I have always said that Cleanroom Technology is not rocket science. Although it seems the modern cleanroom was developed to assist with the progression of rocket technology.
Working out of Sandia National Laboratories, Willis Whitfield, who died last month aged 92, put together the prototype of the modern cleanroom. Responding to a request by his employer to design a room to deal with the manufacture of increasingly miniaturized nuclear weapon componentry, Whitfield couldn’t believe that someone hadn’t come up with the idea before.
Dubbed “Mr Clean” by Time Magazine, Whitfield’s prototype provided safer surgery, safer drugs and fueled the development of the microelectronics industry.
So many of the problems I see in cleanrooms today are a result of people overthinking things, forgetting about the basic principles that make a cleanroom so effective. Willis Whitfield’s genius came from realizing the simplicity of the problem and delivering a simple solution. The fact that he worked in a government facility that was well funded and his research was made freely available also allowed his innovation to flourish.