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David Lynch interview

We asked authors, of our esteemed IET eBook publications, a series of 10 questions ranging from their career, body of work, challenges – to their ideas on how to get kids interested in math and science. Below you can read honest answers as the authors give an exclusive glimpse into their wide ranging thoughts.

Biography

Photo of David Lynch Jr. David Lynch, Jr. was involved in almost every stealth program as technical contributor, program manager and business unit leader including LPIR, Have Blue, F-117, Tacit Blue,Sea Shadow, Advanced Cruise Missile, B-2 and many others. 

Mr. Lynch was a technical contributor to dozens of radar, electronic warfare and communications systems. He has been elected a Pioneer of Stealth, a Senior Member of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. 

The author was an inventor, leader or contributor to many world firsts, including manned space flight, telecommunications, digital signal processing, synthetic aperture radar, and stealth. Mr. Lynch was a company officer of General Motors Hughes Electronics. He is currently president of DL Sciences, Inc.

 

1. What factors, passions, preferences, influences, etc. lead you down your current career path? In other words, why do you choose to do what you do and how did you get here?

Most of my early jobs in high school, college and beyond taught me what I didn't want to do.  I am like a ball in a pinball or pachinko machine.  I keep bouncing off the boundaries, obstacle pins and bumpers.  Every so often I go into the jackpot hole.  Almost all the jobs that I had after undergraduate school could be called successful.  

The job where I made the most contributions in technology and leadership, was selected by the flip of a coin in Elk City, Oklahoma in the rain.  I keep trying to do the right thing as I see it and every so often it works out.  All my inventions looked the same at the beginning.  Two were multibillion dollar ideas, the rest were worthless.

 

2. What do you find to be the most interesting or intriguing aspects of your work?

I like to do technical things that are fun and interesting.  Usually they are some combination of science and management.

 

3. Right now our country faces some challenges in getting kids interested in math and science and, as a result, careers such as engineering that depend on both. Do you have any thoughts on how to create a stronger interest in these areas?

I have written a fourth grade math text which weaves a story of a young Roman boy through it and his need for math.  It tries to be less dull than the books I learned from.  The most important requirements for a child who might be drawn into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is curiosity about things and the ability to read well.  

Curiosity is very dangerous but necessary.  I learned to read well in third grade thanks to a nun in parochial school whose only focus was reading.  Once you can read well the world is open to you.  Less important but still valuable is to see some adult who is in STEM and appears to be heroic (no matter how flawed you may ultimately see them).  

My hero was a hard drinking mechanical engineer-entrepreneur who stowed away on a ship to Europe as a teenager.

 

4. What is the primary focus of your current work?

Spacecraft architecture and persistent surveillance.

 

5. What are some of the biggest challenges you face?

Advancing age, everything I do takes longer.

 

6. What have been some of your most rewarding professional experiences?

Seeing my invention of programmable signal processors (my first $10 billion idea) become ubiquitous.  Seeing Stealth platforms (my second $10 billion idea) into large scale production.

 

7. Who are your heroes or people you look up to and admire?

My first mentors and my father.

 

8. If you could wake up tomorrow morning knowing one thing that you don't know today, what would it be?

How to make controlled fusion work.

 

9. If you could have any super hero power, what would it be and why?

The ability to transmute elements would do more to change life on earth than any other capability.  Bad things could become inert and good things could be made in abundance.

 

10. Without giving too much away, what do you think is the biggest takeaway from your book?

When I teach stealth, system engineering, radar, air defense, electronic design, etc., I find that most young people don't know what we already know.  My books are to help people in the US not reinvent the wheel repeatedly.