QC old boy Keith Wilson now works in field of space exploration By Patrick Denny

Stabroek News
August 8, 2003

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Guyanese usually turn up in the most unusual places so it is no surprise to learn that there is a Guyanese working in one of the more esoteric fields of science - space exploration. That Guyanese is Keith Wilson, Ph.D., who holds the position of Task Manager, Optical Communications Group, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Tech-nology. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a branch of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

His laboratory is on a table mountain facility at Wright-wood, California from where he is working on sending light to and from deep space probe spacecrafts.

Dr Wilson, a graduate of Queen’s College and a contemporary of Drs Roger Luncheon, Joey Jagan, Char-lie and Richard Cambridge, as well as Keith Aaron and Michael and Mortie London, is an expert in deep space optical communications using lasers. He has three patents in fibre optics technology for gyroscopes, which he developed while working for Litton Guidance and Control.

On a recent holiday here he explained that the technology has to do with ways of stabilising the wavelength of the light source. Among his other accomplishments is the transmission of light to the Galileo spacecraft in 1992 while it was on its way to Jupiter. He is presently working on a proposal for building the infrastructure for a Mars telecommunications orbiter.

Dr Wilson who is married with three children, none of whom has followed in his footsteps, graduated with a B.Sc in Physics from the California Polytechnic at Pomona, which he describes as one of the best engineering, business and agriculture schools. His contemporaries there were Dunstan Barrow, a former Chief Executive Officer at Guymine and local businessman, Brian Gittens and the US-based Bertis Brummel. He later graduated from the University of Southern California with a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics.

His love affair with modern physics stemmed from reading a text on the subject, which made him realise that classic physics which deals with planes and balls is too mundane but modern physics deals with the structure of matter and the details of light.

He attributes his success to the foundation he got at Queen’s College where there were science teachers that challenged him.

Dr Wilson, recounting what led to his concentration on the sciences at school, said that having successfully written Spanish, English Lan-guage, English Literature, French, Latin, West Indian History, Mathematics and History at the GCE O Levels, he wanted to concentrate on languages but his father advised him that if he wanted to get a scholarship he should do science. Thus he subsequently wrote and passed Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Pure Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. He left school and taught for two years at Carmel RC and Charlestown Government during which he wrote Mathematics at the Advanced Level as he had promised his father he would do. It was a condition of his leaving school to work for two years before continuing his studies. His father was Edgar Wilson who lectured at the University of Guyana and was also a secondary school teacher. His mother was Joyce who taught at the Carmel and Providence schools.

Dr Wilson recalls with fondness growing up and living in McDoom on the East Bank Demerara, Durban and Haley Streets, Fifth Street and at Leeds on the Corentyne Coast. He also recalls attending primary school at Smith Church on Hadfield Street.

Dr Wilson made a presentation on aspects of his work to the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers while on his holiday here.

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