Dr. Robert J. Eichelberger was born on April 10, 1921 in Washington, Pennsylvania and graduated from Washington and Jefferson College with a Bachelor of Science in Physics in 1942.
He then spent the next twelve years as a Research Physicist and Research Supervisor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. He was awarded a Master of Science in Physics in 1947 and a Doctorate in Physics in 1954, both from Carnegie.
From 1955 until his retirement in 1986, he served on the staff of the Ballistics Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground in a variety of increasingly responsible research and supervisory positions. He spent his last nineteen years, 1967 to 1986, as director. During his career, he published more than 200 technical papers and reports.
He is known worldwide as the father of the modern-day shaped charge, and is recognized as the principal authority on shaped-charge theory, warhead design, and the design of protection against shaped charges. He has also made significant contributions to our understanding of detonation physics, the electrical and magnetic phenomena induced by strong shocks in solids, and the military significance of hypervelocity impact.
During his tenure as Director of the Ballistic Research Laboratory, he was noted for his exceptional ability to plan research programs and to identify and implement specific fundamental studies needed to provide a sound basis for subsequent research and development. The Laboratory's programs have included applied research in exterior and interior ballistics, terminal effects of nuclear and non-nuclear devices, target signatures, and electromagnetic wave propagation, materiel vulnerability, and support of fundamental research in physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and biophysics. The results of his work and that of his colleagues form the basis of modern weapons technology.