William C. Schwartz
The University of Chicago
University of Missouri
University of Central Florida
PhD (honorary) Engineering Science
Schwartz Electro-Optics, Inc.
President & Chairman
How has my mathematics background helped me over the years? First, it gave me an entry into the aerospace business with my initial work in fire control systems which led to operations research and systems engineering. This gave me visibility by top management since I had the opportunity to give many briefings to top management and important customers and to help specify military performance characteristics of aircraft, spacecraft and missile systems. Also the logical thought processes taught in mathematics and my operations research background helped me in business management both in being able to analytically read a balance sheet and income statement and also in estimating the effects of management decisions on business operations.
I taught mathematics during graduate school and for one year after graduation at the Milwaukee School of Engineering but then decided that teaching was not the career for me. I next went to work for one of the military aircraft manufacturers (North American Aviation-NAA, later to become Rockwell and now Boeing) as a systems analyst and performed ballistics analysis and developed gunsight and fire control systems equations. This then led to the evaluation of the performance of aircraft fire and bombing systems. As I continued working for the company I was given more responsibility in areas involving my mathematical background and next became involved in war gaming and operations research.
In the late 1950s I developed an interest in space vehicles and orbital calculations and was a member of the founding group within NAA involved with the development of space vehicles and which developed the Apollo space system. In the early 1960s I moved to the Martin Company (now Lockheed Martin) where I managed three departments, Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Human Factors for this missile developer. It was during this period that I became involved in laser R&D. Shortly after the invention of the laser in 1960 Martin recognized its potential in missile guidance. I then went on to head the laser missile guidance R&D at Martin during most of the 1960s and Martin developed some of the first lasers used in Vietnam.
In 1968 I left Martin and founded a company, International Laser Systems-ILS, which developed and produced most of the laser target designators and rangefinders, used for guiding laser guided smart weapons, which flew in Desert Storm, the war in Iraq. In 1983 ILS was sold to Martin Marietta and then to Litton Industries and I retired for one year. In 1984 I founded Schwartz Electro-Optics, again a laser company but this time one involved in both commercial and military markets. The company has now grown to about 150 employees and produces laser systems for traffic control, weapons training, aerospace and industrial applications.
Finally I would urge any mathematician interested in management to get involved in community service. I have been very much a community activist and have gained valuable experience and people skills from this volunteer work and attribute much of my management success to this experience.