UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes > September 1995 Search

Farewell to Howard Hull, Rob Montgomery

Recent budget cutbacks have resulted in the loss of seven positions in the High Altitude Observatory, effective 30 September. Two of the HAO staff leaving this month submitted wrap-ups of their NCAR days to Staff Notes: instrumentation specialist Howard Hull and software engineer Rob Montgomery.

Howard Hull

NCAR began while I was working for HAO in 1959 as a student assistant in the Western Cutlery building at Broadway and Marine Streets. As I worked on numerous solar physics instrumentation projects, NCAR, with its HAO collaborators, formed around me. I didn't orchestrate any of it, I was simply and lovingly engulfed.

Over the years, our projects included radio telescopes, magnetometers, Mauna Loa coronameters, a solar eclipse camera, Stokes polarimeters, a solar-stellar spectrophotometer, a low-L mode solar seismology experiment, and even the first-ever repair of a satellite in space (the coronagraph on the Solar Maximum Mission spacecraft).

Although I was a project manager for three of these instruments, mostly I worked with others at HAO. Together, we labored to solve one gnarly instrumentation problem after another, using almost every electro-mechanical or electro-optic technology we could find that would work with interrupt-driven real-time computer operating systems. While all this was going on, HAO and NCAR physicists, collaborating with physicists elsewhere, explored and described in detail the way the solar-terrestial system works. Starting with solar "dermatology" [the study of the sun's outer layer], they developed the sciences of solar seismology and magnetospheric physics, bringing a better understanding of it all, inside and out.

For the future, I'll want to carry what I've learned working with co- workers here at HAO and elsewhere in NCAR into the private sector. There I'll try to remain employed, perhaps to the end of the century, or even a little beyond.

Rob Montgomery

My NCAR career began in 1988 in Bob Lackman's Scientific Visualization Group (Scientific Computing Division). I worked as a student for over two years while getting a master's degree in computer science from the University of Colorado. Some of the projects I worked on include the development of NRIF (NCAR Raster Interchange Format) via raster filters and viewers, NCAR Graphics examples, documentation, debugging, and various scientific visualization efforts.

After my degree I found a temporary position in NOAA's Wave Propagation Laboratory, then obtained a regular position at HAO. I provided software support for two projects: Bruce Lites's advanced Stokes polarimeter and Tim Brown's advanced fiber optics echelle spectrograph. I created data-processing pipelines, which involved writing, assembling, integrating, optimizing, and maintaining software, as well as producing documentation. I also performed user support for HAO staff with Unix, IDL (Interactive Data Language), software tools, the NCAR computing environment, and other computer science. Recently I've devoted some time to producing HAO Web documents.

In general, I enjoy bringing the benefits of computer science to scientific research and have worked in seismology, geomagnetism, oceanography, astronomy, and solar physics. I hope to stay in the area and keep in contact with the terrific people of NCAR.

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Last revised: Wed Mar 29 17:37:11 MST 2000