Tag Archives: Robert Lawrence Hess

Robert L. Hess- History of Research, Service and Teaching Contributions to the University of Michigan

Dr. Robert Lawrence HessMemorandum to File: Nov. 24, 1986

Subject: Robert L. Hess’s History of Research, Service and Teaching Contributions to the University of Michigan.

In 1945, Professor Hess received two B.S.E. degrees from the University of Michigan in less than a 3 year period, one in Engineering Mathematics and the other in Engineering Mechanics after which he served as an Engineering Officer in the U.S. Navy. Hess served as junior Division officer, main engines division, on a heavy cruiser at sea and later as auxiliary Division officer on a pair of light escort carriers.

Upon release from active World War II service he returned to Ann Arbor, the home of his wife, Gretchen R. (REAM) Hess. On a visit to the Engineering Mechanics office he was hired as a full-time Instructor and was asked to undertake a research project by Prof. J. Ormandroyd. The project became the basis of his Doctorial Thesis, “The Dynamics of Ship’s Structures, including Shear Deformations”. This work was directed by Professor Ormandroyd and became one of the first major engineering works to be programmed for the ENIAC (that being done by the David Taylor Model Basin, Dept. of the Navy). During the three years of full time teaching as an Instructor, (Dr.) Hess served in the U.S. Naval Ready Reserve and spent his training periods at the Model Basin. He was honored by being requested to provide 40 hours of lectures at the Model Basin on advanced mathematics and dynamics for the scientific staff of the U.S. Navy when he was 24 years old.

Professor Hess was recruited by the Bell Telephone Laboratories and joined BTL, upon completion of his doctorate, as a Member of the Technical Staff in the fall of 1949, being assigned to a ‘heavy-tube’ Development Group. The many research projects he participated in included the assignment to undertake the development of a pilot line for the production of both the material for and the devices known as ‘point-contact’, type A transistors.(This was before the courts ordered BTL to place the technology on the market and was thus a unique endeavor for Dr. Hess upon which several of the newly licensed companies partly based their developments.) It was typical of him to have the breadth of both interest and scientific knowledge that brought him such a coveted assignment and also success in it. He developed new techniques of crystal growing and zone-purifying as well as a novel method of doping the contact area using microwave techniques to created photo-sensitive transistors.

In his third year at BTL Dean G.G. Brown called him with an unsolicited invitation to return to the U. of M. as an Assistant Prof. of Chemical and Metallurgical Eng. and Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics and to also take on a Phoenix Project dealing with the atomic structure of glass. Dean Brown gave Prof. Hess the challenge of creating a new course in structure of glass and ceramics. At the end of his third year Hess was promoted to Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics and left the Chem. Met. Dept. He undertook the reactivation of the Engineering Mechanics Department’s Photo-Elasticity Lab. and generated a course for it as well as teaching in the areas of elasticity and dynamics.

In about 1957, Vice President and Dean of Faculties, Prof. M. Niehus asked Prof. Hess to join an elite committee of engineers and scientists to oversee the work of the Willow Run Laboratories which at that time was experiencing troubled relationships with the Department of the Army, its prime source of support. In Jan. 1958 Dean Niehuss requested that Hess take leave of his teaching and consulting practice and join a new management team, headed by Prof. J.A. Boyd (now Chairman of Harris Corp.) to salvage and redirect the Willow Run Laboratories. Hess was given the specific assignment of Technical Director of Project Michigan, a 4 to $6 million/year program, as well as an Assistant Directorship of WRL. In addition Hess became the Head of the Applied Research Group of the Labs, which at that time had just demonstrated the MASER and a year prior to the demonstration of the Ruby LASER. Hess was instrumental in extending optical data processing to the field of automatic photo-interpretation. In March of 1958 Dean Attwood informed Hess of the approval of his promotion to full Professorship. ( A promotion which was said to make Hess the youngest full professor in the College’s history up to that time.)

Prof. Hess soon developed a keen ability to manage multiple teams of researchers on topics varying from Information processing, semiconductor development, infrared scanning and synthetic antenna radar. He was able to apply his knowledge of basic physics and mathematics to the tasks as a member of the research teams and also represented them to general officers representing the U. S. Army, and, upon the creation of a Department of Defense to the scientific part of that community. In his unique fashion and with unusual modesty, his term of management, which after three years included the project directorship as well as its technical direction, Hess always put his staff in the foreground and sacrificed personal fame in the process. Never-the-less upon his decision to return to teaching, the Department of the Army awarded Prof. Hess with THE OUTSTANDING CIVILIAN SERVICE AWARD and METAL the inscription of which read in part  ‘Hess succeeded in establishing and maintaining the University of Michigan as the leading free world authority in surveillance technology. His own proven scientific talent and professional imagination contributed additionally to the accomplishments of a broad team of scientists and technicians. The rare combination of skill, foresight and devotion to country….’.

During the years of 1964 and 1965, Hess served as the personal representative of the U.S. Army’s Assist. Chief of Staff for Intelligence and lead teams of scientists though a comprehensive field review of the Army’s Combat Surveillance capabilities both in Europe and in Korea. The Army implemented over 70% of his technical recommendations for the Korean area. In 1965 Professor Hess visited with President H. Hatcher with the view of leaving the Project Michigan assignment and returning to full-time teaching. By that time, the I.S.T. had been created and W.R.L. was part of it and Hess was one of its Directors. President Hatcher, through Prof. Norman, Vice President for Research offered Hess the challenge of using the $10 million original gift from the automobile industry to create the Highway Safety Research Institute. This was a special honor as that gift was reported to have been the largest gift in the University’s history at that time. Upon acceptance, Hess hired a top level ‘internal administrator’ for H.S.R.I. and thus was able to devote his attention to building the staff and its research programs and also to return to teaching which was his first love. With a Regent ally appointed Executive Committee and with the cooperation of dozens of the University’s faculty Hess was able in a few years to build a facility, hire internationally known figures and to build a program of research spanning fields from Law to Medicine and from Engineering to Psychology. His untiring drive established the Institute as the world’ premier institution of its kind and brought not only many millions of research dollars to our campus for the support of researchers, faculty, and graduate students but also enhanced the reputation of the University of Michigan.

During his tenure at H.S.R.I., Hess served as a consultant to the Army’ Science Board where he both chaired and participated in the study of many of the nation’s outstanding technical problems and challenges.

Professor Hess personally undertook two major research studies while teaching a nearly full load and directing the H.S.R.I. These were the review of the complete research findings in the scientific, engineering and medical communities of the experimentation protocols and the same for the area of blunt trauma to the human head and the same for the area of blunt trauma the thorax. In each case an annotated history of the development of the use of the knowledge in regulation was developed and  recommendations were made for future research in the fields. The second of these studies was selected for publication in the S.A.E.’ transactions. Hess served the University by membership on President Nixon’s Highway Safety Advisory Committee and also undertook several overseas services as a Consultant to the Wor1d Hea1th Organization.

Prof Hess resigned his position as Director of U.M.T.R.I. (the successor to H.S.R.I.) and returned to a full time faculty teaching role in January of 1984. Shortly thereafter Hess founded a computer software company, HCCI, which deals in engineering specialty software for a international audience in the forensic engineering area. In keeping with his reputation, he has undertaken the teaching of the Control Systems course, ME461, a new course for him, with vigor and has provided new leadership in its laboratory and course work with several software packages he has written to enhance the depth and breath of the educational experience of the students. These include programs dealing with Fourier techniques, general integration methods, data plotting, frequency analysis, root locus, Nyquist techniques, Myk1lestad and Holzer techniques, matrix iteration techniques, eigenvalue/eigenvector techniques and many others. He also accepted an assignment as the Mechanical Engineering Program Advisor and has written degree-audit software packages now used by the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics department. The implementation of modern techniques allows Professor Hess, as the Advisor, to take a proactive rather than a reactive role in counseling. Similar HCCI software is now being installed in a large engineering college.

Professor Hess’s academic and service accomplishments are outstanding and the respect that he has gained from his peers is only reflective of the credit he has given to them over a total of 37 years of devoted service to the University. In the Pentagon, corporate offices, the classroom and laboratory he has represented the best the University of Michigan could offer its students and country.

Robert Hess retired from active faculty status

Johan Sprague born in Dorset, England in 1501 – my 13th great grandfather

When I received my DNA results from Ancestry.com, I was amazed to see a high percentage of my heritage was attributed to Great Britain.  If Ancestry has my DNA results right, Great Britain is the source of 53% of my heritage. As a little girl, I remember asking many times where my ancestors had come from, and the most common answer I received was, “Germany”.  Indeed, I do have many  German ancestors especially on my mother’s side of the family.  But, here, in this blog on Johan Sprague, I continue my unfolding documentation of my father’s ancestors and  I keep learning about my English/ Irish ancestry!

Johan Sprague was my 13th great grandfather.  Here is a view of how Johan connects to my father, Robert Lawrence Hess:

Johan Sprague (1501 – 1526)
13th great-grandfather
Enos Sprague (1525 – 1554)
son of Johan Sprague
Edward SPRAGUE (1576 – 1614)
son of Tristram SPRAGUE
Anthony William Sprague (1635 – 1719)
son of William Sprague Sr.
Jeremiah Sprague (1682 – 1759)
son of Anthony William Sprague
Knight Sprague (1711 – 1804)
son of Jeremiah Sprague
Anthony Sprague (1742 – 1831)
son of Knight Sprague
Anthony Sprague Jr (1766 – 1850)
son of Anthony SPRAGUE
Mary “Polly” Sprague (1792 – 1852)
daughter of Anthony Sprague Jr
John Kellogg Bishop (1827 – 1906)
son of Mary “Polly” Sprague
Dorothy (Dora) Bishop (1857 – 1904)
daughter of John Kellogg Bishop
George Kellogg (W) Hess Sr. (1891 – 1969)
son of Dorothy (Dora) Bishop
Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)
son of George Kellogg (W) Hess Sr.
Now, I am going to share a link from a writing project that was done on the genealogy of the Sprague’s.  I am so very grateful for this story, but, is it only historical fiction?  Is it just a tall tale? I have made my own conclusion, but I will let you make your own decision!
  1.  1.0 1.1 Family History – The First Three Generations of Sprague’s Family. Written by students of International Training and Education Center, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Ms. Kelly Norman, teacher. It is not clear whether this unsourced material is based on research of the actual lives of persons, or whether it is historical fiction intended to illustrate the religion, politics, and health issues of the eras in which they lived. http://rubikgroup.weebly.com/1/post/2013/10/family-history-the-first-three-generations-of-spragues-family.html. Accessed June 7, 2015.

” On a bitter cold day in 1501, Johan Sprague was born in Dorset, England in a Catholic family. From 1512 to 1516, he was studied in a church near his house, but deep down in his heart, he did not believe in Catholicism. By midsummer in 1516, he was married Marie – a pastor’s daughter in the church who taught him. Nine years later, in 1525, they was has a first son – named Enos Sprague. In 1527, they had twins girls, Ava and Mia, but Ava died when she was two years old because of influenza. Three years later, when Mia was five years old, many people in their village got and died of smallpox, and she also got it, she survived but sadly it made her blind. In 1534, Henry VIII dissolved England’s monasteries because Pope did not allow him to divorces his first wife. “After Henry’s death, England tilted toward Calvinist-infused Protestantism during Edward VI’s six-year reign”[1]. Many evangelical churches springing up, Johan Sprague and his family left Catholicism and became Protestant, but not much people in the village knew about that. He really found his faith in Protestantism. Unfortunately, after Edward died, Mary I (also known as “Bloody Mary”) was crowned, people endured five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I, she was beheaded and burned many Protestants, nearly 300 Protestants were burned to death. Governments and Catholics had no evidence of Sprague family were Protestants, therefore they can safe. Unfortunately, in 1556, Sunday morning, Sprague family were be burned at their house, Johan, Marie, Mia and Enos’s children all dead, just Enos and his wife can alive, the neighbors around said it was just an accident, but someone believe that Catholics did.”

Sadly, if this story is true, Johan had a life cut short by heresy laws that disallowed Protestant beliefs. Henry the VIII had allowed Protestant beliefs in order that he may divorce his wife.   But, when Queen Mary I (or “Bloody Mary” ) came to power she had nearly 300 persons killed in her attempt to restore the Catholic Church and rid it of Protestants. If the story above is true, my 13th great grandfather, Johan and most of his family came to a horrible violent death.  However, Johann may have never had the twin girls referenced and he may have died at the age of 26 in 1526 rather that 1556 as this story sites.
Additional research
Note:  Even though Johan’s death date is first listed as 1526 in this research, it is also within the same research document listed as 1556.  Ugh…more confusion!
If his death date was really 1526, it makes the story of the twin girls and Johan’s death for heresy less likely! 
Watch for more blogs on the Sprague family coming soon!  I would be very grateful for any information you might wish to share on my family roots!

Robert de Montel Hess 1882-1907

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When Robert De Montel Hess was born on April 8, 1882, in Benton Harbor, Berrien Co., Michigan, his father, Juan Hess, was 31 and his mother, Dorothy (Dora Bishop), was 25.

Robert de Montel and my grandfather, George Kellogg Hess, Sr. were brothers. They had two other siblings (also children of Juan and Dora) that had died as very young children.  According to Michigan death records these two Hess children died in 1880 of diphtheria.  They were Hattie (4 years old) and Perry Hess (2 years old).

Hattie and Perry Hess death records

I do not know why an obituary for Juan Hess written many years later on January 15, 1929, states that he only had 2 sons.  Perhaps, it was the “fashion” at the time not to mention children who died in their youth?

This is the 1929 obituary (below)  for Juan Hess (father of Robert de Montel Hess)

death of Juan Hess from Jan. 1929 obit

I chose to write this blog because I was intrigued that Robert de Montel may have been a namesake for my own father. There were 2 generations of the Hess family that had a child “George” and a child “Robert”.  My father was Robert Lawrence Hess and his brother was George K. Hess, Jr.  My father did not recall much about his Uncle Robert de Montel Hess, (the subject of this blog), because his uncle had been deceased for many years before my father was born in 1924. Even so, my father did believe that this was the relative that may have inspired the name “Robert.”  If this is true, it also makes me wonder why my father was called only by his middle name “Larry” (short for Lawrence) as a child.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Quick reference review of the names George and Robert:

Juan Hess and Dora Bishop’s children included  Robert de Montel Hess and George Kellogg Hess, Sr.

George Kellogg Hess , Sr. and his wife Henrietta Spruhan then had George Kellogg Hess, Jr. and Robert Lawrence Hess.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

The deaths of Hattie and Perry had happened before my Grandfather’s birth in September of 1891.  But, sadly, my grandfather George Kellogg Hess, Sr. would know death of loved ones (other than these two older siblings) again soon being only 13 years old when his mother, Dora Bishop Hess, died and only 15 years old when his only remaining brother, Robert de Montel Hess, died.

Robert de Montel Hess, married Alice Susanne King on October 19, 1904, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. They had one child during their marriage. He died on January 18, 1907, in Berrien, Michigan, at the age of 24 from a liver abscess due to appendicitis.  He was buried in Berrien County, Michigan.  As stated, his death, was in part attributed to appendicitis.  This is interesting to me as my father had a burst appendix at the age of 5 years old and made a rather amazing recovery.

At the time Robert’s marriage to Alice he was 22 years old.  More surprising, is the fact that Alice was a mere 16 years old when they wed.  This would make Alice only 19 years old when she became a widow.  There seems to be a date conflict.  All census records indicate that Alice was born in 1888.  However, the News article pictured below, states that she was a graduate of Benton Harbor College in 1904-shocking considering that she was only 16???  Or…was someone trying to make Alice “older” than she really was??

So, Robert’s mother Dora died on October 15, 1904.  He married Alice 4 days after his mother’s death on October 19, 1904.

22 Oct. 1924 Robert Hess marries Alice King 20 years ago

https://books.google.com/books?id=E8VRAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=alice+king+and+hess+higbee&source=bl&ots=I9_szOmwoV&sig=r7SPS7YZ041R2_4S-kQBVstEjSE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwid0bvWzdzUAhVJ7GMKHemzAZoQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=alice%20king%20and%20hess%20higbee&f=false

The news photo below is from 8 May 1929 – It highlights events from”25 years ago” and tells how Mrs. Juan Hess and son Robert (a college senior) entertained the Juniors at the Hess farm.  Printed in 8 May 1929 in the News Palladium.  This party took place 6 months before the wedding of Robert and Alice and 6 months before Dora’s death.  08 May 1929. 25 years ago Mrs. Juan Hess and son Robert

 

The child born to the marriage of Robert de Montel Hess and Alice King Hess was Hattie Lenore Hess.  (Her first name being the same as Robert’s sister who had perished as a child).  She was born on 17 September 1905.

Robert de Montel did not live long enough to be part of the 1910 census.  Alice is in the 1910 census living with her parents in Michigan and her 4 year old daughter who is now going by her middle name  Hattie “Lenore” Hess.  In 1910, Alice states that she is a sales lady in a furniture store in Benton Harbor.  Then, also in 1910, Alice would go on to marry a man named Harlow A. Hansley and live in Los Angeles.  She died in 1957 in Los Angeles, CA. Her daughter Hattie Lenore Hess had been living with her mother and step-father in Los Angeles.

In the 1920 census, Alice and Harlow are still in Los Angeles with Alice’s daughter who is now 14 years old and using the name  “Lenora”.

Please write and let me know if you have any other information on Robert de Montel Hess or the Hess family!

 

Military career of Dr. Robert L. Hess

My father, Robert Lawrence Hess, was born on 29 September 1924 in Orange, New Jersey. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  He was in sea service during WWII.  Here are some details of his service in the Navy.

Robert Hess attended the V-12 (victory 12 Navy College Training) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This quote is from the link below, “The purpose of the V-12 program was to generate a large number of officers for both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to meet the demands of World War II, far beyond that turned out annually by the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and standing U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School to that point.” program. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-12_Navy_College_Training_Program

In 1945, my father received 2 BSE degrees from the University of Michigan which he had earned in under 3 years time.  One degree was in Engineering Mechanics and the other one in Engineering Mathematics.

He went  on to officer training at Columbia University, New York.

He served as a Junior Division Officer, Main Engines Division, on a heavy cruiser called the USS Oregon City. His rank was Ensign.

Later, he served as an auxiliary Division officer on a pair of light escort carriers the USS Kula Gulf CVE-108 and the USS Manila Bay CVE-12

 

I believe that he received an American Theatre ribbon and a Victory Ribbon WWII.  As I understand it, the American Theatre described the Navy’s desire to secure the home land from the Axis powers.

Other military work:

In 1957 my father was given the title of Technical Director of Project Michigan.  He was instrumental in extending optical data processing to the field of automatic photo-interpretation.  He was able to apply his knowledge of physics and mathematics to research teams who represented them to general officers of the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense. The Department of the Army awarded him the Outstanding Civilian Service Award and Metal.

In 1964-1965 my father was the personal representative of the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff for Intelligence and led teams of scientists through a comprehensive field review of the Army’s Combat Surveillance capabilities both in Europe and Korea.  The Army implemented over 70% of this technical recommendations for the Korea area.

My father would also become a civilian consultant to the Secretary of the Army, ASA (R&D), Chief of Staff, and the Chief of Research and Development to advise on scientific and related matters to the Army.

1943 Portrait photo in US Navy uniform

Robert Hess ensign winter series 2with text Robert in Navy Khakiswt hess given army award

 

Robert Hess U.S. Oregon City