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Wilson leaves his position at Athena

By Charles R. Jankowski

Douglas J. Wilson '78, Project Athena's manager of system operations and system development, will leave MIT to join a software development firm effective April 1.

Wilson will become a co-founder of Cognition Inc., a local company specializing in computer-assisted engineering. This is a "new product area," according to Wilson.

Wilson was responsible for the installation and maintenance of Athena hardware, including computer mainframes, terminals, and networks. He also managed all software development done by Athena staff.

Before joining Athena, Wilson directed the Joint Computer Facility (JCF) from 1980 to 1983. The departments of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautics/Astronautics, and Ocean Engineering share the JCF.

Wilson became Athena's first official employee when Prof. James D. Bruce '60 appointed him to his present position in July, l983.

A replacement has not been chosen yet, Wilson said. Steven R. Lerman '72, director of Project Athena, and Jerome H. Saltzer '61, Athena's technical director, will probably jointly select Wilson's successor, he added.

Wilson anticipates no major changes in Athena following his departure. "I think the project has matured to a point where one person leaving will not significantly affect the flow of things," he said.

Athena "has well laid out plans for at least the next year," Wilson continued.

Cognition will develop software to serve as a "tool for engineers to work with in early design stages," he said. Present software takes engineers' designs and completes schematic diagrams or wiring arrangements.

Wilson's title will be "manager of external software and system architecture," and his job will be to "integrate software from outside vendors into a complete system."

Several of Cognition's ten co-founders are from MIT. Philippe Villers '60, who previously founded two other companies, is the president. Robert A. Light '79 will also be involved in the new company.