Employee Portrait Gallery—Charlie Peters

spacer Employee Portrait of the Week - Charlie Peters
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Charlie Peters tries out a new milling machine that was delivered to the shop in March 1980 while he was working on an early WHOI mass spectrometer for Bill Jenkins’s lab. (Photo by Shelley Dawicki)

 

During 28 years in the WHOI machine shop, Charlie Peters was a key player in the design and creation of a variety of oceanographic instruments. He came to the institution in 1969 as a machinist with training at the New Bedford Vocational High School, mechanical engineering studies at New Bedford and Southeastern Massachusetts technological institutes, and work experience in several machine shops. At WHOI, he was promoted to senior machinist and then experimental machinist in the 1970s.

Two of the WHOI scientists he worked with extensively are Bill Jenkins and Fred Sayles. Charlie spent nearly two years building two mass spectrometers for Bill. “It was definitely an interactive experience,” Bill says, “and a delightful one at that. Charlie had a warm, homey New England (almost down-Easter) charm about him and loved to tell stories about growing up in New England. He took enormous pride in his work—as you would expect from any true craftsman. Charlie seemed to me the kind of guy who epitomized the pioneering spirit that fueled the early days of the Institution. He could make anything from anything. He was an innovative thinker, who could design and build an instrument with only verbal instructions or a rough sketch, and often improve on the idea.”

Fred, who worked with Charlie on his bottom lander, adds that Charlie “made a great contribution to the development of innovative science at the Institution. Charlie's skill made much of the work I did during my career at WHOI possible—and he prevented more than one disaster. I’m sure that this applies to many others as well.”

Off work, he was an active member of the community in Acushnet, where he lived most of his life and operated the Peters Family Orchard and Cider Mill with his wife and son. Charlie died in 1997 at age 54.

 

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