Skip to content Skip to navigation
137 Old Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897 Tel: 203-762-3950

Yankee Innovators: Steamships to Silicon Chips


A collaboration between the Wilton Historical Society and Wilton Library
January through March 2018

In the 11th year of the collaboration between Wilton Library and Wilton Historical Society, the scholarly lecture series will focus on the theme of “Yankee Innovators: Steamships to Silicon Chips.” The four-part series will explore the insights, innovations, ingenuity and inventiveness of forward-thinking people, organizations and projects in America’s history. The series is made possible by The Wilton League of Women Voters and Friends of Louise Herot.

Receptions follow the talks. There is no charge for the series, but donations are always welcomed. Registration is strongly encouraged for this very popular series; please register separately for each lecture. To register, please click on the registration links below or call Wilton Library’s circulation desk at 203-762-6334. Please note the different locations for each of the lectures.

Building the First 'Steamship' in History - John Laurence Busch

Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Historian and author John Laurence Busch will kick off the four-part series by using his deep knowledge of early steam vessels to explore the interaction between humankind and the first time-and-space-altering 'high technology.' He'll attempt to re-calibrate our minds and take us back to the early 1800s before showing why the proposition of making the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a 'steamship' was met with a mixture of skepticism and fear. He then will show how New London native Captain Moses Rogers addressed that skepticism and fear by designing and building the first example of globalized high technology in history. The presentation is based upon his book, Steam Coffin: Captain Moses Rogers and The Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier.

John Laurence Busch is an independent historian who focuses upon the interaction between humanity and technology, with a particular specialization in the first generation of steam-powered vessels.  He has devoted years of research to discovering the true story of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah. The result is his book, Steam Coffin, the most descriptive account of the saga of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah ever written.  Steam Coffin has received positive reviews from over two dozen periodicals based in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. For additional background, please visit www.steamcoffin.com. See registration link for more details.

Location:Wilton Library
Lecture sponsor: Mary Gail and Jerome Gristina
Moderator: Steve Hudspeth

Shooting the Moon: Space Technology, Earthbound Nature, and the New Left During the Vietnam War - Neil Maher

Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Neil Maher’s lecture will examine the shared history of the space race to the moon and the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 1970s. He will begin by describing NASA’s history, often hidden from public view, of developing space technologies for use in the war in Southeast Asia. He will then highlight opposition to such efforts by anti-war activists from the New Left who protested on college campuses across the United States. He will conclude by analyzing how such opposition forced NASA to scrap its space technology developed for the war and begin developing alternative space technologies that would aid developing countries across Southeast Asia.

Neil M. Maher is an associate professor of history in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark, where he teaches environmental and political history on the undergraduate and graduate levels. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1986, Maher received his Ph.D. from New York University in 2001. In March 2017 he published his second book, Apollo in the Age of Aquarius (Harvard University Press).  His first book, Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement (Oxford University Press, 2008), received the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award in 2009 for the best monograph in conservation history. He has been invited to give public lectures at institutions including the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. See registration link for more details.

Location: Wilton Library
Lecture sponsor: Janice and Michael Hess
Moderator: Max Gabrielson

Leading the Helicopter Industry into the 21st Century - Andrew Driver

Sunday, February 25, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Wilton resident and Sikorsky Aircraft's Andrew Driver will provide a short history of how Igor Sikorsky emigrated from Kiev to the Nutmeg State, founded Sikorsky Aircraft, invented the helicopter, and launched an entire industry which today generates over $20 billion in global new helicopter sales each year. He will provide a summary of significant helicopter models the company has produced and then move into current day products and trends in the industry. Andrew will end the presentation with a look into the future and discuss how Sikorsky is leading the paradigm shift the helicopter industry is currently experiencing as a result of technology advances.

Andrew Driver has worked at Sikorsky Aircraft for 29 years.  He spent the first half of his career at Sikorsky in Engineering, during which he led manufacturing engineering efforts for the development of the transmission and rotor head for the S-92 helicopter.  The S-92 helicopter is used mainly for moving offshore oil workers to and from oil rigs, and also for head of state missions.  It is slated to be the next Marine One, and will begin flying the President of the United States in 2020.  Andrew was also a critical member of the team that secured the development contract for the US Marine Corp next generation heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion, which is set to enter service in 2019.   See registration link for more details.

Location: Wilton Historical Society
Lecture sponsor: Lila and Buck Griswold
Moderator: Max Gabrielson

Faster, Smaller, Greener: How Semiconductor Lithography Enables Innovations All Around Us - Chip Mason

Sunday, March 18, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

ASML Fellow Christopher 'Chip' Mason will conclude the series with a presentation on the wide variety of innovations that are made possible by semiconductor lithography. As the manufacturer of the machines that are used to make silicon chips, Wilton's ASML is one of the world's most important companies in this field.

Mr. Mason is an ASML Fellow and an expert in alignment systems, focus systems, and reticle stage technology.

Location: Wilton Historical Society
Lecture sponsor: Chris and Dan Delmar
Moderator: Steve Hudspeth

on the Web for research, library services, and local information