Interview with John Miller

John Miller

Hardware Engineer

John Miller joined the Instrumentation Lab in 1959 after receiving his masters from MIT in 1953 and serving in the Air Force until 1958. He worked in mechanical engineering testing the accelerometer for the Polaris program before working on the Apollo program. Miller was placed in charge of the inertial measurement unit (IMU). The IMU measured the acceleration through a stabilizing gimbal system, and the measurements would then be put into the guidance equations. As the program progressed, Miller’s responsibility grew until he was in charge of the hardware half of the program, and helped organize the team. He liaised with the NASA and participated in lectures and presentations about the Primary Guidance, Navigation, and Control System that took him to Europe.

Even though he left to found Intermetrics in 1969, Miller was still involved with Apollo 13 by proxy, consulting on whether or not it would be fine to restart the IMU to conserve power. He knew the technology so well because no failures were left unexplained. Now retired, Miller has served on the Board of Directors and worked with a variety of organizations, including NASA’s Advisory Council, MIT’s High Tech Council, and Boston University’s Photonics Center. Miller was a Research Affiliate at MIT until 2001. He is also a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 2007, he was inducted into the hall of fame at his high school.