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October 20, 1967 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY"

THE MICHIGAN DAILY PAGE SEVEN

s_:

Con ductron:

(Continued from Page 1)
Meanwhile Conductron has also
accepted $39,000 in business from
the University, including a $35,000
project in 1965. In this job Con-
ductron tested radar absorbers
(devices for converting electro-
magnetic energy or radar waves
to heat).
In the project, the University
had purchased the absorbers for
the U.S. Air Force. The Univer-
sity then sub-contracted Conduc-
tron' to test the absorbers. Some
of the absorbers had been pur-
chased from Conductron by the
University, so Conductron ulti-
mately was testing some of its
own products.
"I don't think there was a con-
flict of interest here," says Vice-
President Norman. "My philosophy
in these situations has always been
that the best way to avoid con-
flict is to shine the light on the
situation. That is, everyone con-
'erned such as purchasing agents

should be aware of the relation-
ships."
"Of course occasionally we have
to tell people to shed some out-
side connections - such as when
professors take too many different
advisory roles - but I don't think
the Conductron situation has been
a conflict."
And Dean Gordon Van Wylen
of the Engineering school says, "I
really don't know anything at all
about the situation I've never
looked into it. We're trying to run
a clean show here, while keeping
in mind diverse responsibilities."
And Siegel says, "Nobody ever
raised any questions. General
Motors buys from Ford, and
there's nothing wrong with that.
One of the advantages of Con-
ductron's spin-off status is that it
can easily keep abreast of the
latest technical developments in
the University research world.
"There were curious parallel de-
velopments between what was
going on in University research

Industrial Spinoff
and what Conduction was market- from underground explosions dur- officer for two years at the Uni-
ing. In essence Conductron would ing oil explorations. versity WRL (59-61)."
learn about hot new research here, But Siegel says, "Conductron University officials say they were
then steal the professors away- discovered the techniques first, we not dismayed by this exodus of
or at least the techniques-and did it first." talent: "The University is a pro-
then market the idea." Nonetheless Norman says that ducer of trained people, the ma-
For example Norman points out "Now we simply say to our (Uni- jority of which it expects to move

of

'U,

Technology

Conductron's headquarters are on Plymouth Rd. near North Campus.

"The University had done pioneer
work in the: field of detection of
underground explosions. Conduc-
tron went ahead and applied the
techniques for a commercial de-
vice used for interpreting data

Vivian at Conductron

By NEAL BRUSS
Conductron's best known em-
ploye has probably been Weston E.
Vivian, the firm's Vice-President
for Engineering from its inception
In 1960 to 1965.
Vivian was Michigan's 2nd dis-
strict Democratic Congressman
during 1965-66. He credits his Con-
ductron job with making his polit-
ical career financially possible.
Vivian has extensive experience
in military research. From 1949
through 1953 Vivian worked on

BOMARC, a joint missile project
between the University and Boeing
aircraft designed to knock out
bomber aircraft. He worked at
both Boeing and the University.
From 1951 through 1960 Vivian
was a research engineer and lec-
turer in the electrical engineering
department at the University.
From 1953 through 1955 Vivian
worked on high resolution radar
at the University's Willow Run
center which does the bulk of the
school's military research. He was
a leader of the design team which
produced sharply focused high
resolution radar prototype which
is in use today.
"Just before Siegel decided to
form Conductron," Vivian says, "I
decided my capabilities as a re-
searcher where adequate to keep
me in the research business but
not as a top man. Still I enjoyed
the activities of an engineer.
"At the time I had a family of
four, outstanding bills,dand a re-
cent doctorate. I decided to use
my talent where there would be a
clear-cut return. The money is
much better off in commerce,
where there's a chance for growth
of equity.
"I had also been city Dem-
ocratic chairman, and a City
Council candidate," says Vivian.
"Politics were very time-consum-

ing, and it was obvious from the
examples of Romney, Williams and
Kenedy that politics meant com-
peting with people equipped with
money. It was more a problem of
being able to afford to take the
time off than anything else."
"A post in the Democratic state
office in Lansing was offered to
me, but I decided that it would
make me a servant of the party-
and this would be the wrong role.
"I took the Conductron job (and
4,900 shares of stock at a penny
apiece) became immersed in busi-
ness and four years later I was
not in debt. In 1964, events hap-
pened so the plan came true. I
was able to make a start in finan-
cing my Congressional campaign."
After he defeated Republican in-
cumbent George Meader in the fall
of 1964 Vivian sold the 4,900 Con-
ductron shares that he had origin-
ally purchased for a penny apiece.
The original $49 investment earned
Viviain over $100,000 when he sold
the stock. Vivian got rid of the
stock to avoid a possible conflict
of interest. As a congressman he
was a member of the House Com-
mittee on Science and Astronaut-
ics.
Vivian is now a vice-president
of Siegel's new venture, KMS In-
dustries of Ann Arbor.

versity research) people, 'let's stop
the informal interchange. Don't1
talk about your research so much.'
We told this to people in fields
parallel to Conduction's."
After Siegel became head of
Conductron his role as a University
professor was largely confined to
supervising doctoral candidates.
According to Conductron's 1962
annual report one of his doctoral
students was David M. Rabin who
was simultaneously a Conductron
department head in radar cross
sections.
While there were many reasons
for Conductron's success, the key
one is the talented University staff
members who started the firm.
Among them were:
-Wayne Burdick, assistant head
of the radiation laboratory from1
1958 through 1961
-Thaddeus B. Curtz, head of the
computation department at WRL
from 1958 to 1961
-Dale M. Grimes, chairman of
the electrical engineering depart-
ment's committee on electromag-
netic field theory.
-Robert R. Graham, who "en-
gaged in the development and test
of BOMARC system ground control
equipment."
-Weston Vivian, research en-
gineer and lecturer in Electrical
Engineering.
-Elliott M. Fox, "The Univer-
sity .. consultant to North Amer-
ican Air Defense sNORAD)."
-Richard J. Sylvester "securityI
*4

on," says Norman. "The fact that
they move to industry doesn't
trouble us.
Siegel retained his professor-
ship as did Conductron's Vice-
President f o nrCommunications
Louis J. Cutrona, and Chief
Scientist Dale M. Grimes.
But last April the University
decided "you've got to wear only
one fraternity pin," says Siegel.
In a statement Dean Van Weylen
of the engineering school said
that "each person who wishes to
be involved in . . . education-in-
dustry interaction should have a.
major and primary commitment
to either industry or the Univer-
sity."
In effect the statement meant
professors who are working vir-
tually full time for outside in-
faculty positions. Instead they
would be made "adjunct" pro-
fessors.

Under the system engineering time Siegel held 133,000 shares Siegel's new venture will work
faculty can retain full professor- of Conductron. in educational - military systems,
ships while consulting for as' McDonald gave Siegel $625,000 holograms, sophisticated drilling
much as two working days a and 25,000 shares of McDonald devices, and adult games.
month. stock in exchange for 50,000 A number of the new executives
But faculty members who work shares of Conductron stock. with KMS were formerly with
less than 75 per cent of their The McDonald is currently Conductron. Among them are
time in the University-that is worth $51 a share or $1,275,000. Weston Vivian and Thaddeus
less than 15 out of 20 working and Siegel's remaining 88,000 Curtz.
days a month-are not generally Conductron shares are worth $3,- Three KMS executives are cur-
given fractional appointments. 608,000 (at the current market rently on the electrical engineer-
They get "adjunct" status. value of $41 a share). The figures ing faculty at the University.
Faculty members who want to do not reflect Siegel's holdings in They are Louis J. Cutrona, Chen-
explore outside jobs generally other companies and the appre- To Tai and Murray H. Miller.
can get leaves of up to two years. ciation of the McDonnell stock Siegel values his talented staff.
But "after two years, the person after the merger with Douglas "In Talent We Trust" was his
must decide where his primary Aircraft in April. Thus he is con- Conductron motto.
commitment lies," says Van Wy- servatively worth $5,501,000. "When a few disappointed
len. Siegel is now busy setting up staffers left Conductron to return
Siegel left the University fac- a new firm, KMS Industries. He to the University," says Norman,
ulty May 23. All the faculty ties says he is the sole backer of "he complained 'that the school
between the University and Con- KMS. was raiding his staff."
ductron are now terminated...
How did Siegel fare financially
in his Conductron venture?
In November 1966 McDonaldI The Hefty Hustlers of West Bursley
Aircraft Corp. (now McDonald-
Douglas) gained controlling stock i
interest in Cornductron. At that: H AL EG
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