AMSAA technical director reflects on 46 years at APG as he retires
August 13, 2010
- Deitz formed the cornerstone of Army eye-safety evaluations
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- As Dr. Paul H. Deitz approaches his retirement from the Army Oct. 1, he holds in great esteem the work of APG scientists during the last half century.
"Aberdeen is a heck of a place," Deitz said as he reflected on 46 years of service at APG and the achievements that he and his colleagues have made to ensure Soldiers have the best technology available. "It has been a fabulous intellectual journey. The Army gave me access to great people who gave me great advice."
While a senior at Gettysburg College in 1964, Deitz heard that Aberdeen Proving Ground was hiring.
"Where the heck is Aberdeen Proving Ground'" he said. "I interviewed and started. They gave me four options to choose from. I chose lasers because it sounded the most interesting."
He has been at APG ever since.
Deitz started as a physicist in the U.S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratory and retires as the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity technical director.
Dr. William Forrest Crain, AMSAA director, praised Deitz's service.
"He is a great American who has devoted his entire life to the service of our Army and our nation," Crain said. "He has touched, influenced and nurtured countless analysts and scientists throughout his career to the betterment of all."
Among Deitz's greatest scientific accomplishments, he cites his work with lasers during the 1960s at BRL. According to his Nomination for Army Exceptional Civilian Service Award, his research "formed the cornerstone of Army eye-safety evaluations." He also points to the early period of computer simulation in the 1980s when he worked to improve the Abrams tank.
Deitz is also especially proud of his work to bring the U.S. Army Research Laboratory into an active role with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Computing in 1996 in Philadelphia. Later in 1996, Deitz directed a gathering of Army scientists to celebrate the history of computing at APG.
Army researchers served a vital role in shaping the modern computer age, according to Deitz. The urgent need for high-performance computing during World War II led the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps to fund the design and implementation of the world's first high-speed electronic automatic computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, known as the ENIAC.
Deitz wrote the foreword for a paper titled "50 Years of Army Computing: From ENIAC to MSRC," praising Army scientists during the 1940s: "Scores of 'computing pioneers' gathered at APG to reminisce about the accomplishments that stemmed from the Army's computation needs during World War II... Time has not dimmed the importance of the role played by the Army."
Another of Deitz's scientific passions has been the role of mission effectiveness. He explained that all aspects must be considered when developing new technology. Scientists need to ask how their projects will be used in a Soldier's mission, he said.
"We have been working in individual functions," he said. "The big thing that we have been missing is getting the effectiveness of the mission for the Soldier. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
Deitz discussed the costs and benefits of increasing the horsepower in an Army combat vehicle. Researchers need to consider how it will affect fuel consumption and the logistical challenges of providing extra fuel. Also important is how the vehicle will disperse the additional heat from the increased power.
"Look at testing in an operational context," he said. "Link the horse to the battle. How will the research support the Soldier' I've been happy to see the [scientific] community embrace these ideas."
He asks future researchers to consider the context of their applications.
"No matter how strong we could make our vehicle, there would be munitions that could get through," he said. "What insights do you have if the vehicle is defeated' What are your best chances for survival'
Many questions must be answered before new technology translates effectively to the battlefield, he said.
"How do you frame the mission'" he said. "How do you relate that to performance and mission effectiveness' How do we aggregate our ideas together for mission effectiveness' How do all these factors come together'"
Despite the difficult challenges faced in current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Deitz is confident the APG community will help the Army attain its missions.
"There is great intellectual diversity at APG. It's been quite a privilege to have these experiences," he said.
Deitz earned a bachelor of arts in physics from Gettysburg College, as well as a master of science and doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Washington. He has received numerous honors and awards and has authored or co-authored 70 research papers and books.