John Alderman: Sixty Years of Guidance

An Interview

We encourage clients to let us know how they’ve made use of their testing results, and it is always immensely gratifying to hear from them. Recently we received the following note, and wrote back to ask Mr. Alderman if he’d be interested in expanding on his thoughts about testing and the foundation.

Hello Johnson O’Connor:
Just in case you think your influence is not that great, consider that I still remember the ‘Human Engineering Laboratory’ tests that I took in Philadelphia in 1948. The guidance your tests provided have helped me become an engineer, entrepreneur and business consultant for all these years. I have recommended many of my friends to have their teenagers take these tests, and still feel that this information is potentially life-changing for them.

In 1948, there was a Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation office in Philadelphia. Mr. Alderman remembers “…I lived in Charlottesville, VA at the time and my mother took me on the train to Philadelphia specifically for this test. It was life-changing for me at 14.

A few years later, Mr. Alderman started college. “I went to Union College in New York my first year. I was taking a liberal arts program there, which did not suit me well.” He referred to his testing results and decided to transfer to the University of Virginia, where he graduated with a Bachelors’ Degree in Electrical Engineering, in 1962.

SynchotronHe started his career at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1964 working “…in the Accelerator Division on Cosmotron and AGS proton synchrotrons….developing accelerator instrumentation using PDP-8 minicomputers and high-energy physics (cosmic ray) electronic instrumentation.”

We asked Mr. Alderman for his memories and impressions about taking the tests. He replied, “I thought the tests were very fun! I had never done anything like them before. I really liked the wiggly blocks!” He also remembers the summary session as being, “…very well thought out. I listened very carefully and remember the session clearly 61 years later. Essentially these tests set my whole professional career on track.”Mr. Alderman moved on to work at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Nuclear Research labs from 1967 to 1972. “[I] developed instructional and experimental support environment for minicomputer-based laboratory instrumentation.” He left that position to start his own company, Digital Communications Associates, which went public in 1983, with Mr. Alderman as Chairman of the Board. He started another company in 1984, Innovative Technology, which he sold in 1993. Mr. Alderman is now a business consultant in the Atlanta area through yet another company, Innovative Applications, Inc.

When asked if anything in particular stood out, he said, “They said I should do something ‘applied’. I found that was excellent advice. When I was at Brookhaven, I got to know a lot of theorists (Nobel Prize winners!) and discovered I didn’t have a head for theory, but did for applications, just as the tester said.”

Learning about his aptitudes has served Mr. Alderman for his whole professional career—starting out as an engineer, moving into an entrepreneurial role, and finally becoming a consultant, drawing on his years of experience. His story shows that the results can be helpful at various times throughout a person's career, not just at the time of testing. As people evolve, they can change their careers while still taking advantage of their aptitudes.

Mr. Alderman concluded by saying, “The other day, I met a young man who had just taken the tests and was pumped about his experience. It is gratifying to see that your company hasn’t lost the formula in 61 years.”

We are very grateful that Mr. Alderman took the time to get in touch with us, all these years later, and was willing to talk more with us about his testing experience.