In This Issue

Spotlight on history

Explore the life and research of Julius “ Jay” E. Uhlaner, PhD ( 1917–2015).

By Paul A. Gade, PhD

As I was preparing this column, I received a most welcome package from Marty Wiskoff. In it were some of the very earliest Div. 19 newsletters. As the society's historian and archivist, I can tell you there are no more valuable historical documents than newsletters. They are the source of much of the historical information we have about our society. After I get a chance to go through them, I will bring the membership up to date on what newsletters we have or are accessible in the APA archives at APA headquarters. I will also be archiving those newsletters in the APA archives along with three bankers' boxes of the society's historical materials that I have been carting around for about 20 years. If any of you have documents or newsletters from previous years, please let me know and I will see that those get archived as well.

Julius Earl Uhlaner, PhD (1917–2015)

At the midyear meeting I asked for help with the history committee. As the society historian and archivist, I can no longer do it all myself. I need help for a variety of historical projects such as identifying people to write profiles of our important ancestors in military psychology and developing brief biographies and locating pictures of our past presidents. If you are interested in history and joining me in such endeavors, please consider becoming a member of the history committee by contacting me to let me know of your interest.

I had planned to have a profile of Jay Uhlaner for this edition, but this has turned out to be an obituary, since Jay passed away last September. I last saw Jay at the APA meeting in San Diego in 2010, where, along with his daughter Lorraine, I interviewed him about his military psychology career—especially the Army Personnel Research Branch (PRB) and Army Research Institute (ARI) years. Jay's daughters—Lorraine, a psychologist, and Carole, a political scientist— have been helping me piece together the many facets of Jay's important contributions. I fear I have only scratched the surface in this endeavor. I have put together the following obituary of what I hope is a decent summary that does justice to Jay's many important contributions to military psychology and to our society. Lorraine and Carole Uhlaner have been invaluable in helping me to prepare this article by conducting or helping to conduct interviews with Jay and by providing me with documents and information. Any errors or omissions are mine alone.

Julius Earl Uhlaner, PhD (1917–2015), passed away at the age of 98, on Sept. 4. “Jay,” as his friends and colleagues knew him, was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1917 and immigrated to the United States in 1928, where he became a naturalized citizen. Jay graduated from the City College of New York in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He received his Master of Science degree in psychology and statistics from Iowa State University in 1941. He worked in the Army Air Corp aviation research program under John Flanagan from 1943 to 1946. He earned his doctoral degree in psychology from New York University in 1947, the same year he joined the U.S. Army Research Institute (ARI) for the Behavioral and Social Sciences predecessor organization, The Army Personnel Research Branch (PRB), as a research psychologist. As the PRB grew, it went through several name changes, eventually becoming the Behavioral and Systems Research Laboratory (BSRL) in 1969, with Jay as its technical director. In 1971, he became the chief psychologist of the United States Army, a title that the head of the ARI still carries today.

Jay was a skilled scientist, manager and politician as well. He was the driving force behind the 1972 merger of the Motivation and Training Research Laboratory, the U.S. Army Manpower Research and Development Center and the BSRL. This new and important research organization, the ARI, with Jay as its first technical director, acquired human factors and training missions in addition to its traditional selection and classification research.

Early in his Army civilian career, Jay developed a pattern of roaming the Pentagon to buttonhole Army secretaries and generals to learn about their pressing problems and to offer potential ARI solutions to them. A prime example of this was in what Jay often considered to be his most valuable contribution to military psychology, developing the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) as a joint service selection test. Although other scientists did the AFQT technical development, Jay was the person responsible for bringing the idea of the AFQT to Assistant Secretary of Defense Anna Rosenberg and for overseeing its development.

It seems he had met Secretary Rosenberg several times earlier while both were in New York, and, by waiting in the Pentagon hallway outside her office, he managed to “bump” into her. According what he told me in a 2010 interview, he managed to quickly describe to her what he had in mind to solve the problem of fairly and equally distributing quality recruits and draftees to all the services, a problem that Gen. George C. Marshall, her boss, had given her to solve. Jay told her that what was needed was a universal ability test that she could use as the yardstick for measuring quality. Jay recounted that after talking with him about how he could develop such a test, Secretary Rosenberg invited him into her office and immediately called in high-ranking representatives from each of the services to hear what Jay had told her he could do. She then put him in charge of developing this instrument. Although scientists from the PRB and other services did the technical development of the AFQT, they did so under Jay's direction and oversight, and he made the test palatable to all the services by naming it the “Armed Forces Qualification Test.” He continued this pattern of roaming the Pentagon and buttonholing important Army civilians and officers throughout his ARI career.

Although the joint service AFQT was a huge success, developing the Army's Aptitude Area System for differential classification in 1949 may have been his greatest scientific achievement. The Aptitude Area System was, and still is today, the key element in the Armed Services classification and assignment process. In 1976, this seminal work was recognized nationally when Jay was honored with the Presidential Management Improvement Award presented to him at the White House by President Ford.

Jay was a forward thinker and often at the cutting edge of applied psychology development for the Armed Forces. His systems approach to selection, classification, training and human factors resulted in ARI's advances in simulation and the MANPRINT system for integrating human factors into the design and development of military hardware systems. His guidance in developing the live REALTRAIN simulation for the National Training Center (NTC) was key to making sure that the NTC had real, objective ground truth, providing soldiers and their units with as near a combat simulation as possible in which to train and evaluate their performance.

After his retirement as director of ARI in 1978, Jay joined Perceptronics, Inc., a behavioral sciences research firm in California, as executive vice president and then continuing as a member of the board of directors. At Perceptronics, Jay used his knowledge of military training theory and his practical experience in developing REALTRAIN, the novel visual live simulation predecessor to the MILES laser engagement system, to help guide the company in pioneering the development of the Portable Gunnery Training System tabletop gunnery trainers, the Battalion and Brigade constructive simulation, and the SIMNET 3D virtual simulation network, the Army's first massively nultiplayer online game. The SIMNET simulation network effectively changed the way the U.S. Armed Forces train, and was as influential in the area of virtual simulation as REALTRAIN and MILES had been in the area of live simulation. Even after his retirement from ARI, Jay continued to serve his old organization as a member of the advisory board on ARI's Project A, one of military psychology's most important selection and classification research projects ever conducted.

Jay was a superb ARI technical director and chief psychologist of the U.S. Army and an active, well-known, and highly respected leader in the military psychology community as well. He was a fellow of our division and three other APA divisions and a fellow in the Human Factors Society as well. Jay was the first behavioral scientist elected as a fellow in the Washington Academy of Sciences in 1966. He was also elected to membership in the prestigious Cosmos Club of Washington, D.C. Jay served as president of our Div. 19 (Society for Military Psychology) from 1969 to1970. His nearly 50 years of leadership and research achievements in applying psychology to military problems were recognized by the military psychology community in 1995 when he was presented with Div. 19's second Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual meeting in New York City, the first Lifetime Achievement Award having been presented to John Flanagan, for whom the award is now named. In 2011, the society founded the Uhlaner Award to be presented periodically to scientists who make significant contributions to selection and recruiting research.

Jay was an avid reader of scientific journals and books. Even as the ARI technical director, he loved to discuss the latest research findings he had read about with his ARI scientists. He personified the “management by walking around” philosophy of leadership by his frequent visits with ARI scientists to discuss their research. Perhaps Jay will be remembered best for his frequent, unannounced visits to young ARI scientists' offices to quiz them about some new finding he had read about and how it might apply to their own work to benefit the Army. These visits made positive and lasting impressions on those of us who experience them and affected the way we viewed the importance of our research for the Army and the soldier.

For further information, contact Paul A. Gade.