Bernard Bayuk ME’40
Bernard Bayuk ME’40 attended The Cooper Union with his brother Robert Bayuk ME’43. He had a meritorious career with the US Army Air Corp followed by a career in the aerospace industry and a retirement filled with travel. In 2000, he and his wife, Lorrain hosted the class of 1940’s 60 year reunion. He is active in the Bay Area Regional Group and was recently interviewed with his wife Lorraine, by Hsu-Wei Shueh, EE’90.
I’ve seen you both at quite a few West Coast Cooper events. What is your motivation to be involved in the Cooper community?
Cooper Union is an integral part of my life. It set my pattern for life and I appreciate that every day. My classmates and we remain close all these years. We had a reunion in 1990 for the Golden Legion and Lorraine and I planned a get-together here in San Francisco for our 60th in the year 2000. We had a weekend with our classmates and some wives and I treated everybody like tourists. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and we went to Treasure Island and we did proper things and we had dinner at Marine Memorial Club that I had belonged to. We had a lunch in Chinatown on Grant Avenue. So Cooper Union is very much a part of my life. I don’t need any additional motivation to attend Cooper Union events.
Please tell me about how you heard about Cooper and decided to apply back in 1936.
I first heard about it from my older brother who was mathematically inclined and I also heard about it in high school and I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I was good in math, liked math. I applied and I filled out the 8 page application and was accepted to take the exams and I made it, was accepted.
Where did you grow up?
Plainfield, NJ. I lived at home and commuted while I attended Cooper. Plainfield is about 30 miles from Manhattan. I rode a steam powered train every day, the Central Railroad Plainfield, to Jersey City. In Jersey City, I walked alongside the train right past the steaming locomotive..I loved it…onto the ferryboat that I took across the Hudson River. I learned in later years, that the site of the ferry slips was where the twin towers were built. From the ferry I walked four blocks to the subway and rode, I think, four stations to Astor Place then I’d walk to Cooper Union and I would do the same in reverse at the end of the day. And so with my slide rule, I calculated how many miles I travelled to get my Mechanical Engineering degree and I travelled 38 thousand miles and it was routine to me. I read textbooks on the train.
So you rode the elevated train that used to run above the Bowery and Third Avenue?
From the ferry slip on Liberty Street, I rode the subway to Astor Place station. It was a two block walk to the subway station and a four stop ride to Cooper. You paid your nickel and go through the turnstiles. The elevated train ran on the East side of town and went right by the Foundation building. We had sound proof windows with special glass so we were not distracted by it too much.
What do you remember about your professors or classmates?
When you are a commuter as I was with trains on schedules, you really have to stay with the schedule or you are going to be late. So in the lab for freshman Physics, we had two instructors who were ‘sour’ on things. During the lab we would do an experiment on the board with cords and weights and such to resolve forces and one of the two instructors would come and check it off. We were not able to leave until our lab work was checked off. I remember that one instructor would sit there at the table reading a book and I’d come and I’d stand by him and say, “Mr. Shause, I’m ready” He would just ignore me and so I would go to his boss, Professor Merit, who lived in New Jersey too and understood. I would say “Professor Merit, would you please check me out, Mr. Shause is busy” and he would. The other instructor was Halsey who was timid. We developed a short ditti that went, “Halsey the Mouse, and Shauss the Louse.” And we just had that amongst us, never in the earshot of them, but that’s what they became known among us students. Dr. Merit was the professor and he was a nice guy.
You attended The Cooper Union before the Engineering Building was built in the 1950s. Were your classes mostly held in the Foundation Building?
They were mostly in the Foundation building, but the labs (hydraulic, electrical, mechanical, and physics) were in the Hewitt building. We had a Corliss engine down in the basement. We were measuring temperature with the windows open and closed.
After Cooper Union, where did you go career wise and how did you came out to the West Coast.
I took the government exam for an engineering job and I got a very high grade because I went to Cooper. I pretty quickly got an offer of a job at Wright Field in Dayton Ohio and boy it appealed to me. It was the first time I left home and I was 20 years old…I accepted the job and that was my first job. That was 1940. Graduation was June 1940. I started work in September, I think. Pearl Harbor was December of 1941 and I had to be 21 to be registered for the draft so I did so the following year. I was deferred for a while and then I was given a direct commission. I became a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Air Corp and I was assigned to be responsible for bomb shackles. Nowadays, bomb shackles don’t mean anything to anybody, but because I had the degree…this is why Cooper is in my blood…because I was a mechanical engineer, I was given this assignment to be responsible for those. Shackles were manufactured in large quantities — hundreds of thousands. Every bomb must have a shackle which it hangs from. US bombs have two lugs so the shackles have two hooks. The bomb sights send a signal to the shackle to open the hooks. So I was the shackle guy.
Here is an interesting story. In 1944, I was in Ohio. These guys who were stationed in Utah came to see me. They asked if I had any shackles with one lug. I said as a matter of fact, you know British bombs have only one lug. So, we developed a shackle with one hook so we can carry British bombs. I said, ‘what’s your load’? They said, ten thousand pounds. I said, ‘that’s our limit’. So I gave them a few shackles and they left. In August, the atom bomb dropped, and I then got some drawings. Before I didn’t know what the load was, and there was the atom bomb with a single hook. So, my shackle probably carried and released the atom bomb on Nagasaki, not Hiroshima.
Were you responsible for the design the shackle?
Yes, I was responsible for getting that done. I didn’t do the design by myself. I was involved in it. Mostly, my time was spent in production at the factory in Detroit. Following that, I was responsible for the installation of shackles on the planes being built on the West Coast. I travelled then by train. On special occasions, I would get to fly. So I got to see San Francisco and fell in love with it.
How long were you with the Army Air Corp?
My total time credited was for 13 years. Part of that time I was a civilian engineer.
After your military service, where did you work?
First, I worked with Martin Co. in Baltimore and later I was transferred to the Martin Division in Orlando, FL. Because I was interested in the space program, I later took a position in the Space division of Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. in Sunny Vale, CA. I have lived here ever since. I retired from Lockheed Martin after 29 years in 1991. My total engineering career was 51 years.
What systems did you work on while you were Lockheed?
Oh my, I worked on the first reconnaissance satellite. The most important program back in the 1960’s was the CORONA program, that was the code name used under President Eisenhower’s presidency to build a reconnaissance satellite. I also worked on the manned space programs and also on programs not yet released. I was there for 31 years. The last 10 years I worked at the R&D division in charge of proposals for new business because I had background from what we had done in the past. I was in charge of many projects including Infrared and heat sensors. Many heat sensors require extremely low temperature, requiring the use of liquid hydrogen.
Would you recommend aerospace work to mechanical engineers graduating today?
Yes, I would recommend it. Let’s face it, the DOD R&D programs are at the leading edge of technology and you get very very interesting work. There are lots of projects going on. It also depends on what you want. For those interested in Silicon Valley and becoming a millionaire, this might not be the way unless you are able to sell your inventions to the DOD. With Lockheed, you sign a waiver for your inventions. If graduating engineers today want interesting work, they’ll find it in aerospace.
By the way, I want to say something about my brother Robert R. Bayuk ME’42. He passed away a couple of years ago. My twin brother Robert started Cooper a year after I did. However, he decided to transfer to night school so he can get a job, which is why he graduated later. When the war began, he became the 2nd Engineering Officer of a merchant marine ship. He also gave a lot back to The Cooper Union after he graduated.