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Archives Biographies: Douglas Chick

Biographical information on Douglas Richard Chick including his work on searchlight radar control.

Douglas Richard Chick was born in Hastings, Sussex in 1916. His father was an officer in the Indian army, as a result of which his early education took place in various army garrison schools in the UK and abroad. On returning to England in 1932 he attended Dartford Technical College before commencing a full-time sandwich course at Woolwich Polytechnic and a student apprenticeship with Johnson and Phillips Ltd. in 1933.

After graduating from Woolwich in 1937 with a BSc (Eng) and a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, Chick began work as a Junior Scientific Officer at the Signals Experimental Establishment, Woolwich, engaged in research and development of military radio and radio jamming equipment. He continued to attend Woolwich Polytechnic in his spare time, doing research on gas discharge tubes for an MSc.

On the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the Ministry of Supply working at Bawdsey and Christchurch on radar and low flying aircraft defence equipment. He was promoted to Scientific Officer in 1941 and spent the remainder of the war doing research on various aspects of radar including searchlight radar control, for which he received a Wartime Inventor's Award in 1946, with W S Eastwood and A J H Oxford. He also filed several patent applications for work done during this period. He was promoted again to Senior Scientific Officer in 1946.

In 1946 Chick joined the Research Laboratory of Associated Electrical Industries Ltd at Aldermaston, where he was appointed Section Leader of the Nuclear Physics Section. He later became Group Leader of the newly-formed Nuclear Sciences Group.

In 1963 Chick moved to become Research Manager of the Vickers Company Research Laboratory, Ascot, where he remained until 1966, when he was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the new University of Surrey (formerly Battersea College of Advanced Technology). Having spent most of his life working in industry, Chick was convinced of the importance and mutual advantage of close co-operation between technological universities and industry, and much of his work at Surrey was directed towards promoting this aim.

Among other things he organised collaborative PhD programmes and industrial research fellowships, introduced a compulsory industrial year for undergraduates, and formed an Industrial Electronics Group which made the expertise of his academic staff available to industry on a contract research basis.

Chick married in 1951, was made a Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1952, was awarded an MSc in Physics at Reading University in 1953 and a DSc in Engineering at London University in 1960. Chick died in 1978.