AUTOBIOGRAPHY BEFORE PHOTOGRAPHY - lightsongfineart

John Wawrzonek

Autobiography and General Commentary (incomplete)

As I write this in March 2019 and age 77, I spend a great deal of time thinking about how I got here: an MIT engineer with three degrees in electrical engineering, plus a 23 year career in engineering and marketing at Bose Corporation. I was Bose Corporation's fifth employee.

I had only the slightest hint at a child that the larger part of my life would be spent in photography. My father had brought home a 4x5 press camera when I was eight, and I spent some days trying to sync the flash to the shutter with no luck, if I remember correctly. For the next 20 years or so I dabbled in photography, mostly black and white.

Also at eight years old I began classiczl piano lessens and that was to strongly shape my life and continues to do so this day. Photography only started to take a serious hold in my early thirties. Instead piano lead to a love of classiczl music and in my teens an intense interest in high-fidelity music systems.

I think my father's profession as an engineer rubbed off and I built a fairly elaborate electronics lab so I could build my high fidelity music system. This was a common hobby in the 1950s and when I started thinking about college it seemed natural to take up electrical engineering. I was accepted at three fine schools but there was no choice as far as my father was concerned. "MIT is the best school; you're going to MIT." MIT was a bit intimidating, but my electronics hobby set me up fairly well. When as a sophmore I walked into my first EE lab I said :"I'm Home." I lettered my lab book in india ink and got an A+. Later labs were not so easy. Prof. Amar Bose taught the first course in electrical engineering in 1960. It was his first time teaching and my first EE course. He was a fabulous teacher, demanding but understanding. He give us as much time we needed to do our last hour exam so nerves did not interfere with our test results.

I kept up with my black and white photography using the student darkroom. It was fun and a good diversion. I did well enough to be admitted to graduate school, but not at all sure of a direction. Hi-Fi music systems did not seem an appropriate career for an MIT engineer so for my masters degree I followed a professor I had liked into solid state phycis.

This did not work out well. My experimental thesis topic turned into a theoritical one so my love of lab work was wasted. And I simply found the subject not interesting and squandered study time building hi-fi amplifiers.

Fortunately the first ephiphiny of my life struck: "Why don't you do what you love to do." There was one faculty member I knew was working in music systems and that was Amar Bose, and so I knocked on his door. It was the best choice I could have made in the country if not the world. MIT offered a course called "Special Studies in Electrical Engineering" which meant anything you could get a professor to give you a grade on. Dr. Bose took me to his lab and it was an even stronger reaction coning home, and it was the beginning of the rest of my life.

After completeing my bachelor's degree I had litte idea what would be next. Hi-fi muaic systems did not seem to square with an MIT education so for my master's degree I simply choose a professor I had liked named Herbert Horace Woodson and told him I wanted to do an experimental thesis because of my love for lab work. He proposed a topic that implied working on a degree in solid state physics and so phase two of my MIT journey was set.

However, almost before I knew it two problems developed. My experimental master's thesis became a theoritical thesis and I was not enjoying my classes in solid state phyics. It felt like work disconnected from anything I had been interested in and I soon found myself on academic probation and I was spending time in my office building a hi-fi amplifier rather than working on my thesis. This was not a happy time. Something clearly had to change. I did get off academic probation and managed to write a thesis of sorts, although not a particularly good one. Roughly half way through the degree program I knew something had to change or there would be no chance of a PhD and a very disappointed father. So I made one of the 2 or 3 most propitious decisions in my life. It really was an ephinny. I was walking done one of the long corridors of building 20, a WWII barracks building and I suddenly had the most obvious idea. "Why don't you do what you like to do."

I had first learned about Dr. Bose as a freshman from an article in Technology Review, the student newspaper. There was a photograph of what became the 2201 loud speaker and some reference to high level mathametics. There was no other professor working on music systems so I found Professor Bose's office and knocked on the door. It was certainly the most propitious knock in my life, and it altered the rest of my life.

I told Professor Bose about my poor choice of paths to a masters degree and my almost life-long love of music and music systems. Professor Bose took me to his lab and the instant I walked in I knew this was the right choice. I was home again.

Fortunately the engineering departant had a kind of catch all course called "Special Studies in Electrical Engineering" which meant you could do anything that you could get a professor to give you a grade on.

Dr. Bose had my faculty advisor at MIT. I knew him for over fifty years as mebeenntor, colleague and friend. Yet the past 45 years I have spent with photography fairly quickly taking over my life.

I had only the slightest hint at a child that the larger part of my life would be spent in photography. My father had brought home a 4x5 press camera when I was eight, and I spent some days trying to sync the f lash to the shutter. For the next 20 years or so I dabbled in photography, mostly black and white.

Also at eight years old I began classiczl piano lessens and that was to strongly shape my life and continues to do so this day. Photography only started to take a serious hold in my early thirties. Instead piano lead to a love of classiczl music and in my teens an intense interest in high-fidelity music systems.

I think my father's profession as an engineer rubbed off and I built a fairly elaborate electronics lab so I could build my high fidelity music system. This was a common hobby in the 1950s and when I started thinking about college it seemed natural to take up electrical engineering. I was accepted at three fine schools but there was no choice as far as my father was concerned. "MIT is the best school; you're going to MIT.

MIT was a bit intimidating, but my electronics hobby set me up fairly well. When as a sophmore I walked into my first EE lab I said :"I'm Home." I lettered my lab book in india ink and got an A+. Later labs were not so easy. Prof. Amar Bose taught the first course in electrical engineering in 1960. It was his first time teaching and my first EE course. He was a fabulous teacher, demanding but understanding. He give us as much time we needed to do our last hour exam so nerves did not interfere with our test results.

I kept up with my black and white photography using the student darkroom. It was fun and a good diversion. I did well enough to be admitted to graduate school, but not at all sure of a direction. Hi-Fi music systems did not seem an appropriate career for an MIT engineer so for my masters degree I followed a professor I had liked into solid state phycis.

This did not work out well. My experimental thesis topic turned into a theoritical one so my love of lab work was wasted. And I simply found the subject not interesting and squandered study time building hi-fi amplifiers.

Fortunately the first ephiphiny of my life struck: "Why don't you do what you love to do." There was one faculty member I knew was working in music systems and that was Amar Bose, and so I knocked on his door. It was the best choice I could have made in the country if not the world. MIT offered a course called "Special Studies in Electrical Engineering" which meant anything you could get a professor to give you a grade on. Dr. Bose took me to his lab and it was an even stronger reaction coning home, and it was the beginning of the rest of my life.

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