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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #928: Fronczak, Frank J. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (May 05, 2008)

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00:12:01 - 00:15:58 Previous Employment

previous employment, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), funding, impressions, projects, difficulties, budget, technology, relationships, administration

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I was also thinking in terms of being at NASA, I mean it's a very different kind of work environment I'd imagine.


Yeah, that actually realization perhaps hit me a little bit slower than it should have and I think actually had I realized the differences between working at a place like NASA and working at the Forest Products Lab, I honestly, with all honesty, probably would have, I might not have taken the job. Turned out the way turned out, there were a lot of reasons why I took the job, I mentioned one I really like Madison, another one I really thought that it was an interesting position in that it involved both process and product, which I was interested in doing. I also had a misconception, or my perception was that the opportunities and the funding level would have been better than what it was. I came to a realization probably after about a year there, I was probably pretty slow on the uptake, that the level of funding that was devoted to the laboratory, in particular the amount of funding that was not already devoted and tied up in salaries. It was a very salary intensive budget, which left very little money for projects, which made it very difficult to do some of the kinds of projects that I wanted to do. Now, I was able to get funding for the first project, but even during that first project I was surprised at, you know, how what I considered to be a very small budget was considered to be a large budget at FPL.

When I had been working at NASA the project that I was in charge of, I don't know the numbers exactly, but it was---I was responsible for the design of equipment and laboratory facilities, and the operational laboratory facilities, and the budget for the project was probably, you know, well over a million dollars. Then I came to Forest Products Lab and it was difficult to get thirty-thousand dollars for a project and so I was surprised at how tight money was at the Forest Products Lab. Also, the nature of the place was very different than NASA in terms of the, I guess the vision and the---you know, NASA at that time was a very, very, very dynamic organization, people thought in very grand terms, you were encouraged to really stretch the bounds of technology, you were encouraged to really push the technology. At the Forest Products Lab I didn't think that was necessarily the case and it became, in my mind, it became clear as my time went on there, which led to a strong difference of opinion between me and perhaps strained relationships between me and the administration at the Forest Products Lab.

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