriage and family life, and his contributions throughout his career, such as his involvement in University of Illinois programs and in the development of HTH Associates.

Daniel Hang passed away on December 15, 2013 at the age of 95.

About the Interview

DANIEL HANG: An Interview conducted by John Vardalas for the IEEE History Center, 16 October 2011.

Interview #570 for the IEEE History Center, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and Daidentification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Daniel Hang, an oral history conducted in 2011 by John Vardalas, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Daniel Hang
INTERVIEWER: John Vardalas
DATE: 16 October 2011
PLACE: Urbana, Illinois

Introduction

Vardalas:

It is now October 16th, 2011. I'm in Champagne Urbana, Illinois. And I have the pleasure of interviewing Daniel F. Hang. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this for us for IEEE.

Hang:

Thank you.

Youth

Vardalas:

We might as well start at the beginning. [laughing] Tell me some general information. Where and when were you born?

Hang:

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, July 17, 1918 at 12:15 a.m.

Vardalas:

[laughter]. Cleveland, Ohio, and you told me that was the largest Hungarian population outside of Hungary.

Hang:

Well it was the second largest Hungarian City in the world at that time.

Vardalas:

And the first--

Hang:

I think.

Vardalas:

And the first one was in Hungary?

Hang:

Yes. Budapest.

Vardalas:

And your parents were Hungarian immigrants then?

Hang:

So for that reason it's not hard to beat. [laughter]

Vardalas:

What are your recollections of your interests in science, math or anything technical?

Hang:

Well, it is very hard to go ahead and answer that because it doesn't happen at any one time. My dad was an attorney in Hungary. His problem was that he liked to gamble and he owed money when he left Hungary.

But he was honest as the day is long. He went back some years later, took a boat load of stuff from Hungarian people in Cleveland area and took it over to Hungary. That paid his way there and back. And then he visited his parents. As a matter of fact, I knew very little about his parents. For some reason or other there was very little known. My mother was from [unintelligible] which a place in Transylvania is.

At that time it was Hungarian. My mother studied in high school. And the language was Romanian. In the playground it was Hungarian. My first language was Hungarian. Why? That's what happens when your kids and your parents talk to you. But it wasn't long that we were teaching our parents. My brother was two years older than I. And we would go ahead and force them to understand English. And hence, we found out that you could speak Hungarian and English and intermix the words. It was very straightforward, which is unusual.

Vardalas:

Your recollections of science. You have recollections in grade school of being, doing things--

Hang:

Well, grade school I started in a Catholic school. Because my dad was Catholic, my mother was Presbyterian. And living in Cleveland we were on the West side. And that was towards Lorain, Ohio, which also had a lot of Hungarians because of the steel company that was there. We were supposed to go church and if our parents took us to the East side, which was the Hungarian side, we went to church there. In the meantime, my dad went with the priest to a funeral home and they played cards there. So when we'd go ahead and get back on Monday, where were you? You weren't in church. Yes, I was. No, you weren't. Your pew was empty. [laughter] This is the way it went.

Vardalas:

So your grade school was in what city? Your grade school, Cleveland.

Hang:

No, for the part of the first grade. And then we went to Florida and that's when my dad went on off to Europe.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And went down. I had my aunt and my grandmother on my mother's side, with her five children were in Florida. This was in Palm City, which was just open air, open country. Snakes, all kinds of wild creatures and what not, palmettos. And so I went three grades there.

Vardalas:

Three grades. Do you remember, at least in those grades, were you fascinated by things in science? Astronomy, was there anything that fascinated you?

Hang:

I went ahead and had no trouble going to school there.

Vardalas:

Uh hmm.

Hang:

What I found out, when I went back to Cleveland and started in fourth grade, that I wasn't doing quite so well there later. But when I was in Stewart, Florida, that's what the school was where I went. I then would get 100 on a spelling test. The next week I didn't have to take it. I would leave the room and we had single rooms outside for classrooms. One for each grade. And if you had to go somewhere else, you got into the rain.

What would happen? I would go outside. I didn't have to take the exam. I'd have marbles. Nobody to play with. I had jacks. - - the girls weren't there. The next week I'd miss a word. And the teacher would say, Daniel you knew that. I know I did but I didn't want to go outside into the hot area. [laughter]

Vardalas:

There was a reward for you for doing well but it wasn't really a reward.

Hang:

That's true. And I understood that right away. But then when I went to Cleveland I took 4B and then went to 4A. I went to the classroom that they told me to go to. I was supposed to fail. I didn't know why. But I was supposed to fail. And I was in 4A. And three weeks before 4A was over they sent me back to 4B. And of course, of course I was a crying kid that went back.

Hang:

My math teacher kept teaching me 4A when everybody else he was teaching 4B to. Because he knew, I caught up. It was just the fact that somehow or other they sent me back. So I was back a half year from what I should be. At that time I said, I'm going to graduate high school at the right time.

Vardalas:

Okay. And did you go to high school in Florida too? Oh, Cleveland.

Hang:

Well, I went back to Cleveland then for part of fourth and fifth. Part of the fifth grade I had in the East side of Cleveland.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And then the sixth, 5A and 6B I was in Lorain, Ohio, which is 26 miles to the West of Cleveland. And that's when my brother and I would go ahead and deliver circulars all over the city. Why? Because we were poor and we were planning for an erector set for Christmas. We gave our money to my mother so we'd have a Christmas present. I got an electric motor and the set.

Vardalas:

Oh, tell me about that. What do you remember about it?

Hang:

Well, my brother, who was older by two years, he would bend the girders to fit whatever he wanted. I figured out how to do it without bending anything. [laughter] That might have been the business of being able to work with your hands. And we had that and Tinker Toys. And then we would build things that we could carve out of wood. Then set it up. There were two guys whacking on a hammer. We'd move it back and forth. Something we saw, and we would work away on it.

Vardalas:

Oh, this all building with your hands, working with--

Hang:

Yeah. And then when I got to back Cleveland, on the 6A and 7, 7B, why that was on the East side. And it was close to Euclid. We had roller skates. That was fine, but then we’d go ahead and take a two by four, put the back end of the wheels on the back and the front. And then put a box on it and we'd haul stuff in. And other fellas and I would go ten, 15 miles away. And we would build these boxes and so forth. And ride in the street or on a sidewalk. On areas that were empty because they were going to put homes there. That was areas of that sort. And that was in the fourth grade that I went ahead and started selling newspapers, the Cleveland Press.

Vardalas:

In the fourth grade?

Hang:

In the fourth grade, ten years old, and when there would be a boxing match or something at night we would sell the Blue Streak edition. Well, we got a cent on three. If we brought in $.09 we'd get a cent out of it.

Vardalas:

Let me see if I can piece this together. You started in Cleveland for the first few years of grade school. Then you went to Florida for two or three years of grade school. Then you came back to….

Hang:

Cleveland.

Vardalas:

Cleveland. And did you go onto high school in Cleveland? Or did you go back to Florida?

Hang:

Well, part of the grade we got. I had 7B in Florida, in Cleveland. And part of 7A. Then we went to Florida and I started going to school in Miami Beach because that's where my dad was going to be working. He ended up as an attorney in Europe, but what sort of jobs did he have otherwise? When we were in Florida he was selling lots, because that was the big boom time.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And he was selling stuff in Stuart, Florida. He would put $10 down for a lot himself. If he sold it right, a couple of weeks later, he'd make a few dollars on it. But he put most of his money in it. Then came 1926, hurricane, a couple of them. And the boom down there closed. He was owing money on, because he was paying $10 down and $10 a month and whatnot for lots. So he lost all that money. Then we were back in Cleveland. Then he sold insurance.

Vardalas:

Where was your high school years spent?

Hang:

High school was in Miami Beach.

Vardalas:

Miami Beach. And do you recall--

Hang:

And there I liked several of the teachers that I had.

Vardalas:

Which ones did you like?

Hang:

The wife and the husband. The husband taught physics. The wife taught mathematics.

Vardalas:

Oh. And what was it you liked? Did you like the subject? What about them did you like?

Hang:

Well, I liked the physics and I took chemistry. And I liked the chemistry and the physics and the math. And then I applied for a scholarship. And that's the one I got from Cornell. Cornell was charging, at that time, $400. My scholarship was $200. By that time I already had a paper route on Miami Beach, Florida. First started with the Miami Daily News, which was in the afternoon. But that didn't let me do anything like sports.

I ended up easily getting a paper route from Miami Herald. Why? I was so good at getting subscriptions that they wanted me there. I ended up getting the same paper route with the Miami Herald. And I went around and got my customers back on the morning paper.

Vardalas:

Why were so effective getting subscriptions?

Hang:

To get a subscription you never asked a question. Because the question can be answered as no. I'd come up to a house or apartment and when the door was answered I'd say “I'm Daniel Hang. I'm the Miami Herald carrier. I'd like to have you be one of my subscribers. And the woman would say no. Ma'am, I'd like to have you be one of my subscribers. Next thing you know I'm signing them up.” [laughter] Because I knew what was in the paper and what they wanted. And I would come around every week collecting $.20, $.25 and I was making $.07 a customer.

Vardalas:

You told over the phone that you had done quite well at selling newspapers. And you were--

Hang:

Oh yes.

Vardalas:

You were rewarded for this.

Hang:

Well, I had a paper route. You had a bag made out of dowels, three-eighths inch dowels. And they were stuck into the top rim and the bottom and you fixed it up to where you could put in it on the swivel--

Vardalas:

Handlebars.

Hang:

On the handlebars.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

And then you bent a quarter-inch bolt around the thing. And you could tighten it up. And then you went ahead and put canvas around it, because you had to get rid of the rain. And then you would go ahead and take with you in the mornings. And I would get up as early as 3:00 in the morning.

And when I was going to the University of Miami, my physics prof from high school came over. He says, what did you think of my high school math, physics? Well, I says, I'm going here. I'm sleeping through half my class and I'm getting a B. He said, well I feel pretty good about it because you slept through half my class. [laughter] But I'd close my eyes and I studied because I closed my eyes and I'd listen. And that was a half sleep. If I was asked a question I heard it. I could always answer it.

Education at University of Miami

Vardalas:

Before we go into the courses you took at university, you couldn't go to Cornell because you couldn't afford it, right. Because the scholarship didn't pay--

Hang:

My brother was already going to University of Florida, up in Gainesville.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

I was giving my mother $30 a month to send to him. I didn't give any money to my dad except once in a while I'd hand him $2. I knew what he was going to do with it. He would to go bet it on the horses. If I never heard from him, that was it. I lost. He lost. Once in a while he'd come up. He'd have $10.20. Well, he made $5.20 or $5.10 on each dollar. So for the $2 I'd get $10.20 back. And he was, as I said, honest as the day was long. Now, he started school in Hungary taking civil engineering. After one year he talked to his dad. He says I'd like to be a lawyer like you and my grandfather. And also that also comes back to the change in name that I have. H-A-N-G and is pronounced Hung in Hungarian, which means sound or tone.

There also millions of people or so in China with the same name. From then on, even here at the university, I would be put in with Chinese people if we went somewhere and we roomed together.

Vardalas:

Let's go back. What made you decide to go to university in Florida?

Hang:

I was a good paper carrier. They had a contest in 1935 to go to New York City. I was number one in the group. I had 350 news subscriptions in a matter of 12 weeks. The next year it was to go to Cuba.

Vardalas:

Cuba?

Hang:

Yes. And we went down by plane, by train, overnight by a boat and then stayed there. My mother had a woman friend who was a governess for a Cuban family. The husband had a wife who died early. And he was 39 when he retired. When I went to Cuba I had a letter from this woman. And I took a friend of mine. Again, I was number one in the group. And so my mother goes down to the Miami Herald. She says, “you got the best carrier here who’s won two trips. What can you do in supporting him in college?” I was already, as I said, sending money for two years to my brother. And they said, well, they couldn't do it because that would be a precedent they couldn't keep up.

But could I be interested in going to the University of Miami? I said, “where is it?” [laughter] It was only ten years old. It was half the size of Miami High School, which had 3,000 students. There were only 1,500 students there. I said, fine. They said, well, when I got there, they said, we can't pay you for your functions to see the plays and all of the sports events.

Vardalas:

Well the extracurricular activities.

Hang:

Yeah. That's going to cost you $15 a semester. And I said, fine. That way I could still have a paper route. And one day in class, I was always sat in the front row. And my physics prof would teach. I loved him. He was very good. And he was another one that I enjoyed. And then the chemistry one there. But Miami Herald said if there's a scholarship at the University of Florida that you want we'll get it for you. And they didn't have anything in electrical engineering. That's what I always wanted. And I cannot tell you today.

Vardalas:

You don't know why you wanted electrical engineering?

Hang:

No. But I went to one place in Cleveland. I set out an aerial with a little crystal and earphone and whatnot and would get the radio.

Vardalas:

Oh, so you set that up yourself.

Hang:

Yes. But I didn't go into electronics. I went into power and I can't say why.

Vardalas:

Did they have an engineering program at Miami?

Hang:

No, they had a BS program. You could get a pre-engineering program. And it turned out, if I went two years, my brother laid out one year and worked. He worked in a furniture factory. He was taking chemistry as a major. But with the BS in chemistry all you had was a BS in chemistry and a degree.

Vardalas:

Hmm.

Hang:

You didn't have enough chemistry to sell yourself.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

He went back to work in the furniture factory.

Vardalas:

You needed two years with the BS in science at Miami. It was pre-engineering in other words.

Hang:

I had a third year and then I left after that. Because I wanted to get an engineering degree and I knew it'd take two years elsewhere.

Education at the University of Illinois

Vardalas:

Where did you go?

Hang:

I went to University of Illinois. I had a good friend. The person that my brother worked for was Hungarian. And he had cousins that came down to Florida. And one of them was an architectural engineer, and he talked me into coming up to Illinois.

I wrote to Emory. I wrote to Texas. And I wrote to the University of Illinois. I got a reply and it said we accept all of your three years of credits so long as they're C or above. I had a D in history down in Florida. Why? At the University of Miami I took a second course in a sequence. I got put in there. Why? You had to have electives. And they didn't have that many and that was it. I had to read all for the last year for background and then start in on the new stuff. My problem was they'd give me three problems. I'm still putting down information on the first one and the bell rings. I didn't know what I gave was fine. I still remember it. I mean, to this day.

Vardalas:

This the history you're talking about now, right?

Hang:

History. And if I had the first part to take care I had to read that on my own. But then by the time I learned how to answer questions, it was too late. I got a D.

Vardalas:

Oh, so that's why you got the D.

Hang:

Yeah.

Vardalas:

When you went to University of Illinois, it's because of connections with your family. An acquaintance convinced you to go to University of Illinois.

Hang:

Yes. And I ended up in the same house I think it was Nevada.

Vardalas:

Now, do you recall what it was like going to University of Illinois as an engineering student compared to what it was like being a student at Miami? What was your feel?

Hang:

Well, I took physics the first year. And then I got a scholarship. What they called a county scholarship. The next year I went ahead and was asked to be an assistant in physics as a sophomore.

Vardalas:

This is in Miami.

Hang:

In Miami.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

I had two years of that. The third year there were two of us that ran the lab. And so I had three years of understanding basic physics. And then I was taking courses. But every time we'd take courses there, there was a bunch of good guys in there that were older than I. And so the third year was the first year I started doing stuff by myself. And there's nobody else to give an A to me. [laughter]

Vardalas:

What courses did you take when you got to Illinois? What was your first year like here?

Hang:

Well I took 16 hours. And what they said was, we'll accept all of them and accept the D, which was 165 hours. Oh no, almost 100, close to 100 hours. We'll accept those if you got a B average. I didn't have a C plus thing like they have in normal pro. I was put on B pro. So I worked my ass, my fanny off [laughter] on that. And it turned out that I got B's in everything except a lab, which I got a C in. And another course mechanics or materials, which I got an A in. The A was for three hours. The C was for two hours. How did I get the C? I had two exams that day. What I could've done was had that set up that I didn't have to take the second one. I came home at noon time. I fell asleep for a 2 to 5 lab. They had the exams for three hours.

After the first hour was a written quiz. He called me. I woke up. I ran down. I took the oral part. And did it in about 15 or 20 minutes. Because I was good at it. He could see that I didn't talk to anyone else. But he wouldn't let me take the exam. I got a zero on that and that's why I got a C out of that course.

Vardalas:

You were in the power engineering, right?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

What were the kind of power engineering courses you took in--

Hang:

Well, machines, transformers, design and some metering. Power metering. And you took a course in light along with that. And then circuits. And then it turned out the second semester. No, it was the second year that I went ahead and had a guy in electronics that liked me and I liked him. He says, I'd like for you to take a problems course. You'll have an office of your own. Here I am, I got a place to put my clothes and all my stuff and a place to work as an undergraduate.

Vardalas:

Was that your first electronics course?

Hang:

Yes. And the thing was I had that but I didn't need to know electronics. What it was, I was measuring the leakage from a cable, a power cable, which I had to go ahead and pump moisture into the thing to get the hydrometer up. I had to build a box to put the thing in. I built two boxes. They told me well, build it out wood and varnish it.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

That wasn't moisture proof. [laughter] I had built one out of metal.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

With about 40 screws around the edge to go ahead and put in a neoprene rubber around the thing and squeeze it there. Put a window in so I could read the hydrometer.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Hang:

And an insulator to get high voltage and then that's when I had the high voltage lab available to me.

Vardalas:

Now thinking back, do you think that your education, your undergraduate education at Illinois was a good one in engineering?

Hang:

It was, all in all it was. It was fantastic. Because the first semester, as I said, I got one A, one C, but the A for three hours. A C for two hours. And the rest were all B's. I didn't have to worry. I already had my credits accepted. I was enjoying myself. Relaxed. I got an A on everything else except one course that I took. And what was that? It was a machine shop course. I says, well, if I get a job and if I get involved in industry, I have to know something about what the workmen do.

Vardalas:

Did you get a B in that?

Hang:

I got a B in that. I think it was for one or two hours. And the reason for that was because of the fact that I didn't want to memorize speeds and feeds. And so I wasn't as fast as I should be.

Vardalas:

So when did you graduate from the University of Illinois? Do you remember the year you graduated?

Hang:

In June of 1941.

Vardalas:

June, 1941. The war had started in December, right?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

It hadn't been declared yet.

Hang:

No.

Vardalas:

No.

Hang:

And I was married by that time.

Vardalas:

You got married while a college student?

Hang:

No, after. I didn't have money enough. But having lived in Florida, I was living on in Urbana. And my house mother was wanting to close the place up because she lived in Hume, about 40, 50 miles from here. And she wanted to close the place up. Well everybody else went to Chicago and wherever. But I could get down to Florida and back and that was it.

Because there wasn't enough time. They invited me to their house. They had a freshman who was a freshman in psychology. He had a girl that he was dating. He got this girl to go and get one of her girlfriends to double date with her. I ended up marrying the gal who got me the double date. [laughter]

Entering the Workforce

Vardalas:

We'll get to that. How did you land your first job after graduation?

Hang:

I ended up getting 13 offers.

Vardalas:

13?

Hang:

Well, everything was defense.

Vardalas:

Oh, right. Okay.

Hang:

It’s all defense.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

At that time.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

And I got a commission in the Navy. I was an Ensign. When it came for graduation, I didn't pass the physical for active duty.

Vardalas:

Oh. Was that a disappointment to you?

Hang:

Well, only in a way. I was born deficient.

Vardalas:

What do you mean?

Hang:

Left lower.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And by the time I graduated we were walking down in Champaign and by coincidence, absolute coincidence, I asked her to marry me.

Vardalas:

It's after you graduated.

Hang:

No, no. Before.

Vardalas:

Oh, before.

Hang:

And the first year I went with this one girl. I never asked her for a date but she always showed up with a car. So I went. [laughter] And then I went back down to Newman, Illinois, which was a little six miles closer from Hume. And the girl, of course, she would come up and we talked about things. I'm sure the question came up; do you want to have children? So I said yes. Well, it was shortly after that we quit going together. Why? She had a kidney operation and it left her sterile.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Hang:

And in those days boys didn't touch girls in any way.

Vardalas:

So she decided not to see you again?

Hang:

And then I got a job in 1940 at Detroit Edison inventorying overhead lines equipment. I understood what the power systems were like.

Vardalas:

While you're a college student you were working part-time for Edison?

Hang:

No. I went to Detroit Edison.

Vardalas:

Oh, Detroit Edison. But while you were still a student?

Hang:

Yes, that was during the summer.

Vardalas:

The summer. Okay, that's a summer job.

Hang:

Yes. I came back and I had a hard time listening to somebody and write something down. I later found out when I had children that I was dyslexic.

Vardalas:

Oh, are you dyslexic? Oh.

Hang:

Yeah, if I see 66 down, I'll read it as 67.

Vardalas:

Well, that must have posed challenges for you.

Hang:

Oh, that happens to an awful lot of people. And you make up for it. You're good in other areas. [laughter]

Vardalas:

What was your first job after graduating? I mean, you became an Ensign.

Hang:

But I--

Vardalas:

Failed a physical.

Hang:

Yes, and my dad knew about it but he didn't know why I wasn't accepted.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And so I was turned down here. And so he wrote to Florida Senator Pepper. My dad was an attorney. He didn't have any trouble that way. I got a second opportunity. I had to go up to Great Lakes, the Naval Training Center.

Hang:

And there the guy went ahead and reached up far enough to where he felt the other testicle. And indicated that I wasn't accepted for active duty.

Vardalas:

But you still kept your Navy--

Hang:

No, I was discharged.

Vardalas:

You were discharged. Then what did you do next?

Hang:

I had only 12 things to go to. I interviewed. I got offers from every one. There were several of them. They just looked at my grades and said, we want him because of all of the things that I had put in there. I mean, I had worked since I was 12 years old.

Hang:

And as far as the money, I gave it to my mother, what I didn't use.

Vardalas:

That was a plus for you when you applied for jobs. The fact that you had worked so much.

Working at GE

Hang:

Then what happened, I didn't read the one to GE very closely. And it said something about sign and returning it. I didn't. That was acceptance of the job.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Hang:

I ended up going there. But at the same time that I was to go to general engineering lab.

Vardalas:

In GE?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

And where was this GE now? Which city? Was this Schenectady?

Hang:

Schenectady. And it was a building by itself. It had vacuum tubes, big vacuum tubes. And the fourth floor was lots of other stuff. Control systems, which was new.

Vardalas:

Right. You accepted GE and what were your expectations of what it would be like to work for GE?

Hang:

Well, to begin with I got there without my birth certificate. I couldn't go to work for two days. And my mother sent it up. In those days, mail was accurate. Not like today.

Vardalas:

So why did you need your birth certificate to prove your age or?

Hang:

I got in and it was noon time when I talked to the guy that I was supposed to work for. They said well you should've been here Monday. That job was at the general engineering lab. I said, no problem. I've got 11 other offers. Now wait a minute. I'm not going to come here if I can't go there. [laughter] Next thing you know, they ask me: “do you know anything about magnetometers?” Somehow or other, from what I had here at the university I knew what it was.

Vardalas:

And what was that? What did you have to do for them in magnetometers?

Hang:

Well, you built them. The reason was that you had magnetic mines. You had contact mines, which were just below the ground. They were chained down.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

You'd blow the side [of the ship] open with the thing. And if it didn't sink it right away it incapacitated the ship. Then there were the sonic mines. As boat sound got closer, the mine exploded. And of course, it doesn’t have to be too close and it stills busts a seam on something. Because water's incompressible and you push it out, it's forced in every direction.

Vardalas:

And then there were magnetic mines.

Hang:

And then there were the magnetic mines. Three foot diameter, 14 foot long, and they would fit on down. They had a compass on the thing that was set. It would go down, it would have a thing to where it would lay into the soft soil. And then there was a soft material in there that would finally melt out and now the thing would arm.

Vardalas:

Right. Okay.

Hang:

But then you had a compass needle. You can turn it this way and it'll go ahead and go towards the earth’s magnetic field. And of course, they had a contact on it.

Hang:

And it hit and it wouldn't, it had to go ahead and be set up so it wouldn't go ahead and give you any problems.

Vardalas:

Right. But unless another ship came by you mean?

Hang:

Well.

Vardalas:

What would trigger it?

Hang:

It would trigger and it was set up sort of like defense controller stuff. In other words on, on, on, on, on. But the thing was that it would go up 80 contacts before it was sent off.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

If there were a bunch of ships coming in, and the last ones were the big ones, and the smaller ones came in first, you didn't want to knock those out. You wanted to knock them big boys out. That's the way you did it. You would mine the place after you left. You're going to have to leave one of your harbors and you would mine your own harbor so it wasn't worthwhile. And if there's anything, any crap around, you sunk it so you had something in the way.

Vardalas:

Right, right, right. So what does the magnetometer do? What did it do?

Hang:

It would measure earth’s magnetic field.

Vardalas:

I see.

Hang:

And it's fairly constant. Accepted as a slight variation throughout the day.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

It was very slow. And it didn't matter. And you put these detectors; the detectors were about 16 inches long, brass, and you had wires wound around on the outside and you connected direct current to that. What you would do is you had a detector inside and you would set it up to where when you had the current through there and that was calibrated. You could tell what the earth’s magnetic field was in that one particular unit And you put 500 of these up in width or 100, 150 foot, whatever it took to be able to take an aircraft carrier that was 1,000 foot long, those damn things.

Vardalas:

This is what you were building and testing in the general lab.

Hang:

No, the detectors were supplied. The Navy put them in.

Hang:

The first one they put in was at Pearl Harbor. And that one, the only thing that we sunk was a two man submarine. And where was it sunk? Right on the garden of magnetometers. It ruined that particular part. What they would do is they said bring the boat in and make it check there. They could tell what was caused by induced field due to the fact that you had iron there. And iron is about 10,000 times more conductive to the magnetic flux waves than air or water. That you could take care of by putting coils around the ship. You had physicists that figure those things out. And they would set them. And it was set for any part of the earth.

Vardalas:

At GE you built these things?

Hang:

The detectors. And you also built the units that supplied the energy to the detectors. And it would be one unit. If we had 500 detectors out, we had 250 control units that you'd check.

Vardalas:

Was this when you got there? How did you learn to do this?

Hang:

Well, the first thing I had to do, Bill Abbott was his name, and he was military, I mean he was in the reserves. Six months after I was with him I had his job.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Now you asked how GE trained their people.

Vardalas:

Right, how did they?

Hang:

They had people on tests, three month tests. After I was on three months, I had spent so many hours that they said could you take another test with me? I was having a wonderful time. I was getting overtime.

Vardalas:

Uh huh.

Hang:

And what else was I working on? I was working with another fellow that I worked for and we were building an automatic integrating pressure travis recorder. What we do there? We went ahead and would test the turbine bucket blades. You know how they set up. Well there's a shape that they have and we were going an extra tenth or a so percent or maybe one percent more efficient. And so how did they do it? They would take data. They'd have girls plot the thing. They plotted it on paper that was uniform thickness. They would cut the thing out, weigh it, and that would tell them what was the area there.

Vardalas:

[Laughter] They'd weigh it. [laughter]

Hang:

Then they'd go ahead and calculate from that, getting all of the data they needed. They were only six months behind. In other words, if six months ago they went ahead and took the data. Six months later they'd know how good it was. And they were working on improving the thing six months later.

Vardalas:

Oh my.

Hang:

Well, we built this thing. It was using an [unintelligible] counter. And we'd slap on the thing every so often and print every time, like on a typewriter. We'd be slapping on there and taking data. And the thing was measuring, we had feeder tubes measuring pressure. They had another one that was a straight line which would tell you whether the pressure of that was uniform. And in 45 seconds we would get a reading for a whole curve.

Vardalas:

This cut down the time considerably.

Hang:

Oh absolutely. Absolutely.

Vardalas:

Who changed it? Who proposed this idea or how did it come about to build this?

Hang:

Well, I was just there to build part of it. It was part done. There was a glass plate table, half inch thick glass, out of two inch stainless steel, tapered wheel that was on there. And we had spots painted on it and a unit that would go ahead and go to a cam system which would give you the 1.4 power that you have for air because we were using air on the thing for that. And so we had these things set on up. And we would run along the whole thing and we would integrate what was on this curve and end up calculating what that was. We could reproduce to a tenth of 100th of a percent, believe it or not. There was tremendous accuracy.

Vardalas:

We're getting back to the training. Did they train you or did just learn on your own to do all these things at GE? You came in knowing certain things but not everything.

Hang:

Well, you work, you ask questions. You talk to other people. And then they would have you in and you reported every week at a meeting. You had the chance to talk. Now so long as Bill Everett, Bill Abbott was there and wasn't called. He was called within the first three months. And then when I went back on for the second one, sometime along there I was running the show. He had a PhD guy on something else. But he was forever getting data. He was getting good data. And I learned how to borrow stuff and it wasn't very long that I was there he said I want Dan Hang with me. He said that way I don't have to go after my own equipment. [laughter] I was using it. I mean I was going to win the war myself.

Vardalas:

Really? You were a determined young man.

Hang:

Oh, everyone was that way.

Vardalas:

Uh huh.

Hang:

I mean, that was a situation.

Vardalas:

I mean you had a sense of purpose then.

Marriage

Hang:

And on Sunday, December 7th, my wife and I were down after I finally got married, when I, I wouldn't date her. I'd see her and I'd go out looking for an apartment. We had already had all the blood tests and so forth. She finally says one day, Dan, you know if we don't get married pretty soon we'll never get married. I went out that morning and found a Methodist minister who had would go ahead and marry us that evening at 9:00. And I got home in time for lunch. I was living with 26 guys who were also on test. And they had been on test elsewhere. So these houses that were there on test that got in there, there'd be different things they talk about it and what not.

Vardalas:

This is all run by GE. The place you lived in.

Hang:

No, no. Those were private.

Vardalas:

Oh, but these were all GE employees who were living in it.

Hang:

Yes. They were GE employees there. And there were several of these. And then some of them who were on permanent.

Vardalas:

Okay. All right. All right. So then you got--

Hang:

So I had 26 people and I asked them if they all would go with me. One of them I knew from here. He was a year earlier than I. And I met him and I ended up staying at his place.

Vardalas:

So the invited people to your wedding were--

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

These people.

Hang:

And I got one of those guys, I don't remember his name, I'd have to look on my wedding thing, what his name was. And then we invited Ms. Brulee, who was the cook there. And I didn't know who cleaned.

Vardalas:

Who was your best man?

Hang:

The best man, I don't remember him. [laughter]

Vardalas:

But somebody else from that house?

Hang:

Yeah, it was somebody from the house.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Hang:

Yeah, it was somebody from the house. We never got together again. They had it set up. Once we got married they drove us out to some night club. It was two in the morning before we got to the hotel. I stayed two days at the Best Hotel. I think that was $5 a night. Then it was about 3.15 at the next one for $2 for two hours. And by that time my wife was fired. She had come there. She had studied here in town for a year and took training.

Vardalas:

In what?

Hang:

Oh, commercial college. It wasn't university. Colbert's was the family. They were all accountants and what not. And they were good.

Vardalas:

She took her training there.

Hang:

Yes, she took her training. She could do 80 words a minute and no errors.

Vardalas:

And then why did she get fired?

Hang:

She married me.

Vardalas:

We're allowed to be married. [laughter]

Hang:

That was one thing. The other one was…

[End tape 1; begin tape 2]

The Boston Problem

Vardalas:

You were talking about when you went up to Boston.

Hang:

Yes, we went to Boston, and we were at the end of the pier, and there was a gantry crane running along. Fortunately there were some windows off to the side. So I’m looking at the things, and all of a sudden they are flicking. I see light flicking through this corner, side of my eye, and then when it went off, it was quiet again. So it suddenly dawned on me. They’re using the rail as a ground on their work. What did they have? They had this one destroyer that got hit by a torpedo. It had a huge hole in the side. They limped the thing in, and they were going to get it done in very short time. So I had gotten outside, went on down and went on over, and I said look, we’re running these things here, and of course those guys didn’t know from nothing. You couldn’t tell them anything. And I said can you cut off all of your welding that you’re doing? They said yes, and of course they called me a communist.

Vardalas:

Why would they do that?

Hang:

Well, we were stopping them. I mean they were on a time schedule to get that thing done. It had an awful lot of media behind it.

Vardalas:

[interposing] That work was messing up the flux?

Hang:

Yeah, that was messing up the readings there. Why? Because it was messing up the stuff that we were having.

Vardalas:

Oh, I see.

Hang:

And so I go on back, and it still does it, but not so much. I go on back; look, find out who on that ship is still working with welding equipment, electric arc weld.

Vardalas:

It was electric arc weld, right.

Hang:

Yes. I said no, there is somebody that’s got it. They go all the way down in the damn hold, and somebody was still doing it there. No Nazi was going to go ahead and stop him. So I told them, well, cut off the power from him. And so I went on back, and then we sent the word back that it was all okay, that we had solved the problem.

Working at the University of Illinois

Vardalas:

So five and a half years at GE, and you move on to University of Illinois. Is that correct?

Hang:

Well, yes.

Vardalas:

After GE?

Hang:

My first son was born in Schenectady, and so he was almost three years old when—well, my second son was born three years later. We were going to have them two years apart, and it turned out that my wife had a miscarriage. So the second one came after she finally got over her miscarriage and stuff like that; first child, 72 hours in labor.

Vardalas:

Oh, my.

Hang:

Painless or silent contractions. She didn’t know how to provide it. The baby was born on the 30th of September. On the 27th is when she went into labor. New York City, Yankees World Series. The doctor was there. So they had somebody else and whatnot, not knowing how to take care of it and so forth. It almost killed her.

Vardalas:

Really? Oh, my.

Hang:

My mother-in-law was just—I didn’t know it. Why? I was writing an article. I knew she was in there having labor, but it didn’t dawn on me. This is the first child. You weren’t allowed to go ahead and go in there. A father was the last thing they wanted to see.

Vardalas:

Is this when you were working at GE?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Were you writing an article for GE, a published article or something?

Hang:

I was writing something about the photoelectric recorder that I had, and also an article that would be published about that.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And then they would use that in some of their publications. But it still had to be good.

Hang:

So then she came back to Newman to raise her child. Why? Her next-door neighbor was a good doctor, and so my second son was born here in Tuscola, south of here 20 miles, the closest place to Newman.

Vardalas:

Now when your second child was born, where were you working?

Hang:

Still at GE.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

So I came back a couple months before she was due. I played golf with her dad, and I came on up to see the faculty here, and they said we need you, we want you. You have the experience we need. You can go to the grad school here. But the dean, the department head is not here; somebody else. So I came back when the child was born on the 10th of October, and came on up, and I met the head of the department, who was Bill Everett.

Vardalas:

Bill Everett, yes.

Hang:

Bill Everett hired me in in a half an hour, and I accepted, not knowing what I had to do, what he had to do to get me accepted.

Vardalas:

What did he have to do to get you accepted?

Hang:

Because I came in as an assistant professor with a bachelor’s degree and five and a half years’ experience.

Vardalas:

Was it your intention to go do graduate work anyway while you were at GE? Did you intend to do that when--

Hang:

[interposing] I went ahead and took two courses at night school there at Union College. They were all math.

Vardalas:

Okay, so you intended to do a graduate degree anyway. Did you intend to do a graduate degree while you were at GE?

Hang:

If I’d have stayed there, yes. They had programs there for that. I was in it for about a year. A good friend of mine from here ran what they called the ABC course and that was the equivalent of a pre-Ph.D. without the thesis and the reason GE did that—they didn’t have a Ph.D., but they did such a good job. Those guys could move elsewhere with the equivalent of a Ph.D.

Vardalas:

But you accepted, at University of Illinois, your assistant professorship on condition that you get a graduate degree?

Hang:

Yes, and I started right away going after a masters. And I got that in ’49.

Vardalas:

So what were your responsibilities? What did you let yourself into? What did you have to do when you came?

Hang:

As I started saying, the first day I started at GE, the guy said I want you to build me a breadboard we can work on tomorrow morning. So I had to find a drawing board and use that, because it was three or four dollars for that. That was a good base to go ahead and put a circuit on, and an instrument and everything. By midnight I had it done except for one wire I missed. I came back the next morning. We were working on it, and he looked it over and he found the one wire. A couple of years later I needed another board like that. There was a guy two weeks in doing it. So I took him off to the side. Look, I did that same thing, and I showed you what it was like, and I want one now, and it took you two weeks to do it. You’re not goofing off anymore on me. But that’s the way.

Vardalas:

I wanted to get back to—what I meant is what did you have to do when you came to University of Illinois as an assistant professor? What were your duties when you came?

Hang:

I started in teaching a class in circuits and another one in machines. The one on machines, I had taken it. I sat in the class with the guy that I had it with before, and I was there every day that he gave his sermon or gave his thing. After a while I was changing it a little bit because as I knew more and I learned from him what I should and shouldn’t do.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

I had a group of fellows at that time who were older. Where did they end up going? Korean War. Some of them were officers, older than I, and I had a couple young guys in there. And of course with older guys, you and your wife were invited to some functions with them after a while, and it was a good experience.

Vardalas:

These older guys were older faculty, you mean, or students?

Hang:

No, they were military guys that were going to go to Korea.

Vardalas:

How did you meet them? Were they part of the University of Illinois faculty or students? How did you meet them?

Hang:

They were in my class.

Vardalas:

They were in your class?

Hang:

Yes, they were finishing their degree.

Vardalas:

And going off to Korea?

Hang:

Yes, and they got through, and because of what else they had, if they had a year there, it was fine. It was better than not having any.

Vardalas:

Did you have a heavy teaching load?

Hang:

Yes, because soon after I took circuits, there was a design class. Also I had taught engineering economics, and I sat in on a guy’s class who taught me before. So you did that, but the thing was when everybody came back, there were six of us in a room smaller than this, six faculty, each having a desk. Fortunately all six weren’t there at once. Then we went ahead and went elsewhere, and at times we were in a house.

Vardalas:

Okay. So you did graduate work while you were teaching.

Hang:

That’s right, and trying to do all the things that were needed for tenure. The Newman building, the Everett lab, was then the electrical engineering building.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

I was buying all the furniture for the thing.

Vardalas:

So you had that responsibility.

Hang:

So I had to go ahead and go in and see Everett and, and he would go ahead and see what I had and sign it.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Look at what I requisitioned, and I would buy little things at a time. Why? Rather than going for a week and then having a big one to go over there, I’ve got to get rid of it and do something else. I soon found out that Bill Everett would come in, and he’d sign it, and I’d leave. He wouldn’t look at it. He was trusting me. So I told the group, I can get a fantastic order, and he’ll sign it. This is in 1949.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

So I see an advertising bulletin, and it’s on the front page, $7,000. It has a refrigerator and lots of other stuff on it, and all the radio stuff that was there; no television yet. So I order 12 of them, and I indicate who’s going to get them. Half of them are teetotalers and half of them drink. Then I ordered a case of Haig and Haig scotch.

Vardalas:

You put that on that order?

Hang:

Yes, and then a dozen corkscrews, gold-tipped, so it’s $84,000-some dollars. And I left it with him.

Vardalas:

Did he sign it?

Hang:

He signed it. He starts looking at it. He crosses his name out, and he said return for competitive bidding and cited Harry Hopkins, who was Secretary of State at the time. He took it as a joke. Well, later when he became dean, I’d come on in. What was I doing? I’d go ahead and I’d see Verna Fender, his secretary. I would raise my hand and point in. She knew I was going to take a couple of stories in to him. Why? He was always being called to be a master of ceremonies for something or other; here, elsewhere, whatnot, so he would do that. But before I left, I’d have a couple that he would test me on, so I’d go back to the shop. That’s another thing. He assigned the machine shop to me, so I had five or six or seven machinists that I had to keep busy, and talk to different people, tell them who to go to and whatnot, those that didn’t know, and they’d do their work.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Then later on Bill Everett would go down there, and he would pick up stuff. For that I needed to buy stuff for the guys—I’d send them out. While you’re out for lunch or whatnot, pick this up and bring it back out. Then I ended up getting $20 from the university, from the accounting department, to buy stuff. Then when I ran out of that $20, I’d put it down on one requisition and send it in because I knew that the requisitions cost them about $5 apiece just to get it through the system.

Vardalas:

So did you finish your masters? You got a masters.

Hang:

In August of ’49.

Vardalas:

And then you started the Ph.D.

Hang:

I started to for one more class after that, and then I started to realize I had two sons that needed a dad. I had a wife that needed a husband. I was going after tenure, and I had languages to work on—I know two of them, Hungarian, my first language, and then English, my second—and that that it wouldn’t be long, and that my mother-in-law couldn’t keep my wife from divorcing me. She understood. She had gone to college for two years.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

She went to Purdue.

Vardalas:

So she understood what you were going through.

Hang:

Well, she knew the situation.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

They didn’t have enough money to send her to college. She finally ended up going to Parkland College here the year it opened up, but that’s another story.

Vardalas:

So you withdrew from your Ph.D. program. What did you do then?

Hang:

By ’49, I had already decided to go after and get a professional engineering license in Illinois. I had five and a half years there, another two years here. I only needed four years total experience. So I went on up and took the exam in Chicago, and I got the thing early in 1950.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

And the next thing you know, I’m consulting.

Engineering Economics

Vardalas:

You said you taught a course in engineering economics, right?

Hang:

Right.

Vardalas:

And you got into engineering economics as a specialty. Is that correct?

Hang:

Yeah, I found out how to do the things, but there was stuff that I didn’t understand, and I couldn’t quite fathom.

Vardalas:

Like what?

Hang:

Like one thing; if you put fuel in a nuclear plant—it’s already running—the money that you go ahead and put in for buying the fuel, the uranium, enriching it, fabricating it, and installing it. Commonwealth Edison was charging six percent for that. It’s not like now that if you get four or five percent, you’re killing them; you’re getting a killing somewhere. Before it went down, they were getting as high as 16 percent interest, compounded quarterly.

Vardalas:

So what was the problem you didn’t understand?

Hang:

So, before it went into operation, they were collecting six percent rent on it.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

After it started to run, it went up to nine percent. Why? Now you were allowed to earn on it. Well, the thing was I finally figured out it was an impossibility to earn on it until it was in the reactor. Then at the same time, you have to be able to meet the requirements for maximum demand. So when it’s not maximum demand, like at nighttime, late at night, you’re not running something. The nuclear plant you want to run because its first cost is higher, but the operating cost, the fuel cost, is much less, considerably so.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

As a result, then the Commerce Commission—the people who work for Commerce Commission, they’re intelligent, but they work for guys who are on the Commission, and they want to be reappointed. That’s their job. To get reappointed, they have to keep the customer power cost low.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

I had a call yesterday, and I got mad as get-out.

Vardalas:

Really?

Hang:

He says well, electricity is a commodity. I said yes, but you’re working on it after commodity, I said, and that’s extra cost. You’re getting paid for it when you don’t need to be. You don’t need to be there, and you’re making it hard on the electric utility. Pretty soon one of these guys is going to go ahead and say all right, run your own damn company.

Vardalas:

So going back for a second, can you explain what is engineering economics? How do you describe to your students? What is it about?

Hang:

Well, look, economy you understand.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

Engineering economics is a little bit part of everything that goes in to do that. If you go ahead and you say "do I buy this particular uranium"—"this company or this one"—they don’t provide you with the same amount of energy, so you’ve got to put it on a unit basis. You have to calculate it, either is it mils per kilowatt hour or cents per million BTU of heat?

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Now to do that, you go ahead and say well, what are the costs? When does it occur? On nuclear plants, you may be six or seven years before you start the construction. You’ve got a couple more years getting the Atomic Energy Commission, now known as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to go ahead and say that you can go ahead and do it. You’ve got all that money that you can’t earn on until you start producing power. So you’ve got to go ahead and you’ve got to recover that money over the time period, but also you have to recover the cost of that money. The utility gets about 50 percent of their money from stocks and the other 50 percent from bonds. A telephone company gets about a third from bonds and about two-thirds from stock. Then there are other companies that can get money from bonds, a lot of them that have a high risk; it all has to be stock. So in order to take care of that, you’ve got to go ahead and—the bond money, when do you pay the interest? Every year. It’s an expense. Stockholders, you don’t have to pay them. What gets paid after taxes? The federal government taxes the corporation. Now that’s one of the things they’re talking about. I read recently—it was in Forbes—that they’re trying to get the corporations to not tax, but to tax on basis of earned income-- as increase in value.

Vardalas:

So this is all part of engineering economic calculation, you’re saying?

Hang:

Yes. So now if the six percent—if the company’s paying 50 percent tax, the money that is in for interest, that’s deductible right away. So the six percent is less than six percent when it comes to calculation.

Vardalas:

So this is the kind of work you were doing, and this is the kind of area you were specializing in.

Hang:

Yes.

Getting into Nuclear

Vardalas:

Now you mentioned nuclear several times, and I’m just curious how you made the transition. I mean you were a power engineer. You were doing power, conventional power circuits. How did you get into this.

Hang:

[interposing] The last semester at the University of Miami, or the last year--

Vardalas:

[interposing] Miami now?

Hang:

Yes. I took a course in modern physics from the professor who later became dean down there; had studied at the University of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was really up on stuff. They had a lot of Hungarians there who were studying in new work like Teller and--

Vardalas:

[interposing] In nuclear physics, you mean?

Hang:

Yes, and I had a background in nuclear—that is, atomic--physics.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

So it was easy for the associate dean, who says Dan—and how did I know him? He too did not have anything but a master’s degree.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Why did I retire when I did? I could make more money if I quit.

Vardalas:

I see, all right.

Hang:

I could do it on the side, and I started a company.

Vardalas:

So going back now, the dean came to you and said what?

Hang:

Well, he says we’re going to form a nuclear program, and it’s going to run out of my office. We’ll get some physics guys in there, civil engineering guys, mechanical, aero. No nuclear because there weren’t any at time.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Ceramic, metallurgy, materials, and everything of that sort.

Vardalas:

That was an ambitious program.

Hang:

We would meet oftentimes daily at lunchtime in the dean’s office. We’d bring our sack lunch in there and work our butts off, arguing our heads off. Why? We didn’t understand it all. Some guy knew one thing. He went ahead and took care of that. Then they started having classes. Then I started teaching with another guy. The two of us did it together. So I went 50 percent nuclear, 50 percent electrical. What does that mean? The requirement from each one is 75 percent.

Vardalas:

There was no practical outlet for you in nuclear.

Hang:

Well, we were going to have a reactor here. We built a reactor here.

Vardalas:

You built a reactor?

Hang:

Yes, that was one of the things we mostly worked on. I went on out to California for three weeks, and I ended up with a license to operate the one in La Hoya.

Vardalas:

La Hoya.

Hang:

In La Hoya, Gel Atomic. That’s the reactor we bought. You could pulse the thing. We pulsed it to where we would raise the thermal power to twice what we get out of any one of the reactors here in the state of Illinois.

Vardalas:

I see. So you bought this reactor.

Hang:

We bought the reactor, had it put into a building, and that whole cost was $100,000.

Vardalas:

Were there any fears, regulatory concerns about putting it here on campus?

Hang:

Well, yes, that was—and where it was put, it was back right close by.

Vardalas:

And there were no fears? Nobody complained about installing a reactor here?

Hang:

Twenty years later, they have a reactor here. Well, open house; the kids came in, and they loved it.

Vardalas:

I see.

Hang:

They got to see the Cherenkov radiation and stuff like that.

Vardalas:

Okay, so 50 percent of your time was in EE, and 50 percent of the time was in nuclear, and the two kind of fed each other, right?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Yeah, I see. Did the dean tell you why he decided to build a nuclear engineering program here?

Hang:

Well, he was due for any change. As a matter of fact, what change did he want? He wanted to have a program on engineering and communication, engineering this, engineering and transportation, and all the others, and he started at University of Illinois at Chicago that way.

Vardalas:

Oh.

Hang:

But it turned out you couldn’t sell it to the public who was hiring them.

Vardalas:

Why is that?

Hang:

Well, the guy didn’t fit what—he was wanting an electrical engineer.

Vardalas:

I see. He had a degree in engineering transportation, you mean, as opposed to--

Hang:

[interposing] Yeah, it would have been a lot of things.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

And he was right in a way. I mean he was years ahead of people.

Vardalas:

So he’s producing interdisciplinary people.

Hang:

Well, look what’s happened since then. We now have computers. We have astrol. We have now materials which—we no longer have a civil—ceramic engineering. We no longer have materials and all of these others, and we have bioengineering now.

Vardalas:

What was this dean’s name, by the way?

Hang:

That was Bill Everett.

Vardalas:

That was Bill Everett too?

Hang:

Yeah.

HTH & Associates

Vardalas:

I see. Now we’re in nuclear engineering. Tell me about this company you cofounded with John Hughes.

Hang:

He was a grad student of mine.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

He had gotten his bachelor’s degree, University of Illinois Chicago Circle campus, which is the one up there. It’s why they call it the Circle campus, because of the way it’s built.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

It’s not spread; it’s up.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

So he came in to nuclear as an undergraduate. I had just gotten through taking a sabbatical on this business of the six percent and nine percent. I talked to them, and then he said well, GE told us to do it that way because they had bought a lot of boiling water reactors. Dresden was a boiling water reactor. So I take a sabbatical, one semester; I take my wife. I go down to visit my brother. Why? That’s in Florida. On the way down, I’ll go by Oakridge and some other places, University of Florida, and down to Miami. I’ll find myself the physics head of—now dean, who I know very well. I go ahead and introduce, get myself into Florida Power Light, and they’re looking at the very first reactor [of that design] that was built, and that was in New Jersey, Oyster Creek. I had studied Oyster Creek. I knew what was wrong with it and what was right with it by this time. So I give a class down there a few times, one that they had for something else. They shove me in there, and I do it all for free. Then I go ahead and spend about three months deciding where I will go the rest of the time. I end up going to Kansas because I knew people there; Arizona because I knew people there, and then went on out to California. By this time I was in the American Nuclear Society, so I was there for some meetings and whatnot.

Vardalas:

So this is all part of your sabbatical, then?

Hang:

What?

Vardalas:

It’s all part of your sabbatical?

Hang:

Yeah, included in the sabbatical part.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Then I went to see the guy at Vallecitos; GE had a reactor there. They talked to a guy, and I said you were the one they told me who said that you knew why this was separated, six percent and nine percent. I couldn’t fathom what it was. He says well, Commonwealth Edison told us to do it that way. Here I am, a dog trying to catch his tail.

Vardalas:

You know, I was about to use that same metaphor.

Hang:

Yes. So then I agreed to come to Commonwealth Edison, finish out my sabbatical, and when I got done there, then they would pay me. They would pay me before that to live there, so they were very nice.

Vardalas:

They meaning University of Illinois?

Hang:

What?

Vardalas:

They, meaning University of Illinois, were very nice to pay you to be there?

Hang:

No, when I was on sabbatical, that paid me until the end of the semester, but I was there in May, so on and off, I went on their thing.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

But in the meantime I found out where you eat in Chicago and never see a restaurant. I mean they’re there, but they’re all hidden.

Vardalas:

I see. So what did Edison tell you about why they did that?

Hang:

Well, I went to Edison, and I started working with them in their statistical research area. We were now using hand calculators. Then I got involved with them and seven companies that had been set up by a ceramic guy that was there, a metallurgist, and he got people from various electric utilities. Commonwealth Edison was one of them. The name CINCAS; I don’t think I put that in there.

Vardalas:

How do you spell that?

Hang:

C-I-N-C-A-S.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

C, Commonwealth Edison; I, Indiana Illinois; N, Northern States Power; C, Consumers Power; A, Arthur Andersen; S, Sargent Lundy.

Vardalas:

Wow.

Hang:

All involved with this thing. So we decided there together, and we included accountants. And when you have accountants, they put the—here’s the cost at the first of the month. Here’s the cost at the second. We’ll take it in the middle on there. What does that do if you can’t check anything? Because months aren’t alike and so forth, and you’re separating different days. It just made a mess out of it, but the accountants like a mess because that keeps them busy.

Vardalas:

Did you ever solve the six and nine?

Hang:

So we end up with a program; it’s called CINCAS.

Vardalas:

Okay, CINCAS.

Hang:

But we did it two ways. We did it present-valuing things and then doing it on a present-worth basis. We weren’t getting the same answers because the data that was put in there was put in as the accountants wanted it and then converting it to monthly interest and having—it just wouldn’t work.

Vardalas:

No. Let me just backtrack for a second. So how does this relate to the company you formed, cofound with John Hughes?

Hang:

Okay. John went ahead and got his masters, and he went on off to Commonwealth Edison, and he was now working for Commonwealth Edison in the Dresden unit.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

And he was in charge of one part of it.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

He was a bright kid. His dad was working there. He knew the president of the company.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Well, Marv Wyman, who was our physicist, and Felix Adler were the two physics guys, but the guy that was more practical was Wyman. He was second in charge under Max—what the heck is it? No, Ross Martin.

Vardalas:

Wyman is spelled W-Y-M-A-N?

Hang:

That’s right.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

He ended up leaving here at one time, and he went to the school in Virginia.

Vardalas:

So these people you’re referring--

Hang:

[interposing] Dominion.

Vardalas:

These people you’re referring to, the people you just mentioned, are they all involved in forming this company?

Hang:

[interposing] No, no. Wyman talked Hughes into coming back to campus and start doing work for the Ph.D.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

And believe it or not, what he worked on when he was here earlier was this program, and we went ahead, really found out what to do with it. So he comes here. I get the job up in Chicago finishing my sabbatical. So he’s down here; I’m up there, and we’re corresponding. But finally he gets his Ph.D. in ’75.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Because he spent a couple years there in - - order to get his Ph.D. I could take care of the engineering economics aspect and the design situation, and there was a fellow who had been working on the atomic bomb and was teaching up at Northwestern.

Vardalas:

These are his advisors for Ph.D.?

Hang:

We hired him here.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

As a matter of fact, three of the four guys I helped hire because we hired them by committee.

Vardalas:

Hughes was hired here?

Hang:

What?

Vardalas:

Was Hughes hired here, John Hughes?

Hang:

He ended up going to Florida.

Vardalas:

All right.

Hang:

By the time he leaves here, he had worked up at Commonwealth Edison enough to where we went ahead and talked those guys into changing the program that Commonwealth Edison was using for purchase of fuel.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Only a few guys knew about it.

Vardalas:

All right.

Hang:

When I got through talking up there, the president of the company says you were a little hard on us, when I finally said it. You have to go ahead and recognize that you are on a 50/50 basis for stocks and bonds, and that’s the way you have to figure what you’re doing. The way the Commerce Commission wants to do, you’re going to have to argue with them that they’re not right.

Vardalas:

Okay. I’m trying to resolve—why was this company formed? You and John—when did he propose his company?

Hang:

Well, he said you and I ought to form a company before he ever left here. He said you and I ought to form a company. I said John, when you find the time is right, say when.

Vardalas:

And when did he find the time?

Hang:

Three years later he calls up. This is John Hughes; when? And he hangs up. He and I know each other. I know what’s on his mind. He knows what’s on mine. I mean this is--

Vardalas:

[interposing] And the company was formed then?

Hang:

Then I called a guy who lives here, who now is an attorney in town, and he lives here now because he’s 90.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

And I said, Stu, how do I form a company? He said well, we need a name. Well, I always wanted to use GEM, General Economic Model, but GEM is used for everything.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

So then the next time he says I’m working for such-and-such and so forth, and so I said well, we don’t need more than three guys. So H for Hang or Hughes for first, T for Tomonto, who was the guy, an Italian. He was a physics guy that went to Rensselaer.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

He was down there and had worked on fuel purchases before, and selling fuel.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

And then myself, Hang or Hughes. We always argued which one was first. So it’s HTH, and the others were associates.

Vardalas:

So it was called HTH & Associates.

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

What did you see as the primary product or service you were providing?

Hang:

Well, in ’73 we went ahead and got the program on a large computer, and we put it on the Argonne, free.

Vardalas:

So this was a program, to model the purchasing of fuel?

Hang:

That’s right, and that’s all.

Vardalas:

The economics, the whole--

Hang:

[interposing] Well, just the first part, getting the mils per kilowatt hour and cents per million BTU. But we did it at that time not only for a boiling water reactor, but for pressurized water reactors, for a fast reactor, and for high-temperature gas-cooled reactor.

Vardalas:

Four types.

Hang:

The last three, there’s only been two of them built in the United States.

Vardalas:

Was this a very difficult thing to develop the software to do this?

Hang:

Well, once you got it for one, it’s just a matter of putting in the differences and whatnot and where you put the files and so forth. Then when it comes to running the numbers, you just bring them on together.

Vardalas:

You hadn’t given up your university job yet, had you?

Hang:

No, I have yet to leave.

Vardalas:

So you were consulting. This was like a consulting firm you three had started, right, HTH?

Hang:

Well, HTH Associates, and we set it up as a Delaware corporation.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Because we didn’t know where people would be going, thought that was a good one.

Vardalas:

But you all had other jobs in addition.

Hang:

That’s right, and we have yet to have a full-time employee.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Everyone we hire is an independent contractor, so we don’t have to have insurance.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

We pay by the hour.

Vardalas:

Are you still in existence? Is HTH still in existence?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Still doing business?

Hang:

It’s about 150 feet from here in my apartment.

Vardalas:

Do you still have customers today?

Hang:

Yeah, we have Ameren. It used to be called UE, Union Electric, and it’s now called Ameren Missouri. They also have Ameren United, Ameren Illinois, which are three companies here that they own.

Vardalas:

So most of the companies you consult for are in the Illinois area? Do you consult across the country?

Hang:

No, we have one in Ohio, which is called First Energy.

Vardalas:

Right, okay.

Hang:

They have about five or more reactors. They’re in Ohio; they’re in Pennsylvania. We had at one time Florida Power and Light, where he went to work.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

Then Florida Power and Light decided they wanted to do the fuel management themselves.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

They would use our program. They would do the consulting and all that stuff.

Vardalas:

Right. Do you have a license for them to use your program?

Hang:

Well, we had it set up on that. Then they went ahead and started adding things that they needed, and they could push a button and now get a program. Now how far has that developed? They got more than 25 different things. We can push a button, put the dates in that we want. We get a program fit to send to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to the Commerce Commission in every state where they have a reactor, and then also to the customers of—the owners of these things because there’s three reactors out in California that supply power to California; one at Palo Verde. Three reactors there. They also supply power for San Diego, for the Los Angeles water and power district, which is a municipality. They charge 11 percent for the money. Why? They use it for other things. Then we also have Excel, which is in Minnesota now.

Working for the Corps of Engineers

Vardalas:

Okay. Just to leave your company for a second because something you said to me over the phone was very fascinating.

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

You talked about a project you did in the early ’70s for the Army Corps of Engineers and how that later had repercussions, applications. Can you tell me about the project first in the ‘70s and then the implications later?

Hang:

Because of my background in nuclear engineering and engineering economy, I’m apparently fairly well known. As a matter of fact, I had MIT want stuff from me and it had come to some of the things that I had gone to.

Vardalas:

Mm-mm.

Hang:

The Corps of Engineers is in Champaign asked if I was interested in coming out there and helping a couple of fellows from electrical engineering or nuclear so I went there. I get an hourly rate or a daily rate for what I do. I’m working with a guy who knows everything about every form that was needed for the Army Corps of Engineers, and there are hundreds of them. So I’m working with him, a fellow named Jack Pollock. What project? We’re going to go ahead and build [power systems]—they determined what components needed to be put together that could be installed in 72 hours, shipped by a C140; well, the workhorse.

Vardalas:

The cargo plane.

Hang:

Cargo planes. Get the prime mover, the generators, the transformers, the switch gear, the cabling. The cabling is to be surface grade because they don’t want to spend any time to put up poles and stuff like that.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

That could come later, and other stuff. That’s their distribution system.

Vardalas:

What kind of capacity did they want for these units to be put together?

Hang:

So, I had to learn all about diesel generators. I worked with the big catalogs, the ones that had turbines and gas turbines, the airplane turbines, which you could use; just gear them down. Already some of those were geared down because you had the turbo props.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Then transformers and the diesel generators; which ones were good, which ones would last, what kind to get, what were their ratings and so forth, and what was the maintenance on it and the time between failures. That was important.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

Yeah.

Vardalas:

So this is a project to set up a power system that can be put into a C140, assembled in 72 hours.

Hang:

Well, we didn’t worry about getting—we just found out will this fit in there, will that fit in. They could tell.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

We just had to get these things that you needed.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

This had to fit a 10,000-troop group.

Vardalas:

Supply power for 10,000?

Hang:

Yes, power for 10,000.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

They should be able to haul it out and assemble it. It should be assembled in 72 hours.

Vardalas:

So what was the most challenging part of that work for you when you did that?

Hang:

Well, the one was economics as to what to get. Then the wires, the cable size, because you’d have three wires for the main power, and they may go up to 13,000 volts or something like that; divide by the square root of three would be the phase value. Then we said well, we don’t need a ground because you can just put it in the ground here anywhere. You go down two feet and you’ve got water. But it says you had to carry a ground. We said why the heck do they have to carry the ground? So we went ahead and said well, we’ll use the biggest size that we need, one cable each. We’d take that for the 10,000 troops.

Vardalas:

...the part about the wires now, the ground.

Hang:

Yes. And then they would put logs and whatnot where the heavy traffic would have to go across it. Other than that, they would have their own distribution after that. The transformers would have to be single phase, but taps on it so you could connect it in Y or delta. We didn’t know what systems to put. The two should be available, depending upon what you needed. If the delta was fine, it could—but the Y is nice because you can carry your harmonics through the ground. And [unintelligible] balanced loads, you didn’t know which part was going to get more power drawn off of it.

Vardalas:

When did this work of yours start for the Army Corps of Engineers, this analysis?

Hang:

I think it was about ’72 or ’73.

Vardalas:

When did you come to the final--

Hang:

[interposing] ’75.

Vardalas:

’75, I see.

Hang:

I got a report back from Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC. They didn’t like the economics, engineering economics. I wrote back, whoever said that, if I had them in class, I’d have failed them. I also put in there that the Navy and the Air Force do it right.

Vardalas:

What was the reply to that?

Hang:

They never commented back.

Vardalas:

Was the system ever deployed?

Hang:

What?

Vardalas:

Your analysis; did they ever use your analysis?

Hang:

Yes. Well, must have because that’s the only place that I know of—they could have put it elsewhere. The first time we knew about it was that they had this set up so that it could take care of Iraq.

Vardalas:

In the first—Desert Storm, you mean?

Hang:

Well, it was first installed in Saudi Arabia because that’s where they were shoving the people up from.

Vardalas:

Okay, so this was all brought in.

Hang:

I’m sure some of it went into Iraq and wherever, and I’m sure it could have gone into Afghanistan.

Other Projects

Vardalas:

Now that was an interesting project. Are there any other memorable projects that you worked on that come to mind when you think back, that you’re most proud of?

Hang:

Where is that sheet that I gave you?

Vardalas:

This here?

Hang:

Yes. We did a project for A.O. Smith; the harvest stores, purple-blue things.

Vardalas:

What are those?

Hang:

If you go fly a plane on the way up to Chicago, you’ll see them.

Vardalas:

What do they do?

Hang:

They store grain.

Vardalas:

The grain elevators, okay.

Hang:

Grain elevators.

Vardalas:

Yeah. What was that project about?

Hang:

Well, there were five-horse power motors burning out. So Jerry Williams, who’s listed in the stuff from the AIEE, he and I took on the job of checking these things. I had the license; he didn’t. We went ahead and set up a dynamometer; and the thing worked beautifully, nothing wrong with it. The only thing was when we got up to the five-horsepower rating, it was way overrated current. Instead of being 33 amperes, it was 38.2. So he says all you need to do is change the nameplate on it. Put it down to three horsepower and then build a [unintelligible] of five horsepower.

Vardalas:

That was your solution.

Hang:

But then I had one where I was involved. We had a fan motor burn up in Peoria or somewhere, and they wanted to sue whoever sold it and the company that built it. It was being sold by JC Penney. It turned out it had pushbuttons on the top to change the power level, the fan speed. It was in a room where there were a lot of people living, and they were sleeping on the floor, and somebody put some clothes over it. The fuse was set very high, and what had happened was somebody put a shirt or something over it, and they kind of dressed in the dark and laid down to sleep and pushed on two of the buttons together. That caused the short.

Vardalas:

What happened after that?

Hang:

Well, the short got hot and started to burn, and then that caught on fire. So I just had to figure out what it was, and I didn’t worry about anything other than looking at it. Jerry Williams and I did the work on this one. That was the thing, to go ahead and figure out what did it.

Vardalas:

Were there injuries involved with this?

Hang:

What?

Vardalas:

Were there injuries? Was there a big fire that people got hurt?

Hang:

I only read the part about—they gave me what was the deposition that was taken. And then came to that conclusion. So the company must’ve gotten—for the fact that people could push two buttons

Vardalas:

The fact they could push it was the problem.

Hang:

Yeah.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

And nobody did it, but they went ahead, and the fan must have caught it.

Vardalas:

I see.

Hang:

Well, then another one, which was one that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Vardalas:

What is that?

Hang:

That’s the first project that I took on. Mattoon is about 50 miles from Champaign south on the interstate.

Vardalas:

Mattoon?

Hang:

Mattoon, Illinois. It’s another Indian name.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

They shipped across to Indiana—and it was caught by state police, and they figured that the stuff might be a gambling device. It was like a one-armed bandit, and it’s a one-armed bandit which was spring-run. And the springs were set up—the places that they were, you couldn’t tell by how slow you did it—didn’t matter how slow you did it. Once it released, the spring that was wound up—and they were now wound in different places, and you couldn’t tell anything. It was a gambling device. There was no rolling ball like a pinball machine. Pinball machines, you can have them anywhere, and it’s not a gambling device. So the thing was they had three of them. A neighbor of mine had a cousin who was a federal attorney, and he asked if I was interested in looking into it. I said fine, and so we end up getting three of these things. A light is coming on instead of something rolling. It has skill. So it’s lights that are going around. Then they finally stop, and the different colors that you see were—elephants were gray. It had an elephant instead of whatever they had before, and instead of pulling it, you’d push a button. Then the bartender could put any number of games on it for you. Then you push the button, and you’d pay the guy. If you wanted ten things, and you wanted a nickel machine, you gave him fifty cents. Then any games that were left over, you’d get paid at a nickel a piece. You could make it a dollar, ten dollars, a hundred dollars, whatever.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

Now, so when I got the things open, one of them had a complete circuit diagram. I didn’t have to trail all the wires. I also found one of them that wasn’t connected up, so that when you pushed the button it didn’t do anything, didn’t operate. I closed that up to make sure that that also worked. When I told that to the owner, who was at the hearing, he offered me a job at that time, and I considered going to work, you know, but I said no, I don’t want to be doing that kind of work.

Vardalas:

What did you have to report back on these machines?

Hang:

To show that everything that the prosecuting attorney asked me on the device, I would answer a certain way. He would ask me the same question on a slot machine, a gambling device, which they got from the Elks Club next door, from Danville, Illinois. Why? Danville had a federal court—there wasn’t a federal court in Champaign. There’s one at Urbana. So we went over there, and this is not a jury trial. It was with a judge.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

So I would answer it the same way as I answered it for the other.

Vardalas:

This was to establish that this was a gambling machine?

Hang:

Yes, and we took that in there when the state troopers weren’t around. The federal marshal had to get it over there without the state police being there. Why? The state—the federal had charges, and they got paid for it to—for the gambling device. It’s the states that don’t want them.

Vardalas:

I see. So how did this go to the Supreme Court? What was the issue? Why did it go all the way to the Supreme Court?

Hang:

Well, you had to go through every part of the thing. For instance, these springs wouldn’t end up at the same place, so there was different energy each time there. When you went ahead and rotated the switch, there were different amounts of energy there. The motor was an induction motor, a capacity-driven motor, so the speed would vary with load. You couldn’t tell why, with how the lights were, as to where they were on the system because the same thing could come up at different times.

Vardalas:

I see.

Hang:

They had no way of knowing that pushing the button to operate the thing, what would come up.

Vardalas:

So you’re saying there was absolutely no way they still could be using this--

Hang:

[interposing] No skill to it.

Vardalas:

Totally random.

Hang:

Yeah.

Vardalas:

And that was the issue.

Hang:

That was the issue. At a recent Illinois Society of Professional Engineers meeting, we heard a fellow talk about laws and prosecution and so forth. He said that very, very few things that we do get into the Supreme Court.

Vardalas:

This one did.


Hang:

Yes. It went in the first time, and it was stuck.

Vardalas:

What side did people come down on? What was the final ruling?

Hang:

The final ruling? That it was a gambling device.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Here at the local court. Then it went to the appellate, and then on; the State Supreme and then on to the federal Supreme.

Vardalas:

And the Supreme Court also said it was a gambling machine?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Interesting.

Hang:

One thing. When the judge asked me, what’s your qualification, the defense says we’ll accept Professor Hang as being qualified. I said I don’t accept that. I will not do that. I will not agree to do that. I will go ahead and tell you what my qualifications are.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

And I went through what I did and so forth, and that I got a license and so forth, and all of the other things; what I could practice in, anything I was competent in. Why? Because he had a technician that he used, and that guy wasn’t qualified to rebut what I said.

Vardalas:

Okay, so you made sure you established your qualifications.

Hang:

That’s right. I learned right off the bat that that’s what you did.

AIEE

Vardalas:

Okay, I see. Let’s just end up now with two topics, and we’ll finish. One is the IEEE section, AIEE. You ran that. You were an executive for the AIEE section at one point?

Hang:

Well, I was a student member here in ’41.

Vardalas:

You were a student member in ’41?

Hang:

Yes. Then when I went to GE, I became a member there of the national.

Vardalas:

So you’ve been a member from the very beginning.

Hang:

That’s right.

Vardalas:

How did you get involved in executive activity when you came here?

Hang:

The moment I got here, we got to—well, all of the faculty had been presidents, vice-presidents, directors, and so forth. Any new blood—let’s bleed it.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

Then that was it. It wasn’t very long, and I was Chair.

Vardalas:

Of the Central Illinois section?

Hang:

That’s right. And I also as a student was Chair of Eta Kappa Nu.

Vardalas:

You were, okay.

Hang:

Yes. And not only that; I ended up getting Ellery Paine in as an honorary member, and I did it all in one semester.

Vardalas:

Ellery?

Hang:

Paine, who was the department head when I was—he started here in 1921.

Vardalas:

And you got him into—a member in AIEE or--

Hang:

Eta Kappa Nu.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

In 1941.

Vardalas:

You were also running the Illinois Central section for a while.

Hang:

Yes, and I was a student member here in the student chapter of AIEE.

Vardalas:

Was it a very active section when you were Chair?

Hang:

It was Central Illinois, but it was a two, two and a half hour drive from Springfield, which is 90 miles. It was more than 90 then because you went from town to town.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

There was a good group there that was interested from Sangamo Electric and whatever else was there. So I set up a satellite, and with the satellite I took John Bardeen over. He just had come in, and I got to know him. He went with me. I drove him in my 1951 Chevy.

Vardalas:

To the Springfield meeting?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

I see.

Hang:

I took him to the Springfield meeting, so we talked on the way over and the way back.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

I asked him then on the way back, John—and prior to that, he had just invented the transistor. He wasn’t a Nobel Laureate. That came a few years later. I asked him, what frequency spectrum do you expect out of this transistor? I could see its value right away. Why? When I was at GE, I worked on another device there that I didn’t tell you about. That was a spark source for a spectrographic analysis. You could tell by seeing the light waves from the spark what was in there.

Vardalas:

Okay. How did this relate now to what the--

Hang:

[interposing] So he says what’s the range? He says well, you’ll see ordinarily at maybe at the most, the low end of the AM band, which is a half megacycle.

Vardalas:

What about the high end? What did he say about the high end?

Hang:

Well, now were up in the tetra.

Vardalas:

So the Illinois Central section was quite active when you were here, and the membership was a very dynamic, active group.

Hang:

Yeah, and you’ve noticed that because--

Vardalas:

[interposing] Now you’ve given me all these; you showed me this stuff. Tell me about these folders you gave me, these files. These are files from the section?

Hang:

Yeah, and you can have them.

Vardalas:

Thank you so much. And these are--

Hang:

[interposing] No, that one’s mine.

Vardalas:

This one’s yours?

Hang:

Yes, you don’t need this one.

Vardalas:

So this covers 1956 communications?

Hang:

Yeah, but somewhere in the office, maybe there are others. When you move from one office to another, somebody else helps you, and stuff gets put into a box.

Vardalas:

Because they put all your things in the archives now, and so getting access--

Hang:

[interposing] No, it was in my office on the floor, on the wall, outside.

Vardalas:

Are they still there?

Hang:

Yes, but I need to be able to get in. I’ll try. I’ll look because I want to. I go ahead and go to my office, which if they had laid it on its side, I’d have had more space because it’s 14 feet tall and only about eight--

Vardalas:

[interposing] Have you thought of asking Nenad to go with you so you could pick out files related to your activities in IEEE?

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

Because these we could scan and make archives of this and make it available.

Hang:

That’s right.

Vardalas:

If you’d do that, yes, okay.

Hang:

And that tells you that I was listed in there on some of it.

Vardalas:

Okay.

Hang:

But all through that time, I won’t have it unless I was on the Board.

Reflection

Vardalas:

Okay, all right. It’s now 12:00, so we should wind up very quickly. Let me finish with this. As an engineer, you’ve had seventy-plus years. It’s been a long career you’ve had.

Hang:

Yes.

Vardalas:

How would you like to be remembered as an engineer? Have you thought about that?

Hang:

I had several students that I called adopted sons. I have one whose dad and mother are here. He’s my fifth adopted son. Why? They had six boys and a girl. The fourth boy was in my class. Why? Because his dad told him to take it.

Vardalas:

Yes..

Hang:

The next semester after he had my class, he goes in and he has a pinball machine business. He’s making more money than his dad was as a full professor.

Vardalas:

So I gather you’re very proud of your students.

Hang:

That’s right. As a matter of fact, I read a letter just the other day that I got across with this stuff. It was with, Roger Dupes. It was a girl who was a secretary who I would take tea to. I would make tea in a pot, and I would pass it around at certain times, and those that wanted good tea—one bag would give me a—boiling hot water for five minutes steeping. It was a good mild-tasting tea.

Vardalas:

Right.

Hang:

And so she wrote me a letter. She had married one of my students.

Vardalas:

Students?

Hang:

Yeah. Now you can get a copy of his book if you ask him.

Vardalas:

I will ask him, yes.

Hang:

Or I can e-mail you the address, and it gives you all the data.

Vardalas:

Yeah, you did that. Thank you. You sent me that.

Hang:

Did I?

Vardalas:

Yes. So you’re very proud of all the students.

Hang:

You’re right.

Vardalas:

How did you see yourself as an educator? What kind of teacher do you think you were?

Hang:

Well, I wasn’t the best, but I was different. I wasn’t afraid to go ahead and assign a project that I couldn’t work, and I find others that have done the same. And you tell them ahead of time you can’t do it. They’ll work their butts off for you. The next thing you know, Bill comes up. He tells me how to go ahead and take care of this one equation I wasn’t quite sure about. He knew more mathematics. Once I saw that, I said oh, my God, it’s so simple.

Vardalas:

I see. So that way you were different.

Hang:

Yeah. I would put kids to the board before an exam, find out what they knew and what they didn’t know and so forth. And then sometimes on a final, I would get them—half the class to the board, half in another room by themselves taking a written part. Well, they didn’t like it when somebody else could see what they were doing. I didn’t mind them looking because if they caught on, that told me how much more they knew.

Vardalas:

I see, interesting.

Hang:

So you could judge it that way.

Vardalas:

Yes.

Hang:

The comments that you got from them and whatnot, because the first day I’d go in a class, what questions do we have? Sometimes that’s the whole day, we spent on that.

Vardalas:

Yeah.

Hang:

But the reason? Because it was worthwhile.

Vardalas:

Yeah, okay, interesting. Well, it’s been a fascinating interview. Uh, thank you so much for agreeing to do this.

Hang:

That’s quite all right.