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One’s Man’s Ode to Bob McClintock

May 08, 2023 01:50PM ● By Fred Parent Contributor

By Dr. Gary Grittner

I did not know Bob McClintock in his childhood, or during his youth and early life—a relationship I would no doubt have enjoyed. I first encountered Bob as an engineer at the Navel Weapons Laboratory in the 1970s.

Bob was supervising a group at the Lab and I was assigned to his team. I immediately took a liking to the man. He quickly convinced me that he was not interested in minutia and wanted to concentrate on making major advances in technology for the US Navy. In other words, think big and don’t sweat the place politics. I liked that.

The large and undeveloped potential technological area that interested Bob the most, and the area that he worked on tirelessly both at the Lab and during his retirement—was artificial intelligence.

Today “AI” is an everyday term, but it was not so in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Computer speed and memory was not what it is today. Algorithms to search huge databases needed to be developed, along with search techniques and of course faster computing and more data storage. This was Bob’s passion, and I was privileged to be part of his efforts.

In working for and with Bob, I never observed him to be anything but civil, empathetic, and concerned for the people on his team. This obviously carried over into his retirement and to his concern for young folks including his children, grandchildren and great grandchild.

Bob understood that in order to make scientific advancements in society, we need education, motivated and excited young folks to move into the workforce. Reading proficiency is a bedrock skill that needs to be developed at an early age. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program provides books to pre-school-age children that hopefully instill excitement for reading that will help develop the future workforce and produce the scientific progress that Bob envisioned.

In reflecting on my association with Bob McClintock, I deeply appreciate his mentoring and his confidence in me. Connie and I will miss his friendship, wit and sharp technological mind. He was truly “a life well lived.”

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