Robert Channing Seamans Jr. was the ninth secretary of the Air Force.
He was born in 1918 in Salem, Mass and attended the Lenox School, Lenox, Mass. He earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering at Harvard University in 1939; and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master of science degree in aeronautics in 1942, and a doctor of science degree in instrumentation in 1951. He has received honorary doctor of science degrees from Rollins College and New York University, and honorary degree of doctor of engineering from Norwich University, Northfield, Vt. He is a member of the Board of Overseers at Harvard University.
Prior to his appointment as secretary of the Air Force he has been active in the fields of missiles and aeronautics since 1941. From 1941 to 1955 he held teaching and project-management positions at MIT. In 1960 he joined NASA as associate administrator and then became deputy administrator.
Seamans was the Jerome Clarke Hunsaker Professor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-endowed visiting professorship in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in honor of the founder of the Aeronautical Engineering Department of MIT. He also was a consultant to the administrator of NASA.
From 1948 to 1959, he served on technical committees of NASA's predecessor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He served as a consultant to the Scientific Advisory Board of the Air Force from 1957 to 1959, as a member of the board from 1959 to 1962, and as an associate adviser from 1962 to 1967.
His positions held at MIT from 1941 to 1955 included: assistant professor and then associate professor, Department of Aeronautical Engineering; project engineer, Instrumentation Laboratory; chief engineer of Project Meteor; director of the Flight Control Laboratory.
He joined the Radio Corporation of America in 1955 as manager of the Airborne Systems Laboratory and chief systems engineer of the Airborne Systems Department. In 1958 he became chief engineer of the Missile Electronics and Controls Division at RCA in Burlington, Mass.
In 1960 Seamans joined NASA as associate administrator with responsibilities for research and development programs, field laboratories, assembling and launching facilities, and a worldwide network of tracking stations. From December 1965 until January 1968 he was deputy administrator of NASA retaining many of the management responsibilities of his prior position.
He was appointed a visiting professor of MIT in March 1968 and became the Jerome Clark Hunsaker Professor in July 1968.
Seamans is a member of Sigma Xi; American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Astronautical Society; American Society for Public Administration; American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston); National Space Club; Foreign Policy Association; National Academy of Engineering; International Academy of Astronautics; and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was a National Delegate, Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (NATO), from 1966 to 1969.
He has received the following awards: Naval Ordnance Development Award (1945); American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Lawrence Sperry Award (1951); Aero Club, New England, Godfrey L. Cabot Aviation Award (1965); NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1965); Goddard Trophy (1968); NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1969).
In January 1970, the grade of Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers was conferred upon Seamans "for leadership in the application of electronics to guidance and control problems, and for direction of space programs." He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and in July 1969, was named an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In June 1969, he was elected to the Board of Trustees, National Geographic Society.