SIR programs in 2012



November 14, 2012
Speaker: Fritz Trapnell; Son of Vice Admiral Frederick M. “Trap” Trapnell
Subj.: Trap – The Pioneering Test Pilot Who Led The Navy From Biplanes to Jets

Fritz Trapnell tells the story of Vice Admiral Frederick “Trap” Trapnell, for whom Trapnell Field at NAS Patuxent River gets its name, and one of America’s greatest engineering test pilots. His flying career spanned the period from 1927 to 1950, during which naval aviation evolved from biplanes through high performance propeller planes and into jets Through much of this period, he was responsible for guiding the development of new Navy aircraft. At the start of WW II, Navy fighters were outperformed by their opposition. Trap led the expedited evolution of two superb fighter types that came to dominate the air over the Pacific. Then, following the war, he guided the Navy into the jet age.

Fritz Trapnell grew up in Coronado, California, spent two years on active duty as an enlisted Aviation Electronics Technician in the U.S. Marine Corps, and then attended the California Institute of Technology, from which he graduated with a Master degree in Electrical Engineering. He had a fifty-year career in the computer and software engineering and engineering management – starting with IBM and retiring in 2007 from Hewlett-Packard.

Fritz is a life-long aviation enthusiast with a special affection for the Navy. He wrote a novel about an American pilot in the Battle of Britain and is currently working on a biography of his father, which he expects to have published this year. His talk will be based on material collected for this book.


October 17, 2012
Speaker: David "Pablo" Cohn, Senior Research Scientist,
Subj.: One Hell of a Long Day - A Summer Working at the South Pole

One hundred years ago, Roald Amundsen first reached the southernmost point of the globe – almost two miles up on an unbroken ice sheet two thousand miles wide, at the center of the coldest, highest, driest and emptiest continent in the world. It would be 45 years before anyone else made it to the Pole and lived to tell the tale. Today on that site sits the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, staffed year-round by scientists, engineers, tractor drivers, plumbers and dishwashers.

David Pablo Cohn spent three months working for the U.S. Antarctic Program there, doing tech support for some of the most interesting people and craziest science projects on the planet.

Dr. Cohn is a Senior Research Scientist with, the philanthropic arm of the company, and the former Technical Lead for Google Labs. He travels compulsively, and writes about those travels on his blog at Recent adventures have taken him from the South Pole, through New Zealand earthquakes, and deep into the wilds of the Liberian backcountry.

Dr. Cohn is also a certificated flight instructor, and a commercial single- and multi-engine pilot. He recently earned solo privileges in the Supermarine Spitfire.


September 19, 2012
Speaker: Brian Sussman, KSFO Talk Radio Host
Subj.: Climate Change

For 25 years Brian Sussman has been a top media personality in the San Francisco Bay Area. For many of those years he was the market’s top television meteorologist and recognized by his peers as one of the most accurate and entertaining in the business. His accolades include nearly two dozen state and regional awards for “Best Weathercast” from the Associated Press and Radio-TV News Directors Association, a handful of Emmys, and an award of merit from the National Education Association for his enlightening science reporting. During the 1990s, Brian served as the fill-in weatherman on the nationally broadcast CBS Morning Show with Harry Smith.

In 2001, he voluntarily left the TV airwaves to host a local conservative political talk show on the legendary radio station, KSFO. In 2010, Sussman was promoted to headline the station’s morning drive program.

Sussman was also distinguished by the State of California for assisting in the adoption of foster children. Through his organization, Brian’s Kids, Sussman utilized the airwaves of KPIX-TV in San Francisco to highlight children waiting for adoptive families. Between 1989 and 2001, 400 foster children were placed into permanent families thanks to Brian’s Kids.

Sussman’s bestselling book, Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes the Global Warming Scam, was released on Earth Day, 2010. His second book, Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America, was released on April 17. His books will be on sale following the luncheon.


August 15, 2012
Speaker: Louis Paré, Chief Engineer, Near-Infrared-Camera (NIRCam), Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Center
Subj.: It Ain’t Rocket Science

Louis was born four and a half months after NASA was founded. He grew up in and with the space age. A self-proclaimed space geek from as far back as he can remember; he started building and launching rockets more than 40 years ago. He attended Texas A&M University, earning Bachelor and Master-of-Science degrees in Aerospace Engineering. His graduate research involved modeling transonic boundary layers in cryogenic gas flows. He worked for NASA, General Dynamics, and 27 years ago he joined Lockheed, now Lockheed-Martin.

Louis has supported a wide array of projects and programs including: Skylab, Shuttle, Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles, Hubble Space Telescope, Strategic Defense, missile warning systems, missile defense, atmospheric and environmental science systems and sensors, space lasers, precision pointing optical- mechanical systems, x-ray astronomy, and numerous advanced system concepts and proposals. He is currently Chief Engineer for the NIRCam instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto.

In addition to his professional activities he has several years of involvement coaching accomplished student teams competing in the Tech Challenge held by the Tech Museum of Innovation. Louis is known to occasionally wax philosophically in dialogue and blogs, enjoys motorcycles, snow skiing, redwoods, mountains, and sunsets.


June 20, 2012
Speaker: Roy Lave, Founder and Former Chair/CEO, Los Altos Community Foundation and Former Mayor of Los Altos
Subj.: Volunteerism

Over the last 20 years, Dr. Lave has served as the Founding Chair/CEO of the Los Altos Community Foundation. He also served as Los Altos Mayor and Councilmember, and as a Commissioner on both the Metropol- itan and Santa Clara County Transportation Commissions. He now serves on the board of directors of the Bus Barn Stage Company Theatre, the Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project and has recently retired from the Moscow- Santa Clara County Sister-County Commission.

Prior to his retirement, Dr. Lave was the CEO and Co-Founder of SYSTAN Corporation, a systems anal- ysis consulting firm. In addition, he served as a found- ing Director of the Bank of Los Altos and, in 2000, joined the Heritage Bank of Commerce where he served until 2005.

Dr. Lave is an expert in follow-on careers and volunteerism. He will ad- dress the new recognition by sociologists of a demographic of seniors who are retired but still healthy, active and fully capable of continuing to con- tribute for two or more decades longer than in previous generations. Noth- ing in our personal backgrounds, our various cultures or our society has prepared us for this time in our lives. Many of the seniors in this group may have special abilities of value to our community, together with needs for enrichment and engagement beyond the present offerings for seniors.

Dr. Lave earned BS, MS and MBA degrees from the University of Mich- igan and a PhD from Stanford University in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. He has lived in Los Altos with his spouse Penny (also a previous Los Altos Mayor) for over 43 years.


May 16, 2012
Speaker: Don Nielson, former Vice President of SRI and Director of the Computing and Engineering Sciences Division
Subj.: The History of SRI

During his 40 years with SRI International, Don Nielson spent about equal time in technology development and in management. His technical expertise began in conventional radio, but in 1972 he and his colleagues recognized the emerging potential of digital systems and the eventual convergence of digital communications and computing. This vision was so clear that, in a rare initiative within SRI, they petitioned to move their communications laboratory into the SRI computing research environment where he became the laboratory’s director. What followed gave SRI op- portunities to create some of the earliest innovations in computer commu- nications. In 1973 he lead the design and integration of the world’s first mobile digital radio network, called Packet Radio. In 1976, that effort led to the first demonstration of the Internet protocol, TCP, using it to span that radio network and the existing ARPANET. Nielson and his lab also created some of the first handheld digital terminals for computer access, which, by design were also the first portable communications devices for the deaf. Shortly thereafter, in 1978, SRI built one of the first publicly accessible electronic mail sys- tems for that community.

After retiring from management roles in 1998, he documented SRI’s origins and unique research accomplishments in his book entitled A Herit- age of Innovation: SRI’s First Half Century.

Dr. Nielson received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1969. He has also served on technical advisory committees for DARPA and DCA and on the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.


April 18, 2012
Speaker: Ron Lynn, Director of Player Development, Stanford Uni- versity Football Program.
Subj.: Stanford Football and his personal history in professional sports.

Ron Lynn has extensive coaching experience during 20 years in profes- sional football, including stints with both the Oakland Raisers and the San Francisco Forty-Niners. He also has extensive experience in coaching at the college level, starting in 1966 at Toledo and in- cluding positions with Cal, San Jose State and now Stanford (since 2008). After serving as Stanford's assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Ron enters his second year as the program's director of player development. His primary duties will focus on all aspects of Stanford's football operations and recruiting. Considered to be one of the most respected defensive minds in the game, Ron has held defensive coordinator positions with the San Diego Chargers (1986-91), the Cincinnati Bengals (1992-93) and the Washington Redskins (1994-96). He was also a secondary coach in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1997-99), the Oakland Raiders (2000-03) and the San Francisco 49ers (2004). Ron got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Toledo in 1966 before returning to his alma mater, Mount Union College, where he coached from 1967-73. He then moved onto coaching positions at Kent State, San Jose State, Pacific and California. He served as the Golden Bears defensive coordinator for the 1981 and 1982 seasons. Ron graduated from Mount Union College in 1966 with a Bache- lor of Science Degree in Chemistry. He later added a Master's De- gree in Education from Toledo in 1970.


March 21, 2012
Speaker: John Mascali, U.S. Navy Reserve Officer and Commercial Airline Pilot (Retired)
Subj.: The History of Moffett Field

John Mascali is a retired Navy Captain with over 41 years of flying expe- rience. He started flying in 1959 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, and ended his career in 2000, retiring as a commercial pilot with Pan American World Airways and Delta Airlines. He credits his long career to the adage that “there are bold pilots and there are old pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” His career in the Navy extended over 35 years and included tours of duty at Moffett Field Naval Air Station in Patrol Squadrons VP-19, VP-31 and as the Commanding Officer of VP 2920, VP 91 and VTU 8087.

John has lived in Saratoga for 42 years with his wife Diana, to whom he’s been married for over 50 years. He currently serves on the Moffett Field Historical Society’s Board as Director of Development. He is also a member of the Navy League, Sons of the American Revolution, The Quiet Birdman and several other local organizations.

In his presentation “The History of Moffett Field,” John will trace the 75- year history from its beginning in 1930 when Mrs. Laura Whipple of Niles lead a campaign to purchase more than 1000 acres of farmland in Sunnyvale and Mountain View for $476,000, then sold it to the Navy for $1. John will share pictures and stories of the construction of Hangar One, the rigid dirigible USS Macon, the many different squadrons and aircraft that have flown out of Moffett Field, and some of the history of NASA Ames.


February 15, 2012
Speaker: John Hollar, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Computer History Museum.
Subj.: History and Direction of the Computer History Museum

Since joining the Museum, John has led the development and execu- tion of a new strategic plan that has produced significant growth in the Museum and in its mission. The centerpiece is “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing,” which opened in January 2011.The new strategy also is producing major growth of into the one of the world’s leading Internet sites on computing and computer history.

John has expanded the Museum’s production of film and digital media to make the major stories of computer history and its pioneers vivid and engaging for a wide audience. He has formed strategic relationships with National Pub- lic Radio, Intel, Microsoft, Google, SAP, the Western Association of Venture Capital (WAVC) and other national and international institutions, and introduced a new education program. John previously was President of Penguin Television Ltd. and of Pearson Broadband Ltd. in London, and served as a senior executive of Pear- son PLC., the FTSE 100 global media and education company. Before that, he served as Executive Vice President of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), where he launched the award-winning, and a wide array of national education services. He has been the executive producer of more than 100 hours of documentary and children’s television. He is the winner of a 2003 BAFTA and the 2001 Milia d’Or in digital content, among many other awards.

Hollar holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from Southern Methodist University and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.


Janury 18, 2012
Speaker: Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha, Manager, Cognitive Computing, IBM Research - Almaden
Subj.: Brain on a Chip

Dr. Modha will describe how IBM's so-called cognitive computing chips could one day simulate and emulate the brain's ability to sense, perceive, interact and recognize tasks that humans currently do much better than computers. In a sharp departure from the past, IBM intends to change the computer from a basic calculator to something much more like the brain.

Dr. Modha is the founder of the Cognitive Compu-ting group at IBM Research-Almaden and the princi- pal investigator for the DARPA SyNAPSE team. (SyNAPSE is a backronym for “Systems of Neuro- morphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics.”) In this role, he leads a global team across the fields of neuroscience, nanoscience and supercomputing to build a computing system that will emulate the brain's abilities for perception, action, and cognition.

Among the past accomplishments of his group: they have performed cortical simulations at the scale of a cat cerebral cortex (one billion neu- rons, 10 trillion synapses); they have compiled, visualized, and analyzed the largest network of a Macaque monkey brain currently in existence; and they have recently demonstrated two path-breaking neurosynaptic cores that enable the creation of super-dense, cognitive computing chips.

Dr. Modha holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Cali- fornia at San Diego. He has 30 U.S. patents, and is named as an IBM Master Inventor. In 2010, he was elected to the IBM Academy of Technology.