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                  Amos Lu

My Family and I
I live in Great Falls, VA with my wife, Hwang Jinn-Kang () and two children (See family).   While working on my dissertation, I met Jinn-Kang, who came to the USA to go to grad school, but was born and raised in Taiwan of parents from mainland China.  We were married on May 17, 1981, and the only event that has been as life changing as that is when our two fantastic children: Skye Weihua Lu (), and Amos Jihua Lu – “AJ”
() entered the world in 1990 and 1992.

Happily, after enrollment in Japanese and Chinese schools, Skye and AJ speak Mandarin Chinese and Japanese fluently.   Well, Mandarin Chinese was not an option, Jinn-Kang and I speak Chinese at home and we also hired child care providers that only spoke Chinese.  This was pretty easy to do after the June 4, 1989 TienAnMen incident – there were over 50,000 mainland Chinese parents who were visiting their sons or daughters attending grad school in the USA; all of these “extra people” were granted asylum by the President.   There is nothing that I enjoy more than being with my family.  We do everything together especially travel, ski, and water sports.   Skye is now coming up on her sophomore year of college majoring in Pre-Med and Biological Sciences.   AJ is coming up on his senior year of high school, and seems to like anything having to do with water (on the swim team, certified SCUBA diver, certified life guard, taking Oceanography).

Little Things About Me
Amos Lu is not the name I was born with.   The names of my parents, brother, sister, and myself were given to us by an immigration officer in the early 60’s as a part of immigration.  My mother and father never called me by the name “Amos”.   The name given to me by my parents and the name on my birth certificate is .

All of my relatives on both sides of my family are in mainland China.   My parents were the only ones out of their respective families to come out of China in 1951; two years after the communists took over mainland.   My father resisted the Japanese in Manchuria from 1930 until 1945 (from when he was 5 to 20 years old).   He was captured, tortured, and then escaped from the Japanese … then there was the struggle with the communists.   My father and mother walked from Beijing to Hong Kong to get out of China, and were among the large mass of refugees in Hong Kong.   My father contracted Cholera, but fortunately he survived (unlike most cases in HK at the time), and saw my brother born in 1952.   My parents wanted to go to the United States, but the best they could do was migrate to Okinawa where my sister was born in 1954.   Still trying to find a better environment to survive, my parents managed to migrate to Japan (even though my father hated the Japanese), and I was born in Tokyo in 1955.   Thus we were in an environment where my siblings and I spoke Chinese at home, but Japanese outside the home, including school.  My parents managed to immigrate to the US in the 60’s; we entered Graham Road Elementary school in 1964, followed by Whittier and FCHS.

In 1979 after obtaining my undergrad and grad degrees, I took off for China to visit all my relatives.  I spent 6 months travelling from place to place to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, and nieces that I had never met before.   I had to pick up dialects that I was not familiar with as I only spoke the main language: Mandarin, and of course virtually nobody in China spoke English since it had been banned for many years.

Every summer since I married Jinn-Kang, but before we had children, we took 6 weeks off to visit family and friends in China, Taiwan, and Japan. After Skye and AJ were born, we still went to the Orient pretty often, but not as long duration.

13 Memories of People at FCHS (I really enjoyed reading Ronnie Taylor’s list)
1 – Brian Hart – in spring of our junior year, with the encouragement of Mrs. Corbin, I worked on a science fair project in the area of Electrophoresis.  Unfortunately on the day of the science fair, when I needed to present my project, I was scheduled to work at my after-school job (Giant Food parcel pick-up).   Mrs. Corbin recruited Brian to wear a suit jacket and tie, pretend he was Amos Lu, and present my science fair project. I don’t think anyone knew this other than Mrs. Corbin, myself, and Brian – until now.   How Brian passed himself off as a person with a Chinese surname I still do not know.   Thanks Brian.
2 – Ronnie Taylor – 1950 something classic car, almost perfect cursive handwriting, Captain of Graham Road Elementary School Patrols, late interest in girls, and long loping strides when running.   Grinding 12” diameter blank for a reflecting telescope for the Astronomy (or was it Science?) club.
3 – Hucky Greenburg – teachers referred to him as Robert, but nobody else did; probably the originator of “all stars”. Looked the same at 30th reunion.   Timing at track meets for high school (yup, bump into Hucky at meets for our daughters while we’re both volunteer timers).
4 -- Richard Hughes – brand new 6” Celestron reflecting telescope with equatorial mount and clock drive, brand new orangish-red Camaro; such good fortune while still in high school!   Woodley pool – swimming, table tennis, and teen nights.  Long drive while in high school to Ocean City … brother driving, brother and sister’s friends plus me and Richard all in a 1964 Dodge Dart.
5 – Leonard Pumphrey – bottle rockets, football games at the church on Rt 7 with Tom Jugus and others.   Three Stooges sayings and imitations.
6 – Jeff Place – party at his house, first time I had tried alcohol, and I discovered that I did not enjoy it.  I still don’t drink – but I saw plenty of people in college get sick from drinking and worse yet ruin themselves doing drugs.
7 -- Debbie Lucas & Debbie Feurenstein – always smiling, always nice to see them at the hall locker adjacent to mine.   Debbie F. used Debbie L’s locker.   Debbie F. corrected my English in the 5th grade while in Mrs. Coyle’s class at Graham Road Elementary.
8 – Diane Aker and Betsy DiSilvio – two others that had brothers in the same class as mine (class of ’70).
9 – Wanda Jackson – amazing cheerleader, amazing movement!
10 – April Guice – can speak very quickly while staying coherent; when she speaks my name, all the letters run together (amosloo); bottle rocket exploding under her car with her and Kathy Pazanowski in it (Riichard Hughes was there for sure, but I don’t remember whether it was Ronnie Taylor or Leonard Pumphrey or Hucky Greenburg otherwise)
11 – Mark Waymack – after Jimmy Moss disappeared really seemed to pick up on running the 440 yard dash (56 seconds?).  Major Wells walking in and interrupting an ongoing Calculus class trying to recruit Mark to run track again in senior year.   Star Trek computer game off a teletype machine – 6 subroutines – latrek, satrek, etc.
12 – Kevin Hoover – Graham Road Elementary Patrol Lieutenant.   Arguments with Mr. Dowell in Humanities. Discussion in 6th grade regarding holding onto respect for myself and my origins; timing seemed to be perfect – it was during a period of time that a few of the tougher people around were into taunting/badgering focused on race.   This continued to happen sporadically at Whittier and FCHS, useful to remember discussion.
13 – Mr. Dowell – the right teacher for the right class.   All that took this Humanities class were so fortunate that it was offered at FCHS with this teacher.  Still amazed me that Mr. Dowell was a chain smoker during my brother and sister’s years, and after health issues, dropped a huge amount of weight followed by cessation of smoking (did he truly stop?).

What I Did After Graduating From FCHS I didn’t attend our FCHS graduation because I was working that day, and actually never attended any of my graduation ceremonies throughout my college years.  In high school it was because I was focused on making money for college, in later years the ceremonies just collided with other events.

I went to Penn State University (class of ’77) for undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering.   At the time I was applying to colleges, my older brother Luke was in his junior year at VA Tech, and my older sister Mary was in her freshman year at UVA; I did not want to follow them into their colleges.   The other real reason for going to Penn State was that they offered the most money (least cost) to go to school!

After undergrad, I joined the Westinghouse Defense and Space Center in Baltimore, MD as an engineer in the radar division.  Such a coincidence that I bumped Richard Hughes, whom I considered my best friend during my formative years at FCHS.   Richard graduated from VT at the same time I graduated from Penn State, and ended up working on electronic systems for national defense at the same location as myself, but in a slightly different department.  I continued living with my parents in Broyhill Park, while carpooling with Richard (also living with his parents in Broyhill Park) and commuting to Baltimore every day.  A short time later Richard transferred to a division in Hunt Valley, MD.

Westinghouse paid for my graduate degree from GWU in Engineering – MS in Communications Theory and Computer Heuristics, but after 3 years of designing and engineering radar signal processing systems, I was ready to move on and do other things.   I found a tiny little privately-held company (could be considered a technology start-up company) called BDM that was willing to pay for my pursuit of a Doctorate in mathematics.   It was at this time I reconnected to another person who graduated from FCHS in ’70 (Steve Pohlig – same year as my brother).  Steve was pretty good at math, he got a perfect 800 in the math SAT while at FCHS, and received his Doctorate from Stanford University in the mathematics underlying public-key cryptography.   Steve worked under the “names” in this field: Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie.   I became interested in this general field, and BDM gave me a double opportunity: allowed me to complete my dissertation at MIT with full funding (with the other “names” in this field – Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman), and helped me learn about building a business based on technology.   Ironically, Steve ended up working at MIT Lincoln Labs, and I believe he is still there.

We were able to rapidly build BDM into a fairly sizable business, and in 1988 sold the company to Ford Aerospace (a division of Ford Motor Company).   I met yet another FCHS graduate while at BDM: Mona Yassine (younger sister of Riad by about a dozen years).   She worked as an admin assistant to a Corporate VP. When we sold the company, the few “young” senior executives (myself included) signed multi-year employment contracts to stay on board and build the company even further – all of the older generation were gone (older than 65, and some older than 70, and retired in Florida or elsewhere).  Within two years (in 1990) Ford Motor decided to divest itself of any non-automobile related business, which included Ford Aerospace and BDM.  Loral Aerospace was the winning bidder for Ford Aero and BDM, but we decided to try to buy ourselves out of the deal.   This was during a period of time that the real estate market was still down, and defense stocks were way down.   We were able to buy ourselves back on October 24, 1990 (I always remember this date because it coincides with Jinn-Kang’s birthday) for a very reasonable price with the assistance of the Carlyle Group.   It was nice having control of the company again, and we accelerated the growth of the company through both organic growth as well as strategic acquisitions.   After we tripled the size of the company, we went public, and then we sold the company to TRW in 1996 at our peak (7,000 employees worldwide).   TRW later sold itself to Northrop Grumman.   I did not sign any employment contract this time – free to move on to other things.

I along with one other BDM executive took control of a small specialty company in 1996 called Space Applications Corporation and began building the enterprise.   This was a very fun period of time in that we did some interesting things in the satellite area -- space physics, telemetry, communications, and imaging fields.  We were very much a niche company with about 250 employees, 60% of whom had their PhD’s.  Our primary clients were NASA, NOAA, the DOD, almost all the aerospace firms involved in space, and various special agencies.  We never intended to sell this company, but we ended up deciding to sell Space Applications in 1999 because an aerospace firm made an unusual offer for the company.

In 1999 I started two venture capital firms: Capitalyst LLC, and The Columbia Group LLC, both specializing in early-stage investments of start-up companies.   I wanted to invest in others and give them a chance to succeed, while of course making a good ROI.   One or both of these companies were written up by Potomac Tech Journal (publisher no longer in existence), Washington Business News, and others.   Amazingly, what they said was mostly true and mostly positive.   During the early 2000’s we sold Capitalyst’s operations (principally Boston based), but kept The Columbia Group (Washington DC based) to this day.  A couple of “start-up” companies that I am currently invested in and/or helping: and   Actually neither one is at the start-up stage anymore – these two have advanced far beyond that.


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