Published: April 19, 2018 By

The CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The following story was submitted by alumnus Philip Pearl, a retired professional engineer and ASCE fellow. He earned a BS in civil engineering and business in 1953 and served in the Air Force between years studying at CU Boulder. If you have CU Engineering memories, share your story with us using the link to the right.

Four students standing with surveying equipment

Philip Pearl (second from left) completing surveying field work with fellow students for Professor Roland Rautenstraus. These surveys were later used to build a portion of the future Denver-Boulder toll road.

"I entered CU as a freshman in September 1947 to pursue the five-year program in civil engineering and business.

Most of us engineering students wore “engineer’s boots,” especially during the colder and snowy days. We wore our slide rules hanging from a belt loop. I bought my slide rule at the student store when I was a freshman. It was a K&E log decitrig. It had 20 scales, and I used them all. After graduation, I used that slide rule in all my structural and hydraulic designs until the early 70’s when I purchased my Texas Instruments TI-55 11 scientific hand calculator. I still have that slide rule; it has a special place in my desk.

Another memory was my working for my room and board in the dorms. The big boss of the dorm system was Bly Curtis. She was a real taskmaster, but very fair. I worked for two years in the freshman women’s dorm, on the serving line in the cafeteria. Another quarter I mopped all the floors after dinner, and another quarter I operated the potato machine in the evening. The job had some perks... I was able to occasionally join the basketball team for dinner at their training table in the basement. They ate a lot better than the general student population.

In 1949 and 1950 the engineering students formed an intramural baseball team, and so did the engineering professors and instructors. We played each other a couple of Sundays per month at a baseball diamond down near Vetsville (the other side of Boulder Creek). I pitched and played third base. I don’t remember the scores, but we played for bragging rights.

I had a CU student summer job in Central City and was a part of the students who made up the Air National Guard Squadron in Boulder. I joined the Colorado Air National Guard in 1948, and in April 1951, our squadron was activated into the Air Force by Harry Truman. The university gave us credit for our course work completed up to May 1. Our squadron was made up mostly of CU students, including pilots who flew in World War II.

We were shipped to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y. Our squadron was the 109th Radar Calibration Squadron, and we took care of the engineering and radar calibration for the early warning stations along the northern part of the U.S. (from Buffalo to northern Maine down to Virginia). Chauncey DePuy and I were the only 'civils' in the squadron, and we took care of all the surveying. Our squadron was transferred to the Air Force Base in Sioux City, Iowa, in April 1952. We serviced the early warning stations in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.

I was discharged in August 1952, got married, and returned to CU to complete my fifth year, with about 42 semester units to tackle - CU went to the semester system while I was gone."

Compiled by Tatiana Jones. Tatiana is a junior Technology, Arts & Media major working in the Dean's Office through the Earn-Learn Apprenticeship program.