The Godwin class of 1958 felt the full force of the launch of Sputnik.
Cornering its own set of German scientists and engineers after WWII, the USSR, unlike the US, employed them immediately to help advance its rocket, jet aircraft, and nuclear industries. Short of resources, a large amount of German technology was underutilized by the Germans during WWII. Given adequate resources, those technologies quickly changed the political landscape of the world. Considered backward by US analysts, the US paid little attention to the USSR after the war until it detonated its own nuclear weapon in about 1949, using to a large extent stolen plans from the US effort. In the early 1950s the USSR detonated a hydrogen weapon, and the only thing the US could then hope is that the USSR had no effective way to deliver the device to the US.
On October 4, 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik. While now known to have been largely a stunt, it nevertheless changed US perceptions about the USSR instantly, and initially created grave concern in the US about the quality of US education, and the ability to produce the quality and quantity of scientists and engineers that would now be needed. German rocket scientists and engineers in the USSR had been hired to help the USSR, which already had a tradition in rocketry dating back to the 1930s, get up to speed with German advances made during the war. Serge Korelev, the "Russian von Braun," largely unknown to the West, used that help to create the R-7 rocket. Used to launch Sputnik, it was not lost on the West that the same rocket could be used to deliver atomic weapons to the West.
So this was the world the class of 1958 graduated into. Massive government spending in education, the military, research of all kinds, and the civilian spending that would go along with it, ignited an era of unprecedented prosperity. But education would not be the same in the US for the next 20 years or so. High school students would be encouraged to pursue careers in science, science programs sprang up everywhere, and rocket science became a glamorous field. The German scientists the US had previously made just sit around for years after the war were turned loose, and the result was the US landing people on the moon within 12 years.
The positive changes to the world following the launch of Sputnik were almost as dramatic as the were negative for the class of 1929 as the Great Depression widened its grip. While the class of 1958 did not benefit much from the improvements in secondary education that would follow, it certain graduated into a world with dramatically improved opportunities. And the class was the first in a while that graduated into a world where there were at least no major hot wars occurring, a situation that would last for another six years or so. So all in all the Godwin class of 1958 had every reason to expect to live in a prosperous land with their opportunities limited only by their own goals and efforts. Jobs in science and engineering would be plentiful for another 15 years or so.
The cover of the 1958 class annual.
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The entire 1958 class annual, made available for scanning by by Bob Traetz, class of 1962, is presented below. To view the pages, simply left click on the page numbers. Each page has been scanned at about 150% of its original size in order to make some of the details easier to see. You might have to move the image around in your browser in order to see it all. Be sure to make your browser full screen size for easier viewing.
Also be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of each page; comments and notes are included on some of the pages. Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to the main menu. People should consider contacting me if they have additional information, or comments.
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