Farewell to our members

Brian Waters passed away at the age of 73 on March 7, 2012, in Tacoma, Wash.

By W.S. Sellman, PhD

Brian Waters passed away at the age of 73 on March 7, 2012, in Tacoma, Wash.

He is survived by Saundra, his wife of 50 years; three daughters, Tracy, Brianna, and Shonna; and six grandchildren. Born in East Orange, New Jersey, Brian grew up in Trenton and New York City. In 1965, Brian graduated with high honors and a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with minors in mathematics and psychology, from the University of Nebraska. He went on to complete a master’s degree in 1969 in educational research and testing and a doctoral degree in educational evaluation and research design in 1974. Both of these degrees were earned from Florida State University. Brian also found time to earn a MBA degree in management from Southern Illinois University in 1975.

Brian’s professional career spanned over 40 years - 20 years in the U.S. Air Force followed by an additional 24 years at the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO). Retiring as a lieutenant colonel, his Air Force assignments included tours as a navigator, rescue controller, research psychologist, and R&D manager. While flying C-130 Hercules over Vietnam, Brian was selected as the Military Airlift Command’s Outstanding Combat Airlift Navigator of the Year for 1971, for his uncanny ability to accurately drop cargo into back country villages and military outposts.

In 1973, Brian traded his navigator’s flight suit for the more mundane life at the Air Force’s personnel and training research establishments. For the next seven years, Brian conducted and managed both flying and technical training research (to include flight simulation, instructional systems development, computer-based instruction, and computer adaptive testing) at the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory. His last Air Force job was director of educational evaluation at the Air Force War College, where in addition to his program evaluation responsibilities, he co-edited a book entitled, Managing the Air Force.

Brian came to HumRRO in 1980 as a senior staff scientist, working in the Manpower Program Analysis Division. A year later, he became Associate Director of that division and in 1985 was promoted to program manager of the Recruitment/Manpower Systems Department. At HumRRO Brian specialized in enlisted recruiting and market analysis, personnel selection and job classification, computer adaptive testing, sampling methodology, large-scale survey research, and military manpower analysis. He directed projects for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army Recruiting Command, the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Office of Naval Research, and the Defense Manpower Data Center, to name just a few.

During his time at HumRRO, Brian made signal contributions to military personnel management. Based on his early work in computer adaptive testing, he assisted the Department of Defense in converting the paper-and-pencil enlistment test to a computer adaptive version administered at military entrance processing stations across the country. He also co-edited a book that documented the policy and research aspects of that development and implementation entitled, Computer Adaptive Testing: From Inquiry to Operation, which was published by the American Psychological Association.

Brian was involved in both the 1980 and 1997 Profile of American Youth studies, during which the DoD enlistment test was administered to nationally representative samples of young people to establish contemporary norms and to compare the aptitudes of new recruits with civilian youth. In addition, he worked with the Military Services and the National Academy of Sciences to help design the research and analysis that led to the DoD Recruit Quality Benchmarks model. This model, which quantifies the statistical relationship between measures of recruit quality, recruiting and training costs, and hands-on job performance, is used to develop and defend annual military recruiting budgets. The model is widely accepted within DoD, the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, and by Congressional staffers.

Throughout his career, Brian contributed significantly to the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Educational Research Association, the National Council for Measurement in Education, and the International Military Testing Association, through sustained professional service. He served in virtually every leadership position within the Society for Military Psychology (APA’s Division 19), to include President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Member-at- Large. The caliber and extent of Brian’s contributions resulted in his receiving many honors and awards. As an Air Force psychologist, he was awarded the Air Force Systems Command Certificate of Merit for instructional technology research; he also was recipient of Division 19’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Military Psychology. Brian was an APA and Division 19 Fellow.

In addition to his program management responsibilities at HumRRO, Brian was a prolific researcher. He published scholarly articles in Applied Psychological Measurement, Journal of Educational Research, Human Factors, Behavioral Research Methods and Instrumentation, Educational Technology, and Journal of Military Psychology. Brian also authored book chapters on military enlistment testing, entrance standards and recruit quality, computer adaptive testing, and adaptability screening, and he organized and chaired symposia as well as presented papers at numerous national and international conferences.

Brian also had a life full of active and spirited outside interests – primarily reading, sports, bridge, and golf. Not only did his mathematical skills stand him in good stead for his day job, but they also greatly facilitated his bridge play as well. In 1985, Brian’s four-person bridge team won the National Swiss Team Championship (for intermediate players), beating over 500 other teams in a week-long competition. And of course, the stories of Brian’s prowess on the golf course are legend. He was noted for hitting shots that his playing companions had difficulty believing were possible, given the laws of physics. In high school he was on the golf team with the son of Robert Trent Jones, one of America’s most famous golf course architects. Watching Bobby Jr. hit golf balls is probably one of the main reasons that Brian joined the Air Force.

For those who had the privilege of knowing Brian, he was incredibly bright yet kind and humble at the same time. A loyal friend, he literally would do anything for anyone. Once during the blizzard of 1982, (in fact the day the Air Florida airliner flew into the 14th Street Bridge) when a woman driving in front of Brian slipped off the steep, snowcovered road and rolled down a hill, Brian immediately rushed down to pull her from the car. Yet, he could also be stubborn when he was convinced he was right – be it bidding a bridge hand or selecting a golf club for a challenging shot. In short, Brian had strong opinions, though occasionally he was known to listen to others and to take advice.

Brian waters touched the lives of a great many people. He had special, personal relationships with each of them, and he cared deeply about their welfare and well-being. He had a ready sense of humor and could laugh equally at himself and at the many ironies of life. Universally respected and widely acclaimed both within and outside the military psychology community, brian was a true gentleman, who gave freely of his intellect, wisdom, and talents. He filled his life with honor, and he will be remembered with love and respect. His outstanding professional accomplishments and his influence on the field of military psychology will long remain, and he will forever be in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.