Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Skunk Wha?

OK, several asked what was that Skunk Works reference yesterday. Same for some on my Facebook. Back when we were separate departments, my communications office took great pride in being where we did more with less and invented unique solutions to get around expensive problems (pioneering stable stat monitor distribution with surplus gear comes to mind -- when that was a thousands of dollar proposition in the late 1990s).

Reason it comes to mind was a passing reference the other day by the new University Relations head person at Arkansas to the original Lockheed Martin "Skunk Works." Here's the whole little legend that once graced the introduction pages of our former staff manual. Alumni of the Skunk Works, enjoy.

Welcome to the Skunk Works
During the Second World War, a crew of innovative technicians at
the Lockheed Aircraft Company were turned loose to scheme up answers
to impossible design problems. Under the direction of legendary aircraft
engineer Kelly Johnson, the special operations unit gave the country
some of its most unique aircraft.

After the war, the Cold War took the Lockheed engineers -- literally
-- to another level. The government needed a spy plane that would fly
higher, faster and farther than any previously imagined. Many companies
laughed at the government specifications. Conventional wisdom said it
simply could not be done. Not Lockheed.

Instead, the engineers rolled up their sleeves and created in record
time first the U-2, then the SR-71 Blackbird. These ultra top secret projects,
known as black budget for their secret nature, were the first of many
next generation innovations by the group of can-do designers now known
by the mysterious label of The Skunk Works.

The spirit of the Skunk Works is alive today in the Women's Communications
Office. We strive to be creative and innovative. We want to
stay on the cutting edge of technology, and harness it for our needs. We
take the tough assignment of building interest in women's athletics as a
challenge and we deliver.

So, on behalf of the Lady Razorbacks, welcome to the Skunk Works.

Dr. Bill Smith, Associate AD for Communications
(And chief skunk)


Firefighter/Paramedic said...

FYI, the engineer that spear headed Skunk Works was Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, not Kelly Thompson.

Bill Smith said...

Thanks -- I knew that, but a regrettable mistype in this piece. Fixed now.