I'm sure there are engineers today who are just as willing to risk their careers for a solution they think is right. (We call them startups.) I would also like to compliment his choice of tie the in photograph on first page.
The truly sad thing is that most organizations (eveyone I have seen or heard about) don't care if your right these days. Sure being wrong will get you in trouble because most failures need a scape goat.
Being correct is typically the worst option if you try and push your ideas against resistance. You can try going over your bosses head or even pushing your idea in a public forum having your idea critisized by your boss as not preferred. That is a short road to the end of your job these days. It does not matter if you are right.
The path to success is to suggest the correct awnser and if those in charge dont claim credit for your ideas then the idea dies a quite death. That is a big reason why North American companies are such lame ineffective places to work now a days.
Hats off to NASA for being so close to a meritocracy that you could go 6 levels above you on the org chart and keep your job....and have the company accept your solution. Not much of that going on around here any more.
It is refreshing to read about John Houbolt, thank you. Without the aid of computers that we take for granted (and carry one in our pockets that is much more powerful that Apollo's on-board ones!), he solved tough problems with hard-core engineering knowledge, analysis and hand calculations. It is a tragedy that we are losing the generation of these real engineers with nary a few to replace them.
Thanks for the link. I now know more about Houbolt.
Unless today's space experts learn to emulate Houbolt's vision, courage, and soft-spoken stubbornness, the grandiose "Vision for Space Exploration" plans for resuming human flight beyond low Earth orbit may fail to be realized.
When I hear the term "team player" being thrown about, I've long since come to think "milquetoast," worker bee, company man. In other words, pejorative terms.
Of course, anyone who does not "go along to play along" had better be right, at least most of the time. The problem is self-regulating. Anyone who has a mind and speaks it, if he isn't right overwhelmingly often, will not remain employed very long.
What's also amazing is how what was once almost unthinkable--rendevous in Earth orbit, Moon orbit, and even Mars Orbit--now has become routine, to the point where the public is jaded and blase about it.
It's another example of how when you perform these "miracles", you end up making your work seem simple and trivial, and thus it is not appreciated. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say, and beware the law of unintended consequences of your accomplishments.