My First Job: Robert Beatty
FGCU’s Lutgert College of Business dean was involved in nuclear war planning before academia.
I received my degree in computer science from Texas Christian University. When I came out, that was about ’84-’85, there were some decent jobs, but they weren’t really going to challenge me and or allow me to build my knowledge base. So I think it was a Friday, and I was going to various restaurants at happy hour so I could afford to eat. I had just pawned my microwave oven because I had no money. So I get a call from the Air Force that said, ‘If you want to join, you need to make a decision by Thursday and be at camp in a week.’ I thought: You know what, they provide food, they provide housing, and I liked the military [ROTC] when I was in college. So I joined the United States Air Force and went to Officer Training School down in beautiful Medina Annex, in San Antonio. I graduated from there and was stationed at Omaha, Nebraska, a Strategic Air Command headquarters, as a nuclear war planner. I got to work on some amazing hardware and software. We were doing the nuclear war planning for the United States at the time, and that was during the Cold War with Russia. So I got to work with very, very bright people on a very serious mission. We would actually do the coding for all the nuclear war plans. We worked 24 hours a day, and I learned more in that four years in the Air Force than I would ever learn anytime else. The military was not on my radar screen, but I will attribute all my successes and all of my future abilities to be successful to my time in the military. I learned that having a good work ethic can carry you a long way, if you’re willing to go in and put in the effort. Because of the mission, I was working with highly dedicated and highly committed people. I never went to work doubting for one second that the people around me didn’t have my back.