Walter L. Elden
Walter L Elden
(Retired) IEEE Life Senior Member and Life Member of the Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT)
Joined OEC on 07/08/2009
Biography

Walter Elden, P.E. was born, raised and educated in Miami, Florida. He graduated from high school in 1950 with a music scholarship from the University of Miami, where he began to pursue a career as a music conductor, playing violin in the symphony and singing in the mixed chorus. With the outbreak of the Korean War, he enlisted in the US Navy in 1951, where he received extensive electronics training in radio, electronics, communications and sonar.

He spent most of his 4 year Navy career in Airborne Squadron VX-1, which was devoted to Anti-Submarine Warfare Development, as an Aviations Electronics Technician. In this capacity, he maintained all of the squadron's IFF, Loran and Radar Altimeter equipments on a variety of aircraft (TBF Torpedo Bomber, B17 Bomber, Corsair, P2V, jets and Blimps). Three of the newest Grumman S2-F twin-engine anti-submarine hunter-killer prototype planes were flight tested in his squadron. On one of his assignments, he assisted a Raytheon Field Test Engineer from Waltham, Mass, install and test a new APN-22 Radar Altimeter in the squadron's aircraft and blimps. Working with Engineer Frankie Lane, convinced him that he wanted to become an engineer too.

Upon discharge from the Navy in 1955, with the GI Bill he attended and graduated from the University of Florida in 1958 in 3 years with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree (with Honors). At Florida, he was inducted into the Sigma Tau Engineering Honorary and as student, he played violin in the symphony and sang in the mixed chorus. After graduation, he began his engineering career with the Martin Co., in Orlando, Florida, where he met and married his current wife, Anna Marie Walsh Elden, previously of Pittsburgh, PA. They adopted a daughter, Marianne . In 1962, while working full time, he obtained a MSEE degree from the University of Houston and moved to Orlando, Florida to work for Dynatronics, Inc, the developer of the HICAT PCM System. During his 46 year electronics career, his work has taken him to nearly every state in the US, plus England, France, W. Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Hawaii and Japan.

His first engineering assignment out of college was as the System Engineer responsible for the specification, development, installation and operation of the Airborne Telemetry Signal Conditioning equipment ( Photo A , Photo B and Photo C ) flown on-board the Pershing Intermediate Ballistic Missile test vehicles. Later, these were used for the Apollo program. Subsequent assignments were with Dresser Electronics (Houston, TX), Dynatronics, Inc. (Orlando, Fl) , Martin Marietta (Orlando, FL), Honeywell Communications (St. Petersburg, Fl), Martin Marietta (Orlando), NCR (Columbia, SC), and Harris Corp (Melbourne, Fl), from which he retired as a Staff Systems Engineer in 1997 , and a Registered Professional Engineer (Florida). During one period, he consulted and was an Expert Witness for the Plaintiffs in a multiple death fire, which killed 2 small children, resulting in their parents winning their suit.

In his many engineering assignments, which included product development, principal investigator, system engineer, program manager and section head, Mr. Elden conducted studies, developed proposals, and performed product/equipment/system designs of various telemetry, signal conditioning, data acquisition, voice/data communications, circuit/packet switching, system and technical control, computer architecture, data communications/packet switching standards, encryption, local area networking, network management, electronic messaging (E-Mail) and integrated voice/data/video computer networking. In his last major assignment, Mr. Elden was the System Architect for the Harris Corp. team's $1 Billion proposal for the Department of Defense's Defense Messaging System (DMS) . This large, high performance system required a design which would support over 2,000,000 users of secure E-Mail (voice, data, video, image), to be deployed on a world-wide basis, at small, medium and large sized bases, and be used by all members of the Military Services and Federal Agencies.

He chaired one of the subcommittees of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) which developed the 802 Local Area Networking standards and later Chaired the SAE High Speed Data Bus Architecture Task Force developing a new on-board avionics data network standard. At Martin, he devised a new technique for encoding voice while sharing bandwidth for data, which led to a patent disclosure. While with Dynatronics, Inc. in 1965, he was the Project Engineer responsible for proposing, developing, and testing the PCM Data Acquisition System flown onboard an Air Force U2 for gathering research data on High Altitude Clear Air Turbulence (HICAT).

In December of 1972, after being convinced of the need to improve "professionalism and the image and better treatment of engineers in industry practice", and being influenced by the plight of 3 engineers in California who sued their state employer, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System, for "wrongful discharge", in what became known as The BART Case , he formed the first Professional Activities Committees (PAC) in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), in the Orlando, Fl Section. Through this initiative, he caused regular PAC meetings to be held and he, with assistance from others, worked to advance professionalism and ethical practice within his place then of employment, Martin Marietta. At the first PAC Session held at IEEE's SOUTHEASTCON in 1974, which he was the organizer of, he presented five (5) papers on professional subjects and co-authored one technical paper on work done for the Air Force. In 1974, while not required as an engineer practicing in industry, he became a Registered Professional Engineer (Florida), to further strengthen his professional position as an engineer. When his pro-active professional activities became unacceptable to the Management of Martin Marietta, with a resulting unrestrained pressure being applied upon him to quit advocating them, he "resigned his position under coercion" in August 1974 from Martin Marietta. Later, he wrote articles about his experience of being subjected to "ethical harassment", then the need for IEEE to support ethical engineers in professional, ethical employment jeopardy, and the need to support ethics in the 21st century in IEEE's The INSTITUTE publication.

During his career, he was a guest lecturer at the University of Florida, University of South Carolina and the University of Central Florida on technical and professional/ethical subjects. In 1974 he was awarded the Professional Engineer of the Year by the Orlando, Fl Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and in 1998 the IEEE-USA awarded him a Citation of Honor Award for his work promoting engineering professionalism . He was a member of the IEEE from 1957 (Student) until present (Life Senior Member), serving on its Ethics and Member Conduct Committees (1996-98). In 1977, he served on an Ethics Task Force of the IEEE, which developed proposals, which later formed the IEEE Member Conduct Committee . He has published technical, professional and ethical papers in the IEEE journals/publications . In 1998-2000 he served on the Board of Directors of the National Institute for Engineering Ethics (NIEE) and founded in 1999 and is currently a contributor to the Online Ethics Center's Ethics Help Line.

Since retiring, he has served on the Board of Directors, as an officer and chaired several Committees of his Homeowners Association and designed several WEB pages for community, civic and religious organizations, on a voluntary basis. In the Spring of 2001, Francis Gary Powers, Jr, Founder/Director of the Cold War Museum , invited him to contribute a historical paper on the Air Force's U2 HICAT program , which flew the PCM Data Acquisition System he was Project Engineer for in 1965. He is an avid fisherman and golfer, as is shown in his report on the WEB of playing the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail with his son-in-law, in May 2001.

Mr. Elden served on the Executive Committee of the IEEE Melbourne Section after retirement, where he is chaired the Professional Activities Committee for Engineers (PACE) . He was a guest speaker at a Joint Section/FIT Student Chapter Meeting and discussed the History of IEEE and the Professional Standing of IEEE Members. Mr. Elden reported on some of his researching and writing a publication on these subjects.

During the early Fall of 2002, Mr. Elden conducted an auto tour of 7 major Civil War sites; Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chansellorville, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg and visited the Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta. He made extensive videos of the battlefields, museums and history of these battles. A photo album of a 2001 visit to Gettysburg was created.

A Personal Reflection

During my 46 year career, working in the electronics/communications fields, which spanned from my early military service as an Aviation Electronics Technician in the US Navy for 4 years beginning in 1951, until my retirement as a Staff Systems Engineer from the Harris Corporation in 1997, I feel the HICAT U2 PCM Data Acquisition System project, which this WEB paper is about, was the most fulfilling and satisfying of anything I had done. This was because, as the Project Engineer, I had been given the total reasonability and the freedom to lead the development and testing teams create the PCM equipment. Then I trained Lockheed/Air Force engineers and witnessed HICAT PCM be field flight tested successfully at Edwards Air Force Base on board a U2, a plane that has played such an important role in the defense of this country. Finally, nearly 2 years later to be told that after being flown 285 times around the world for 18 months and operated in conditions of the worst air turbulence possible, the HICAT PCM system flown aboard that particular U2 aircraft, experienced not a single failure in operations. And now, the very U2 plane used in this HICAT research is on display at the Air Force Museum at the Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

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Cite this page: "Walter L. Elden" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 7/8/2009 OEC Accessed: Friday, November 24, 2017 <www.onlineethics.org/Community/CommunityDirectory/WElden.aspx>