Alumnus and NASA astronaut Alan Bean recently passed away, but a piece of his legacy as a lunar visitor resides in the new McKinney Engineering Library.
A small flag that Bean carried with him on a trip to the moon hangs in the library today.
Bean donated the flag-that-went-to-the-moon that is framed and on display at the Engineering Library, with his signature and a small plaque noting Bean’s affiliation with the university. He received his B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955 and was named as a Distinguished Graduate of the College of Engineering in 1970.
Born in the Panhandle town of Wheeler (pop. 1,592) in 1933, Bean graduated from high school in Fort Worth and attended The University of Texas at Austin where he was in the Naval ROTC. He became a fighter pilot in the Navy, and later attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School where he was instructed by his future Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad. Conrad personally selected Bean for the Apollo 12 mission to replace astronaut Clifton Williams, who was killed in an air crash.
Bean was the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 12 mission in November, 1969, which had some anxious moments shortly after launch when an electrical surge caused by a lightning strike created a telemetry problem for the vehicle. Bean was responsible for executing the command that circumvented the problem and prevented the mission from being aborted. Bean and the crew landed on the moon on November 19, and returned safely to Earth on November 24.
Emeritus Engineering Librarian Susan Ardis noticed at one point that that the original signature was faded, and colleagues in the College of Engineering (now Cockrell School of Engineering) contacted Bean, on Susan’s behalf, about a replacement. He graciously sent his signature in a few different sizes so that the best one — the best match for the artistic design of the framing — could be selected.
The flag remained with Engineering Library staff during the construction of the new Engineering Education and Research Center, and now hangs in the new Engineering Library.
The University of Texas Libraries remembers an important scientist, insatiable library user and the source of the above quote — Gerhard Werner.
Gerhard’s first retirement was in 1989 when he left an extensive academic career as a medical doctor, dean, professor and researcher. Gerhard then began his second phase where is spent the next 5 years as Chief of Staff at Veterans Hospital in Pittsburg. His third retirement phase was as Research Scientists with Motorola here in Austin. This is where we all first met Gerhard and as if this wasn’t enough, soon he was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Until his recent death at 90 he studied complex adaptive systems, nonlinear dynamics and the conceptual foundation of neuroscience.
Gerhard’s wide ranging interests meant that he could regularly be seen in almost all of the libraries on campus at one time or another. His most likely venues were Life Science, Engineering, Physics Math Astronomy and PCL.
Gerhard was known and loved as a heavy libraries user. At the time of his death he had over 21 books checked out and 9 items on hold. What’s even more amazing is that he had requested over the last few years he requested that we purchase over 70 titles. We never denied him. Best of all he came to check them all out. What a feat. He was an intellectually and physically active man—he’d walk to any library on campus, carrying a stack of books and he’d always stop to chat.
His wonderful smile is evidenced in all his photos but particularly in the one taken at his 90th birthday.
Here are a few specific memories of Gerhard:
From Nancy Elder—Life Science Librarian
“Probably my favorite memory is of Gerhard popping in with a stack of books, saying he had to stock up for the weekend. I used to tease him about how much he could carry. I think Christmas was his least favorite time, because it would be “too many days” with no library to go to. He would really stock up before the holidays! The most remarkable thing was all of us thought he was “our” library user. Wherever I went on campus, there he would be: at PCL, at PMA, at Engineering and, seemingly, every day at Life Science. Not a week went by that he didn’t have a request for one of our New Books. The lack of a new book shelf at PCL was one of his longtime frustrations.
When it came to requesting books, Gerhard was unfailingly polite and appreciative. Never demanding, always asking with a please, for my birthday, for Christmas or “just one more request”. Once the book came in, he was always here first thing to check it out, sometimes commenting on the quality at return. His interests were so wide-ranging and his appetite so unquenchable, I could never pigeonhole what he would be interested in. As he said himself “I am insatiable when it comes to books.”
I’ve grown accustomed to Gerhard at my door, just waving or stopping by for a comment, several times a week; always cheerful, just happy to find yet another book to read. We will miss him at the door, at the desk to check out books, sharing tales of his conference travel, always on the track of a new author, new book or new idea.
From Susan Ardis—Engineering Librarian
“Gerhard was a wonderful library user. His impish delight in getting a book from the collections or one that we’d ordered specifically for him will always be remembered. What I liked best about Gerhard is that he always recognized library staff on campus–even if we were “out of our uniform location.” We all knew, just from what he borrowed that he had wide ranging interests and epitomized a lifelong learner who values libraries and books.
His smile, jaunty wave and enjoyment of libraries and books will forever remain with me. I saw him on campus two weeks ago getting a book on hold and he smiled and waved. He was one of a kind; he was one of the best.
From Larayne Dallas—Engineering Librarian
Several years ago he called one morning to apologize because he wouldn’t be able to return an overnight book he had checked out 9am. He wanted to explain why “ I had to take my wife to the emergency room.” My response was “Oh Gerhard—don’t worry about it. Return it when you can.” He was in later that morning to return the book and report all was well with his wife and say “you have to be very tough to be old.”
From Molly White —PMA
Molly shares with us two emails from Gerhard that aptly demonstrate why he was so loved by the Libraries.
I received an email from him requesting a book purchase on a Saturday, and replied that I would rush order it on Monday. Here is his reply:
Working on weekends is not good for your health !!!
This is what the Doctor says –
And here is another email:
On account of the libraries being closed today (Sunday), I suffer from withdrawal symptoms…
To alleviate my suffering would you please consider the following:
We do have in PMA the 2000 edition of the book by Didier Sornette, Critical Phenomena in Nature.
There is now a new edition available (2003) of which I currently have a copy on loan through ILL.
The new edition is significantly expanded and has also some new chapters.
Would you consider ordering a copy ? (published by Springer) It would be very helpful.
Susan Ardis is Head Librarian at the McKinney Engineering Library.
As the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office considers opening satellite offices to deal with a surplus of innovation across the country, various congresscritters are lining up to tout their respective districts as the ideal locations for the enterprise.
We’d expect no less from 25th Congressional District Representative Lloyd Doggett, and in making his argument for Austin as a potential future home for processing patents, the congressman pays The University of Texas and the Libraries (noting the McKinney Engineering Library) a tribute in making us part of his case for the project.
From the relevant text (emphasis added):
“Central Texas’s academic research sector is also very strong and would be an excellent partner as the USPTO seeks to enhance public engagement. Of the top 250 R&D universities in the country, the universities in Texas earned the fourth largest number of patents. The University of Texas flagship campus is in Austin and is home to 150 research units, exceeding $642 million in research spending as a Tier 1 research university (2009-2010), and is a major national leader among research universities with the fourth highest level of patent earnings in the country. The University offers the only Master of Technology Commercialization degree program in the world, and UT Austin ranks in the top 10 in both Engineering and Computer Science. UT Austin is also ranked in the Top 10 of research libraries and its McKinney Engineering Library is a PTO depository library.“
It’s nice to know our leaders are paying attention.
Susan Ardis is Head Librarian of the McKinney Engineering Library.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to visit two technical libraries in Hanoi one at Hanoi University of Technology (HUT) and the other at Vietnam National University (VNU)-Hanoi not to be confused with the largest university in Vietnam with the same name in Ho Chi Minh City. Both universities have over 30k students. My visit was in conjunction with an outside consulting project where I’m the library representative on a team charged with planning for a new technical university to be built 60 kilometers outside of Hanoi.
Hanoi is an enormous city with an estimated population of over 6.5 million and I think I may have seen nearly half of them. It was the rainy session so if you think about what Houston would be like on serious steroids then you’d have a sense of the temperature and the humidity. I was told how lucky we were since it didn’t rain much (only 20 minutes one day) during our visit. But it was kind of weepy at times.
Sadly there wasn’t much time to be a tourist but I did see and learn a number of things. Cars and motor bikes are everywhere and only cars need to follow road signs such as the one way sign and no driving on the sidewalks. How do I know? Our driver got a ticket for driving down the wrong way on a one-way street. The motorbikes did not. We saw cars of all types from BMWs to Daewoos to Cadillac Escalades to Fords. I was surprised to be driven around town in new Ford Explorer. Probably the most interesting aspect of transportation was to see a guy with two front doors tied on to his motorbike just zipping down the street.
All these two-stroke engines means the air is quite polluted so nearly everyone on a motor bike is wearing a face mask. I never saw anyone out of the probably 1m motorbikes not wearing a helmet so this must be an enforced law. Hanoi is a city on the go, everyone is moving all the time and building are being build and remodeled all over town at an enormous pace. Everyone has a cell phone and everyone is calling all the time even during meetings with what we were told were “high officials.” Continue reading →
This biography, Reflections of a Soldier and Scholar, by Davis Ford is packed with Earnest Gloyna’s fascinating recollections of farming, public education and family life in the Texas Panhandle during the Depression as well as his experiences in WWII, in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, and, of course, his professional life as a consultant/businessman, professor and dean. Of particular interest is his early life in the Texas Panhandle picking cotton, cutting milo, going to rural schools, learning to type and meeting his future wife, Agnes. Two of these would be helpful in his later life—typing and Agnes.
The story of how he chose graduate school over working for the U.S. Public Health Service after the war is classic Earnest. He decided to go to graduate school instead of joining the Public Heath Service because they would only pay him as a Captain. This decision changed everything—Earnest went to graduate school and became Dr. Gloyna.
Earnest has had an amazing career as an educator and researcher, as a consultant working on environmental problems all over the world, and as a dean. Under his leadership the College of Engineering grew enormously and improved its graduate programs by hiring highly qualified faculty from all over the United States. This faculty would help make the Cockrell School a research powerhouse. Another of his great accomplishments was when he helped the Engineering Library grow from a barely competent collection to one of the best in the US. Continue reading →