2016 Distinguished Alumnus: Carl V. Larson (BS ’52, Mechanical Engineering)
The 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented on Saturday, May 21, during the 79th annual Seminar Day. Each week, the Caltech Alumni Association will share a story about a recipient.
Larson grew up on Mercer Island in Lake Washington, at a time when it was only accessible by ferry and there were about 300 residents. "It was incredibly isolated and quiet," Larson recalls. He arrived at Caltech in 1948 with the intention of studying chemistry, but switched to mechanical engineering.
"I had the utmost respect for the theorists, but soon learned I wasn't one of them," Larson laughs. "Maybe it was survival. I figured, 'Better to graduate as an engineer than flunk as a chemist or theoretical physicist.'" After graduation, Larson joined the military, serving three years as a meteorologist stationed in South Korea and Japan.