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Albert G. Hill

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Albert G. Hill

Professor Albert G. Hill, a physicist, was a key leader in the development of radar in WWII, director of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory development of the electronic Distant Early Warning and SAGE continental air defense systems, and first chairman of The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. He died in 1996.

Dr. Hill was born in St. Louis on Jan. 11, 1910. In 1930 he received the BS in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and, after serving two years with Bell Telephone Laboratories, an MS in physics (1934). He received the PhD in physics from the University of Rochester in 1937.

He was an instructor in physics at MIT from 1937 to 1941, when he became a staff member of the Radiation Laboratory at MIT, which was developing radar for use in World War II. Hill headed the Radio Frequency Group in the Transmitter Components division and by the end of the war was chief of the 800-person division. After the war he became associate director of the newly formed Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, and was promoted in 1949 to its director.

Lincoln Lab was formed in 1951 at the request of the government, and Dr. Hill became its second director, leading the development of the computerized SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system and the DEW line of radar sets stretching from northern Alaska to Greenland. He helped establish in 1955 the SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe) Technical Center in The Hague and the NATO Communications Line, extending from northern Norway to eastern Turkey.

In 1956, Dr. Hill went to Washington to serve as director for the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group and vice president and director of research for the Institute for Defense Analyses. He returned to MIT in 1959 and resumed teaching physics. In 1965, he also became a lecturer in the Department of Political Science.

In 1970, he was appointed to the new position of vice president for research, supervising research administration on campus and the special laboratories (Lincoln Lab and the Instrumentation Lab). In May 1970, MIT formally divested itself of the Instrumentation Lab, which under the direction of Charles Stark Draper had developed the gyroscope and the inertial guidance system and had guided Apollo XI to the moon in July 1969. Dr. Hill, still vice president of research, became the chairman of the independent board of directors of the laboratory, renamed the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in honor of its founder. Draper Lab remained a division of MIT for three years and became independent in 1973.

In 1984, the Draper Laboratory dedicated the Albert G. Hill Building at One Hampshire Street in Cambridge.

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