Jul 28, 2014

Widlar's U.S. Air Force Performance Review

Bob Widlar's brother sent me a copy of the Air Force's official review of Bob's service. The actual document should eventually be available at the Computer History Museum. Bob, by all accounts in later years, was a difficult person to manage. So I was anxious to see how he was perceived in such a structured organization. He received superior marks except for the category of "getting along with others" - apparently it wasn't always harmonious.

Below are the written comments:

Strengths: A/2C Widlar is perhaps the outstanding electronics technician assigned to Course ABR33130. His background in the field of electronics as a civilian and his present endeavours in off duty educational pursuits serve to put him "head and shoulders" above the average technicians. He demonstrates a willingness to assist his fellow instructors, who looks to him for guidance on complex electronics problems. Airman Widlar is not satisfied with mediocrity in his efforts and constantly strives for perfection. He has an above average ability to use clear concise words to express himself.
Recommended Improvement Areas: Airman Widlar, in the past, has tended to dramatize his frustrations at inefficiencies that exist, to a point that he creates an impression of immaturity. He has improved greatly in this area, toning down his approach to problems, and has evidenced a willingness to accept that which he cannot control. No further recurrence of this comment are anticipated.
Facts and Specific Achievements: Airman Widlar was assigned to the Nuclear Weapons Branch 28 October 1958. On graduation from Instructor Training School he was assigned as an instructor in the electronic blocks of Course ABR33130A. The critique comments from the classes he taught were full of praise for the outstanding manner in which he presented the course material and expressed gratitude for the extra effort that he expended in assisting the weaker students. Due to his electronics background and outstanding knowledge, he was assigned duty as a course writer. He has produced clear, concise work which has required a minimum amount of editing. He has devoted a great deal of time in working out solutions for problem areas in the course and submitting suggestions on methods of presenting technical material. In this vein, he revised, in part, the method of teaching in the electronic phases by producing simplified schematics and developmental schematics with the text material. This has aided our new instructors a great deal in presenting this material. Some of the material he has provided required original effort. With a minimum of assistance, Airman Widlar produced training projects on the MC 627/628 and the T-187, although no adequate reference material other than schematics and test procedures were available. His efforts were commended by the Sandia Corporation Representative, Mr. Mark Elich, as being outstanding. Airman Widlar is now preparing an "In Service Training Course" for the Nuclear Weapons Branch, on transistors. Adequate technical material was not found on base. He, on his own volition, went to the Denver Public Library to accomplish the necessary research.
Airman Widlar has accomplished more in the way of self-improvement than any airman I have had the occasion to meet. Since entering the service he has acquired 26 semester hours of college credit. He is at present taking 16 semester hours during off duty time at Colorado University. In accomplishing this, he has never permitted his job performance to go below a superior level. Airman Widlar has also been instrumental in initiating and accomplishing the draft work on many visual training aids used in Course ABR33130. These have proven superior for use in this course to those which were commercially procured.
Suggested Assignments: Airman Widlar can be most effectively used by the Air Force in his present assignment. Should he desire, at the end of enlistment, to make the Air Force a career, I recommend that he be given further training by the Air Force and also that he be assigned to ARDC as a scientific aide.

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