By: Don Mock email@example.com
After a 38-year career in industry as an electrical engineer conducting award-winning electronics research and development, Art Greenberg and his wife were looking forward to a peaceful retirement in north Florida, where they could pursue their hobby of cave diving in the local springs. Instead, an urge to volunteer at the University of Florida led to a staff position in the Physics Department’s Electronics Shop. So much for those retirement plans – maybe next year! But for now, Art is having too much fun.
It all started when Art was age thirteen with his love for amateur (ham) radio. Plying the airwaves and pulling in faint signals so he could talk with strangers from around the world made it an exciting and fairly exotic hobby for a teenager. Art soon found himself soldering together the occasional Heathkit, or more often, building his own electronics from scratch. By college age he knew he wanted to be an Electrical Engineer, so he went to Philadelphia’s Drexel University with their strong cooperative-education program with industry. There he gained practical experience helping out at the local CBS radio affiliate, WCAU, and Drexel’s own school AM radio station, WXDT. By the time he graduated, he had also participated in the launch of the school’s first FM radio station.
All that radio communication experience naturally led him to his first job at RCA’s R&D laboratories in Princeton – the David Sarnoff Research Center – famous for inventing color TV. There, in 1978, he quickly became immersed in RCA’s quest to develop microprocessor-based consumer products. The first was a video-disc player that was somewhat similar to a traditional record player, but with the grooves containing video signals. The product worked, but ultimately lost out to a competing laser-disc video player from Phillips. Another project involved the development of an anti-ghosting device for a TV’s inner circuitry to help eliminate the problem of multi-path signals that interfered with obtaining a clear image from over-the-air broadcasts.
Art was also involved with the team that developed an MPEG Bitstream Decoder that can check television broadcast transmissions to ensure that the signal is compatible with industry standards. For this effort the team received a Technical and Engineering Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. As Art remembers it, “At the end of the Emmy awards ceremony, all of us technical folks lined up and filed out of the room past the ceremony’s sponsors, who handed us some odd gifts, such as an umbrella from Dolby Labs and a wine-bottle opener from Tektronix. It was a bit surreal.”
In 2000, Art left the R&D labs, which had become part of SRI International, to go to work at a start-up that was developing the ability for Cable TV to tailor a viewer’s ad experience based on demographic data. In 2011, while visiting Gainesville on a friend’s advice, he and his wife found their dream home. By 2015, now retired, he didn’t want “to just sit around the house seven days a week”, so he volunteered a few days a week to help with the Physics Department’s state-of-the-art CryoNet helium recovery system. Six months later, a staff position opened up in the Electronics Shop, and he was recruited to fill the vacancy.
Art is putting his many years of experience to good use in the Electronics Shop, supporting physics faculty, staff, and students with their electronic needs. He enjoys the variety of things to do, from troubleshooting and repairing commercial equipment to designing and building custom applications. He has also assisted with the lab section for the department’s Electronics class, where he recently helped two students get their wireless FM transmitter working. “The first time they got to hear their results, you should have seen their big smiles.” As Art summarizes his current situation, “I’m having fun here. I don’t see a need to leave it.” We have to agree – who needs retirement!