Harry Lawrence Wolbers, PhD

Wolbers, Harry 4420970_22826416 TP

Title: Engineering Psychologist
Location: Palm Desert, California, United States

Harry Wolbers, Engineering Psychologist, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Engineers for dedication, achievements, and leadership in engineering and industrial psychology.

Dr. Wolbers became interested in industrial psychology because he wanted to help solve real world problems, in situations where the minimization of accidents and errors could improve or even save human lives. He studied at the California Institute of Technology, earning a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1946. He went on to earn a Master of Arts from the University of Southern California in 1949, and finally a PhD in industrial psychology in 1955. He is also a licensed psychologist in the state of California. While completing his education, Dr. Wolbers served in the United States Navy from 1943, rising to the rank of lieutenant before his honorable discharge in 1951.

In 1948, Dr. Wolbers worked as the vice president of Psychological Services, Inc., transitioning in 1954 to a position with Douglas Aircraft Co., where he worked as chief of systems research until 1963. When Dr. Wolbers began his employment, Douglas Aircraft Co. had recently won a contract from the Office of Naval Research and the Bureau of Aeronautics to create a simplified interface for pilots of fighter planes, as the current model had over 145 knobs, controls, and indicators. This complex design was far too overwhelming for pilots to maintain control under pressure, and Dr. Wolbers worked to distill the indicators and controls down to just two basic displays. This enabled pilots to be far more effective in high-pressure, life-threatening situations.

Continuing his career in industrial psychology, Dr. Wolbers became an adjunct professor in the department of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He taught at the university for over 30 years, from 1954 to 1985. At Douglas Aircraft Co., he rose to the rank of chief program engineer of space systems in 1963. After McDonnell Aircraft merged with Douglas Aircraft Co., Dr. Wolbers took on a role as chief systems engineer of advanced space systems at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in 1974. He became the deputy director of flight crew systems in 1985, a position he held until 1991.

In addition to his professional pursuits, Dr. Wolbers has also maintained memberships to various organizations, including serving as president to the Orange County Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He has been a member of the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. For his excellence and service, he was awarded the Decorated Meritorious Civilian Service Medal in 1995, and an Engineering Merit Award from the San Fernando Valley Engineers Council in 1988. As a testament to his experience, stature, and expertise, Dr. Wolbers was included in the 24th, 25th, and 26th editions of Who’s Who in the West.

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