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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Dr. Charles Franklin Kettering


The New York Times
December 16, 1922

Inventor of Delco System Addresses Harvard Medical Society.

Dr. Charles Franklin Kettering of Dayton, Ohio, who invented the Delco starting, lighting and ignition system for automobiles and perfected the ignition system used on the Liberty motors, addressed the Harvard Medical Society at the Harvard Club last night on the subject "An Engineer's Perspective of Modern Science."  He declared "the day of the cross-roads inventor is over."

Engineering schools, he said, should train students rigorously in the fundamental sciences, in which he included psychology and economics, rather than make specialists of them.  Experimenters often fail, he said, because at some stage of their work they overlooked some minor scientific detail.

"I am a great believer in the law of accident of invention," said Dr. Kettering.  "By some slip somewhere and the grace of God a man discovers something new and then calmly tells exactly how he arrived at his discovery step by step."

Dr. Kettering is President of the General Motors Research Corporation, Vice President of the Dayton Engineering Laboratories, the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company and the General Motors Corporation and is a Trstee of Ohio State University.

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