Paul A. Shaw                        Inducted 1986 - Class of 1937

When at 10:56 p.m. on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon, his first words were, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It was largely through the efforts of a Woodward High School graduate that those immortal words could be heard by earthbound mortals.

Paul A. Shaw, a 1937 Woodward graduate who is being honored posthumously, designed the antenna system which made it possible for the Apollo 11 astronauts to communicate with the earth from the moon, 240,000 miles away. For his contribution, his name is inscribed on the Smithsonian Institution’s Apollo-Saturn 5 Roll of Honor, which has been described as "a unique volume dedicated to recording for all time the names of individuals who so diligently over the years put forth their energy and skills to make possible mankind’s greatest expedition, that of sending three men to the moon and returning them to earth safely."

 

After graduation from Woodward, Mr. Shaw served nearly 10 years in the Navy, including World War II duty, then returned to Toledo and enrolled in the University of Toledo to begin work toward a degree in electrical engineering. He began his college studies at the same time his elder son was entering elementary school, and to support his family he worked nights and weekends as a radio station engineer. When he graduated from UT in 1954, his wife and four children witnessed the ceremony. In 1955, the Shaws moved to California, where Mr. Shaw subsequently took advanced courses at the University of California, Los Angeles, in electro-magnetic radiation.

In California, where the Shaws made their home in Malibu, Mr. Shaw began along association with the Boeing Corp. He was a research engineering specialist for Boeing in the years that he was associated with the Apollo project. For five of those years, from 1964 to 1969, he was assigned to New Orleans as a Boeing representative on the Apollo-Saturn 5 booster project. It was during this time that he developed and perfected the basic design for the antennas used on the Apollo flights.

Mr. Shaw was to explain later in an article which appeared in the hometown Malibu newspaper that Apollo 11 was equipped with 16 antennas. They were installed on the three boosters, the service module, and the spacecraft itself. The antennas, the article said, were of varied types - - tracking antennas, antennas for the return to earth, command-destruct antennas in event of an aborted mission, deep-space or high-gain antennas. Mr. Shaw designed the plans and specifications for all of them.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded him a certificate and bronze medal for "distinguished participation" in the Apollo project.

Mr. Shaw had retired from Boeing before his death on the 4th of July in 1985, at the age of 68.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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