Richard Armstrong: Arctic Engineer

Michael Levine, Reporter

Richard Scott Armstrong, known to friends as Dick, is an engineer’s engineer. He is the person that when other engineers need help, they call him, but you would not know that by looking at him, he is a very tall, very quiet man.

Mr. Armstrong’s official title as an engineer is as a mechanical and electrical consulting engineer. Another title is owner of Ace Hangers at Merrill Field and Ace Fuel, which is a statewide aircraft fuel company. He’s also a manager for the apartments that he owns, and a manager of an office complex that he owns, “ I guess those are the principle jobs,” he said.

When asked what engineering consulting involved, Mr. Armstrong responded, “I advise my clients on a lot of issues based on my expertise on lots of different issues. For instance, I have a contract with the National Science Foundation where I advise them on all of their facilities in Antarctica.  I review all the plans that come out for new buildings or remodels then I inspect those construction projects whether they are new or re-model. I am also the commissioning agent for the National Science Foundation and that’s for every facility in the Antarctica, I also have another contract where I do the same thing for every facility in the arctic including Greenland and Alaska, and that’s for one client, for the U.S postal service, I design energy improvements for their building around Alaska.”

Another question was asked was whether or not he wanted to do anything else other than engineering, to which he said, “Yeah, I retired from engineering in 2000, I was the president of the company I founded, R.S.A Engineering, and I’d decided I’d get into the aviation world, I designed and built the Ace Hangers complex on Merrill Field, and then I started Ace Fuels, which sells aircraft fuel, I really enjoyed engineering more, and there’s a lot more money in engineering than aviation, I found that when I was running R.S.A engineering, I spent a lot of my time with personnel matters and marketing my business and reviewing everybody else’s work.  I didn’t get time to do very much engineering, I was more of an administrator, and so I slowly got back into on my own engineering. So yes, I did think about doing other things and I did do other things but I came back to engineering because it’s so rewarding.”

When asked about their opinions on Dick, people were almost identical in their replies. Jodie Foster, who is a close friend of Dick’s said, “Dick is one of the sweetest, most modest, and soft spoken people I know.”

Alice Rogoff, another close friend of Dick’s nodded her head and said, “I have never met a nicer guy.”

When asked what highlights in his career that Dick felt like sharing, he grinned and responded,“Ohh, doing work for National Science Foundation was one of the highlights because I got to meet so many really bright scientists that were doing exotic and cool things, and working with these people has been a real honor. So even though I retired in 2000 and here we are in 2014 I’m still working but I’m not working because like they say, if you like what you do, you never work a day in your life.”