Dr. Edward J. Wegman

Profile Updated: January 2, 2011
Class Year: 1961
Residing In: Fairfax Station, VA USA
Wife/Significant Other: Patricia K. Wegman
Occupation: Professor
Children: Lisa Anne , born 1971; Katherine Dawn, born 1980.
Parish Grade School:

Epiphany of Our Lord

Employer:

George Mason University

Grand Children:

Aaron Nathan, born 1996
Andrew Joseph, born 1998
Samantha, born 2003
Nathaniel, born 2008

Comments:

After McBride, I went to St. Louis University on a scholarship called the Mary C. Clemmons Scholarship. I am always grateful to Mary C. Clemmons for otherwise I wouldn't be where I am today. Earned a BS (honors) in mathematics in 1965. I graduated with 150 credit hours of which 15 were graduate work in physics and mathematics. Went to University of Iowa for graduate work earned MS in Statistics in 1967 and PhD in Mathematical Statistics in 1968. Was on the faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill from 1968 to 1978. Spent a sabbatical year at the University of Manchester, England in 1976-1977 academic year.

In 1978, I took a job with the U.S. Navy at the Office of Naval Research where I was initially a program manager and in 1982 I became the Director of the Mathematical and Computer Science Division. I was a U.S. government Senior Executive in that position. Beginning in 1984, I was also responsible for the Ultra High Speed Computing Program at the Strategic Defense Initiative Office (Star Wars). In 1986, I took a job at George Mason University as the Bernard J. Dunn Professor of Information Technology and Applied Statistics, and I am still there. I had a sabbatical leave in the 1999-2000 academic year which I spent at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working on things related to the Consumer Price Index. I spent the Spring Semester of 2008 at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University in England. In addition to my stays in England, I have had extended stays lecturing in Finland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

In addition to my two daughters and 4 grand children, I also have 35 academic children, i.e. people who have completed their PhD's with me as dissertation director. I also have 13 academic grandchildren. I have been very lucky in my life thanks in large part to many of the Brothers and Teachers at McBride. I am in touch with Bro Art Cherrier, who sparked my interest in mathematics. Bro (now Fr.) Tarrillion was a most memorable French teacher, who guided my interest in languages. Bro Albert Stein, even though he discovered I was completing my reading assignments at McBride by reading Classics Illustrated version, was immensely helpful in getting through honors English at St. Louis University. Dr. Alan Arkin, who was a Lutheran minister converted to Catholicism and who taught German at McBride, moved to St. Louis University where he taught me Biblical studies from a form criticism perspective. A special thanks is due to Fr. Scherer, who called me out of class one very early spring day of 1961 and gave me some forms to fill out. He didn't tell me what they were, but they turned out to be the application forms for the Mary C. Clemmons Scholarship at St. Louis University. Without this help, I would have probably wound up working at a gas station after McBride. Thanks to all of the the priests, brothers, and lay people who taught me at McBride.

School Story:

I cannot help but telling a bit of my chemistry stories. I took the summer school biology class after my freshman year. This was at Rosati Kain High School and was an extra credit course. I wasn't all that into biology, but the fallout was a great interest in chemistry. During the second half of the summer, I read every chemistry book that the local library had. When the fall semester started, I spoke with Bro Yasho letting him know I was very interested in chemistry. He gave me the standardized test that students normally take after the chemistry course in their junior year. I scored well enough that he thought I could study on my own. He gave me a key to the chemistry lab on the third floor to work unsupervised. Big mistake!

Story 1: Randy Reitz and I were (and still are) great friends. He was big time into electronics. I learned a lot of electronics from him and vice versa with chemistry. One day we decided to make gun powder. We made 100 grams and took about five grams of white phosphorus. White phosphorus burns spontaneously in air and must be kept under water. So we took our gunpowder and phosphorus on the city bus and went to Randy's home. We packed the gun powder into a tobacco tin and dropped the white phosphorus into it. Nothing happened immediately, but after a minute or so flames about 10 feet tall shot out of the can. No explosion, but great fireworks. Fortunately it was on a concrete form with no damage.

Story 2: The chemistry labs featured so-called "microchemistry" with tiny little test tubes that only allowed miniature reactions. I wanted to do something more. I looked up acids in the yellow pages and found a shop midtown St. Louis. They sold me full quarts of fully concentrated sulfuric, nitric and hydrochloric acids which I took home in a brown paper bag on the city bus. The standard way of making hydrogen gas was to put hydrochloric acid on a piece of metal like zinc, which would release hydrogen gas and zinc chloride. We decided to try an alternate method which was sodium hydroxide on aluminum, which results in sodium aluminate and hydrogen gas. Everything work well, almost. Not having a drying tube, the hydrogen was mixed with water vapor. When we lit the hydrogen, the whole assembly blew up shattering all the glassware. This was in the basement of my home. My mother asked what that bang was. "Oh nothing."

Story 3: One November evening, Randy and I decided to experiment with some of the fancy glassware in the chem lab. We wondered if we could get swirling flames to come out of the condensing tubes. We hooked them up to the gas jets, lit the gas coming out. Pretty spectacular! We turned out the lights to see the flames a little better. Unbeknownst to us, the C-team football team being coached by Bro. Yasho was practicing in the park next to McBride, and they noticed flames in the darkened chem lab. Soon the entire football team followed by Bro. Yasho came clambering up the steps in their cleats to put out the fire. That was not the last straw.

Story 4: I had read about nitroglycerin, but could never find a formula for making it. A closely related substance is nitrobenzine. I decided one morning before classes that I would try to make some nitrobenzine. The general formula was benzine, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid, but I didn't know the proportions. So I mixed these things together in a test tube. But nothing seemed to be happening. So I decided to add a little heat from a bunson burner. The benzine almost instantly boiled over spilling the acids and burning benzine on my hand and the countertop. Bro Yasho was not happy with me and that was the last straw. I guess McBride was lucky to have survived me.

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Jul 13, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Posted on: Jul 10, 2016 at 6:03 PM

How would I reach you in DC? Don't have any plans to be there yet; but will keep you in mind.

Jul 09, 2016 at 8:33 PM

Posted on: Jul 09, 2016 at 8:33 PM

Jul 04, 2016 at 4:33 AM
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Jul 23, 2015 at 10:17 AM
Jul 14, 2015 at 9:23 AM

Happy Birthday Bob from Ed Wegman

Jul 04, 2015 at 4:34 AM
Dr. Edward J. Wegman has left an In Memory comment for Profile.
Jan 20, 2015 at 12:34 PM

I was so disappointed to hear of his passing. In addition to being classmates at McBride, Dan and I were both mathematics majors at St.Louis University. In many ways our career paths were parallel. Dan worked for the Department of Commerce during a period while I worked for the Department of Navy. Dan lived in Fairfax Station, VA about 1 1/2 miles from my home also in Fairfax Station. We even attended the same parish, St. Mary's in Fairfax. We had lunch together last Fall and I had invited him to come to dinner at my home on December 28, but alas he was in Florida at the time. We spoke on the phone for over an hour discussing the parallels in our lives. We had agreed that he and his wife, Mary Ellen, would come to my home for dinner after the new year. Much to my dismay his daughter Colleen called me on January 3, his birthday, and told me he had past away the morning before. 

Bob Brischetto was absolutely correct. I remember Dan as among the very brightest of our McBride classmates. His accomplishments in his career in the Navy and subsequently with his work in cryptography were truly outstanding. I am happy to have known him especially in the last year when we were able to talk in more depth about our mutual interests. 

Jan 03, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Happy Birthday, Dan.

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Posted: Mar 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM