05/16/2011 07:00:00

Longtime Employee of IPAC Reveals Secret to Career Success

The summer of 1965 was one of dramatic firsts—Medicaid and Medicare were established, the Beatles played the first stadium concert in rock history, and U.S. astronaut Edward Higgins White made his maiden space walk. It was also the summer that Richard "Booth" Hartley began his Caltech career at the Jet Propulsion Lab. Seems fitting for a man described by his colleagues as a "legend."

"I realized that summer that I really wanted to work in the Deep Space Network," says Hartley, currently a Senior Software Developer for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC). "And my dream came true!"

Hartley, along with three other members of the Caltech community, will receive recognition for their 45 years of service at the Staff Service Awards on June 1.

His first job at Caltech was as Assistant Deep Space Network (DNS) Project Engineer for the Lunar Orbiter. He worked in the control room, making sure that the DSN provided adequate support to the Lunar Orbiter mission, which mapped the lunar surface in preparation for the Apollo Project.

Since then, Hartley has been involved in many major projects at IPAC, the science and data center for infrared astronomy, housed at Caltech since 1985. They include IRAS, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite launched in 1983; ISO, the Infrared Space Observatory that operated from 1995 to 1998; and 2MASS, the Two Micron All Sky Survey, conducted from 1997 to 2001. Colleagues says his "contributions to them were critical in making those projects successful." They add that his "rich experience and domain knowledge make him a go-to guy for any hard-to-solve problems."

Hartley is highly respected and loved by his co-workers; the feeling is mutual.

"Without a doubt, it's the people with whom I work that make Caltech a great place for me," says Hartley, who calls himself a "chief troubleshooter." "My coworkers are understanding and cooperative, and we mesh like a fine-tuned machine. My management is fully supportive, giving me the tools that I need and clearing the obstacles from my path. They always have praise for my accomplishments, and give me pride in my work."

For those aspiring for a long career at Caltech, Hartley offers three words of advice: "Follow your heart."

"If you love your work, you will excel and be recognized for that excellence," says Hartley. "It's wonderful to want to come to work and take on new challenges for which one is well suited."


Written by Katie Neith