A life’s work in quality
When ASQ named Harry Romig an Honorary Member IN 1982, it paid tribute to the fourth member of a quartet of luminaries who emerged from AT&T Bell Laboratories and laid the groundwork for a discipline that continues to hold power in economic matters more than a half century later: Walter A. Shewhart, the father of quality control; George D. Edwards, ASQ's first president; Harold F. Dodge, the man to whom Romig reported; and Romig.
A man with a lifelong love of teaching, Romig started his career in 1921 as a teacher of mathematics and science at a high school in Oregon. The next year, Romig went to the University of California at Berkeley, where he supported himself as a teaching fellow while earning a master's degree in physics. Before joining Bell Labs in 1926, he spent several years teaching math and physics at San Jose State College.
In the quality assurance inspection department at Bell Labs, Romig found his life's work and made the contributions that earned him ASQ's Shewhart Medal in 1953. At Bell Labs, Romig was most closely associated with Dodge. Their best-known collaboration was the Dodge-Romig sampling tables. But they also developed of other fundamentals—sampling plans with producer's risk and consumer's risk, for example, and operating characteristics for sampling plans.
Romig made other contributions to the subject of sampling for quality control. He prepared the first sampling plans using variables rather than attributes data. He developed the concept of the average outgoing quality limit. During World War II, Romig led the team at Bell Labs that performed the original calculations for MIL-STD-105D.
Even while working on projects that would help shape the quality field, Romig advanced his education (earning a doctorate in industrial engineering from Columbia University in 1939) and instructed others (teaching quality control at Columbia and economics at Brooklyn College). Romig left Bell Labs in 1951 and became the first technical director of quality control at Hughes Aircraft, and later director of quality engineering at International Telemeter. After leaving International Telemeter, Romig spent more than 30 years as a consultant. During most of that time, Romig continued teaching. His favorite teaching assignment was in Paris, where NATO brought him to teach 165 of Europe's leading engineers after World War II.
A founding member of ASQ, Romig played an active role in Society affairs in the 1950s, serving on the board of directors for four years, organizing the Metropolitan Section, chairing the Los Angeles Section, and helping several other West Coast sections get started. He also chaired two quality control and statistics conferences at Princeton University. In addition, Romig was a prolific author, with hundreds of papers and four books to his credit.
Romig's ideas have long been recognized as central to the development of the quality field. But his contribution went well beyond the concept of sampling. It was the length, breadth, and depth of his life's work in quality that ASQ recognized when it named him an Honorary member.