Walt Reil's Science & Education Directory

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About the Author

Last Update:  May 29, 2012

Stargazing on Caliente Mountain
Caliente Mountain Trip


Walt's Astro Den
Walt's Astro Den


JPL Solar System Ambassador Presentation
JPL SSA Presentation

Born in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, in 1953, I grew up traveling the world with my family, as my father was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, beginning his 30-year career as a B-24 bomber pilot over Germany during World War II, then a communications expert at the Naha Air Force Base on the island of Okinawa, south of Japan, in the late 50's, to being base commander of the Mt. Hebo Radar Station in Hebo, Oregon, in the mid-1960's, and finally a tour of duty in communications in Ankara, Turkey, in the late 60's and 70's.

My high school years were spent in the tiny logging, fishing and tourist coastal community of Waldport, Oregon, and the large capital city of Ankara, Turkey, during which my parents and I listened to the Apollo 11 lunar landing on BBC radio on July 20, 1969.  I graduated from Oregon State University in 1976 with a BS degree in Construction Engineering Management.  And, I had married before my senior (5th) year at OSU.

St. Johns, Newfoundland


Mt. Hebo Radar Station


Waldport, Oregon

Since graduating from OSU, I have spent the past 36 years in nuclear power plant construction and operation, including ten years with Bechtel Power Corporation starting in San Francisco, working on the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania, Colstrip goal generating station located in Montana, and Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station near Sacramento.  The past 26 years have been with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.  Working in PG&E's Cost & Scheduling and Business Finance organizations, my area of concentration at Diablo Canyon has been financial management and cost reporting and plant operational performance reporting.

Pottstown, Pennsylvania


Colstrip, Montana


Rancho Seco
Sacramento, California


Diablo Canyon
Avila Beach, California

I have been happily married to my wife Julie for 37 years.  Her degree from OSU and background is in Accounting.  We both worked for Bechtel Power Corporation in San Francisco, then Pottstown, Pennsylvania, then Pleasant Hill, California and finally Elk Grove, California.  While working for six years on the construction of the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania, we owned a 26-foot Pearson sailboat, enjoying the sailing life on Chesapeake Bay.  In 1986 we moved to Atascadero, California, where I started work for PG&E at Diablo Canyon.

Our 26-foot Pearson "Spindrift" in 1981 & 1982

Having two girls, our oldest daughter Wendy graduated from California State University Fullerton in Fine Arts, in 2009, married in 2010 and is working with her husband Zach in their highly successful professional Stillwater Cinematography wedding videography family business.  They are based in Ukiah and travel all over California and outside of the state to support destination weddings.  Our youngest daughter, Robin, graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, California, in Physics in 2010, and is now completing her master's degree in Aerospace Engineering at Cal Poly.  During the summer of 2009 she supported Cal Poly neutrino research at the Gran Sasso National Particle Physics Laboratory a mile underground in Assergi, Italy.  During the summer's of 2010 and 2011 she worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

I have been actively supporting performing arts (band and dance) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education over the past 20 years in Atascadero, as well as around San Luis Obispo County.  It all began when my daughters were in elementary school.  Becoming a member of the Math, Science and Technology Foundation of Atascadero, in the early 1990's, I designed, chaired and directed a team of community volunteers in installing a complete classroom hands-on science laboratory at the Monterey Road Elementary School, including the purchase of all lab furniture and equipment.  The lab was a huge success, but, sadly, was lost a couple years later due to California's new Class Size Reduction program, which gobbled up every classroom that could be found, including Monterey Road's new lab.  That lab has never been restored to operation, even though there is no longer a demand for all classrooms.  There is something very wrong with this picture!

In 2001 I received Atascadero Unified School District's highest recognition for community support of public education, receiving their Phi Delta Kappa Lay Citizen of the Year award.  Later I became President of the Central Coast Astronomical Society, a member of the Discovery Institute of San Luis Obispo, a member of the Endeavour Institute board of directors, and a founding member of the new Central Coast STEM Collaborative.

Since 2004, I have been a volunteer public outreach representative for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a JPL Solar System Ambassador, sharing the wonders of astronomy, space exploration and superior STEM education with schools and community organizations in the form of free, digital, multimedia presentations. 

Since 2009 I have been actively involved in supporting climate science public education outreach, becoming the webmaster for retired astrophysicist Dr. Ray Weymann's Central Coast Climate Science Education website.

My efforts outside of my day job have been focused on fostering and bolstering STEM education activities and programs for children of California's Central Coast.  Knowing that America's system of public education, especially STEM education, is in a very serious condition and badly broken, I feel that my support is needed in supporting our children's and our nation's future progress, prosperity and security. 

STEM education is a critical key to America's future, providing the very bedrock foundation of our nation's economic stability, progress, standard of living, and national security.  We must provide a premier education, the finest on Earth, for our children, our nation's "Most Valuable Natural Resource".


Note:  In the collection of images in the header of this website is an interesting time comparison.  The image on the far left is of my daughter's Robin (on the left) and Wendy taken "several" years ago as they were involved in piano lessons.  Fast forward to the image on the far right of Robin working at the Gran Sasso National Particle Physics Lab in Italy.  Robin is with her partner Ali (on the left) studying lab operations in action.

Walter Reil, Atascadero, California
walter (dot) reil (@ sign) hotmail (dot) com