Lifetime of Teaching: 1928 – 1987
Edgerton enjoyed considerable success in academic, industrial, photographic, and artistic communities. Throughout his colorful life, however, he continued to teach – his lifelong delight. From 1927 until his death, Edgerton was a permanent member of the MIT faculty: first as a research assistant (1927), then as instructor (1928), assistant professor (1932), associate professor (1938), full professor (1948), institute professor (1966), and institute professor emeritus (1968). Although retired in 1968, he continued to work in the MIT stroboscope Light Laboratory and to teach the freshman course in stroboscope photography.
At the heart of Doc’s work is his insatiable curiosity. It was this desire to know that made him such a memorable teacher. He inspired his students and his students inspired him. As early as 1932, he had already supervised thirteen theses, enlivened by his students’ research and discoveries.
Doc collaborated with others throughout his life. Kenneth Germeshausen and Herbert Grier are his most notable, lifelong colleagues, but lab assistant Charlie Miller, wartime associates Charlie Wyckoff and Fred Barstow, and mechanical genius Bill MacRoberts are equally important. Doc also involved his students in his work, notably Kim Vandiver, Gus Kayafas, Marty Klein, and Peter Mui. From his earliest days on the faculty, Doc constantly worked with other professor at MIT, bouncing ideas around and trying out new strobes in new ways. Doc never stopped teaching at MIT and never stopped teaching in life. He was eager to share his inventions with businessmen, students, and members of social clubs, engineering societies, and the public. He showed off the strobe every chance he had, from the David Letterman show to Nebraska diners, from MIT classrooms to civic groups.
Doc’s work is marked by the lively give-and-take of collaborating with others and communicating the results. “Work hard… tell everyone everything you know… have fun.”