At the 62nd annual Staff Impact Awards on June 1, Caltech honored more than 300 staff members, including Michael Walsh, an engineer in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering who has completed 45 years of service to the Institute.
For the last four decades, Walsh has designed, assembled, and tested electronic and electromechanical instrumentation for the research groups in BBE.
"I enjoy the daily novelty in my job. I seldom find myself doing the same old thing," he says. "I especially enjoy working with the graduate students and postdocs. Their approach to what can be done to succeed in their research seems boundless. Trying to keep up with that attitude has helped to keep my job exciting and fresh."
Walsh, who spent his first five years on campus working as an electronics technician in the lab of Nobel Laureate Max Delbruck, says it has been interesting to watch the campus grow since he started just a few months after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, when Throop Hall was still standing. Back then, for example, San Pasqual ran all the way through campus and Walsh's wife could drop him off in front of the Norman W. Church Laboratory for Chemical Biology.
After five years at Caltech, Walsh received a job offer from La Cañada High School to be an electronics teacher. But by then, he says, he had grown fond of the Caltech campus, with its Ditch Days, pumpkin drops, and Rose Bowl scoreboard pranks that "made it fun to be a part of the Caltech family." He instead chose to apply for a position at Caltech as an instrumentation engineer—the job he holds to this day.
Walsh, who lives in West Covina with his wife, Kathy—he married her six months before arriving at Caltech—calls his time working for the Institute "a roller coaster ride" he still enjoys.
"I'm doing what I love to do every day," he says, "and getting paid for it."