I have reviewed the proposal to recognize the work conducted at the Cruft HighTension Laboratory at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science between 1917 and the mid 1940's and discussed my concerns with the leadership of both the Milestones Sub-Committee and the History Committee.
The Milestone program has traditionally focused on recognizing a technical accomplishment that occurred at a specific time and location that has had significant downstream impact. However, this Milestone Proposal seeks to recognize a place where a set of related technical activity occurred over a few decades. The novelty and significance of the technical activity is not well explained.
While the Cruft HighTension Laboratory likely passes the test of being a historic place, this category does not currently exist within the IEEE Milestone program. After extensive discussion and consultation with the History Committee and Milestone Subcommittee leadership, I recommend that the proposal be held until the results of a Milestone program review have been received later this year. At that point, we will let the proposers know how to proceed.
Last year I exchanged a few e-mails with Robert Colburn and agreed to serve as Advocate; he gave me the address of Gilmore Cooke, the presenter.
I contacted Gilmore Cooke asking for clarifications and he told me he was aware more information, references and documents were needed. I've not seen any of them yet.
Anyway, this presentation is to recognize an Institution -not a project or a work, which is supposed to have played an important role during many years. As Dave pointed out, it doesn't quite fit the Milestone model.
In the proposed citation the importance of the laboratory during the two world wars is emphasized. We all know that many technological and scientific advancement took place during war times, -and that many non-military applications followed. It is in my opinion not at all clear if the IEEE as an international Institute dedicated to Excellence for the Benefit of Humanity will or should award a Milestone recognition to war efforts or military achievements?
Hi Juan. Sorry I did not respond to you earlier because I was thinking. But now I'm ready. You've raised some major issues and yes I will proceed accordingly by modifying the GHN. You're right, the nomination should have addressed the work, the activities, the accomplishments, at the site, not professors nor buildings on campus. Therefore I would like to change the title of this milestone proposal. It is not my intention to include normal university academia teachings as part of this nomination. Instead, I want to make the case for special wartime training for men and women of the arms forces, eg. improved teaching methods, special courses, research work, and so on, those activities covering telegraphy, wireless, electronics, radio, and communications, radar, up to the secret work of the Radio Research Laboratory (1942-1945). Harvard received the first government contract to educate and train military personnel. Different programs were established over the years for radio technicians and naval communications officers. The first 'Radio Training School' was established at Cruft in 1917. I hope to make the case that these programs were good by widened the scope and prestige of electronics and communications. Technology benefitted. Good jobs were created.
Anyway, please accept this as a partial response. The revised proposal should come out in a few days and I look forward to future comments.