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Richard D. Platte (B.S., Physics, 1962)


I've finally retired to Myrtle Beach, S.C. after 51 years of full time national security work, mostly in intelligence.

(7-14-2015) I plan to visit campus for the Nebraska game on Sat. Oct. 17 and hope to stop by physics department on Friday. I would be happy to discuss a career in intelligence with any interested students or faculty (U.S. citizens only), as I did two years ago. Please let me know, if this would be of interest.

(Oct. 2009) I went to Princeton University until early 1957 and to Stanford that spring. In fall 1957, I transferred to the University of Minnesota to study physics. I enjoyed language studies (Russian and Chinese), intramural sports (championships in football, wrestling, and swimming), varsity tennis, and the Sigma Nu Fraternity. In fact, I enjoyed the University a little too much, flunking out and going back to California to work. In 1962 I returned with a determination to graduate. I started my graduate physics studies at the University. I got married in 1964. From 1964 to 1966, I was a system analyst at General Motors, A.C. Electronics Division working on advanced navigation and guidance systems for ICBM’s. I also continued evening graduate physics classes. We moved to Milwaukee for my first professional job. In 1966, I joined the C.I.A. I spent the next 33 years in that exciting and rewarding career, working in the operational, technical and analytical directorates, as well as being a special staff advisor to five Directors. I managed, founded, or reengineered five line organizations in both the Directorate of Operations and the Directorate of Science and Technology. My work with the technical program management included systems for space, airborne, marine, and ground applications. Conducting advanced research, development, and support to operations, I used imagery, signals, signature, and robotics technologies. I was the recipient of the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence and Intelligence Commendation Medals, and the Directorate of Operations’ Donovan Award. I retired from the CIA as the Director of the Office of Advanced Projects in 1999. I then joined a small company that supports many members of the national intelligence community, civilian and military. I still enjoy the challenges of the intelligence mission, working full time for several sponsors. I have been blessed with three sons- David (44), John (39), and Tyler (18), a daughter Robin (16), and two grandchildren. I have been married to my wife Karen for the past 30 years. We live in Vienna, VA. Over the years, I have occasionally gone “up north” to Leech Lake with friends to open walleye season. I remember being greatly inspired by Professor Ney in his physics honors course, when he challenged us with the mysteries of “magic numbers” and the broader enigmas of the universe. Like Einstein, Ney reminded us of how little we know. He gave me a sense of intellectual humility. I also remember fabricating balloons in the basement for his cosmic ray research and, later flying them at all hours from a small airport.