Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis
BIOS: Sterge Demetriades

Anna's Family (Written 20 May 2006) (click to read)

Sterge Demetriades (click to read)

Sterge Demetriades Publications (click to read)


Sterge Demetriades (as appeared in Bowdoin College Publication 1985)
Demetriades: Bowdoin helped propel him to success 
Defense and aerospace form California's largest industry, bigger than tourism and agriculture combined,and responsible for about $54 billion a year and a 10% growth rate in the state's economy, according to the Bank of America. Amid giants of the industry like Rockwell International, Northrop, Aerojet General, and Lockheed is a small company called STD Research Corp.

In a sense, STD Research Corp. is the brains behind the brawn.  Run by Sterge Demetriades '50, Hs founder and president, this company does much of the research in physics and rocket technology upon which the larger companies depend. STD Research Corp. employs primarily scientists, engineers, and technicians and is located in Arcadia near Los Angeles, where it sits in the shadow of the mountains. Demetriades began STD Research Corp. in 1964, because he wanted independence and the flexibility to operate a company in a way he' felt was efficient. The company designs power generators and propulsion devices for government and business use.

The nature of his business makes it necessary for Demetriades to work: with. the government on a frequent basis, though he feels "too much time is spent bargaining and funding and there isn't enough time to do the research.” Demetriades describes himself as a "primitive man:' who believes that military strength is a safe-guard against leaders "Iike Kadafi" and argues that he is not the first Greek to hold this theory. Archimedes, a mathematician, was also a defense engineer. Demetriades also points out that often military inventions, such as the laser beam, help civilians.

Sterge Demetriades' Greek heritage is reflected in his name, his speech, and his views on life. Sterge has "made it" in a typically American way, starting his own company and making a success of it. A teacher once described him as having "an insatiable thirst for self-improvement,” and his life has proved that description to be accurate. He has blended his two cultures to become a creator in science, business, and literature.

Demetriades came to the United States after World War II to study science. Practically no one in Greece, Demetriades admits, had heard of Bowdoin or of Maine. "Massachusetts, maybe.” But Demetriades' father was a hurdler on the GreekOlympic team and met Jack Magee, the Bowdoin track coach. That meeting resulted in the young Demetriades' arrival at Bowdoin ("without much humility,” he says) in the fall of 1947. He may have been a disappointment to Jack Magee, for his heart was not in athletics.

Academically, however, Demetriades excelled. He won a prize for English composition in his freshman year, no small feat for a man whose first language was Greek and whose major was physics. He received the only “A” awarded in his public speaking class and was invited by the College to take his speaking talents on the road. Demetriades graduated cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, as well as winning the Charles Carroll Everett Graduate Scholarship.

From Bowdoin, he went on to M.I.T. to study for his M.S. in chemical engineering. At M.I.T., the catastrophe
was the proximity of girls,” says Demetriades without regret. He had never dated at Bowdoin, but at M.I.T., found himself out every night. He managed, nonetheless, to get his degree in only one year. Short of money, he spent the fall of that year living in a station wagon in a dormitory parking lot. "I could pay rent or make car payments,” he says. He chose the car, and it may well have been those chilly nights that prompted him to pursue his degree in mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

In 1953, the United States government invited Demetriades to become a permanent resident and continue to use his knowledge of physics and rocket propulsion in the U.S. (His expertise in this area earned him the nickname of "the Greek from Delphi.”) His move to California delayed  his citizenship until. January of 1959.

Demetriades still visits Greece every year and is a member of the board of the American Hellenic Institute. "I came from a close knit family. We had lots of fights, but we were very loyal,” he reflects. His 82-year-old mother still lives in Greece and can climb stairs with less effort than he, he says.

He has found common ground between his Greek upbringing and American society. "There's no such thing in Greece as a laid back attitude. Life is a serious business, people don't smile much,” comments Demetriades with a touch of a grin. "My wife Anna is a very ‘American Girl’ popular and attractive. She's always telling me to lighten up. I heard the phrase for years before it became Hollywood parlance.” He admits to having taken ome, if not all, of Annas advice as his face, marked  with the lines of past smiles, testifies.

For relaxation and to avoid depression, Demetriades writes poetry that sometimes reflects his concern about war. His poems become Christmas presents for relatives and friends in Greece, with whom he remains close. He recently translated parts of the Carmina Burana, a collection of medieval songs, from the original Latin into modern Greek and distributed them as gifts.

Demetriades' scrapbook, dating back to his high school days at Athens College, contains a picture of a serious, self-assured young man who bears a strong, although thinner and more solemn, resemblance to Demetriades today. It is a biography of sorts, a testimony to his "private wars and private victories," to his intellectual achievements, and to the successful way he has intertwined his Greek heritage with American life.

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