systems during the war, he abandoned all thoughts of becoming a lawyer and returned to Caltech to earn his M.Sc. (1947) and Ph.D. (1949) in electrical and aeronautical engineering.
When he left Caltech, he was hired as associate director for systems research and development by two earlier graduates, Si Ramo and Dean Woolridge, who were leading the Hughes Aircraft Company. In 1954, he left Hughes for Washington, D.C., where he worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense and where he met his future wife, Donna. The couple was married in May 1955. Their first son, Matthew, was born in 1958, and their second son, Daniel, came along in 1960.
Returning to California in 1955, he joined Ramo Wooldridge Corporation, later TRW, where he spent the rest of his career. He was a key person in developing the U.S. capability in intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS). From program director of the Thor Program, he subsequently directed the Atlas, Titan, and Minuteman missile programs for Space Technology Laboratories (a corporation owned by TRW). He was named president of the Space Technology Laboratories in 1962, president of the Systems Group in 1963, member of the Board of Directors of TRW in 1965, president and chief operating officer in 1969, and chairman of the board and CEO in 1977. He served in that capacity until he retired at the end of 1988. Among his many accomplishments at TRW, he was responsible for the Pioneer and Orbiting Geophysical Observatory satellites and the lunar module descent engine used for the moon landings.
Rube Mettler received many honors during his lifetime, starting at an early age. In 1954, he was named the Nation’s Most Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer; in 1955, he was one of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce’s Ten Outstanding Young Men; in 1964, the Engineering Societies of Southern California elected him Engineer of the Year; and, in 1965, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1966, Caltech named him one of 23 alumni to receive the first Distinguished Alumni awards, the institution’s highest honor. He was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.