You’ve Got a Problem? Forrest Can Fix It

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Front Page / Nov. 21, 2012 10:59pm EST

By Dian Parker


Forrest MacGregor prepares an experiment to test flow rate on a project at Bob White Systems in Royalton. (Herald / Tim Calabro) Forrest MacGregor prepares an experiment to test flow rate on a project at Bob White Systems in Royalton. (Herald / Tim Calabro) andolph resident Forrest Mac- Gregor is certainly a Renaissance man: inventor, engineer, and artist.

He gives talks to high school and college students, inspiring them to live their dreams and not be afraid to have multiple careers in their lifetimes.

He writes poetry, cleans the house, cooks the meals, and trains the dog.

He’s also married to a first-rate wonder woman, Kelly Green, a staff attorney in the public defender’s office in Montpelier. She’s also the moderator for the Randolph Town Meeting, adorned in her inimitable hat and skirt.

MacGregor and Green share a beautifully restored, rambling home in one of the lovely Randolph neighborhoods that are known for their garden parties on the wraparound porches. Theirs was built in 1898. The floors and rotund staircase are red birch and maple. In the many nooks and crannies are stained glass windows, hidden shelves stacked with books, and MacGregor’s art.


This large sculpture, made to look like a 1930s radio, was rigged to play recordings of artist MacGregor’s father-in-law. (Herald / TIm Calabro) This large sculpture, made to look like a 1930s radio, was rigged to play recordings of artist MacGregor’s father-in-law. (Herald / TIm Calabro) Also around the house are MacGregor’s many designs and a few patented inventions. These range from high-power biomedical heating systems to tiny battery-powered prosthetic prototypes.

Radios & Rockets

While Green was busy with law school, MacGregor worked as a senior engineer at Applied Research Associates in radio and video engineering. His most successful past project was the birth of the highly successful company, Radio System Corporation of Knoxville, Tenn. He re-engineered a defective design for the Radio Fence Pet Containment System.


A bouquet of flowers and other figures made from railroad spikes by MacGregor. (Herald / Tim Calabro) A bouquet of flowers and other figures made from railroad spikes by MacGregor. (Herald / Tim Calabro) A veteran of the “rocket business,” Mac- Gregor earlier had worked on a variety of projects for Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon Missile Systems Division. As a test engineer he worked on Sparrow and Standard missiles, and Titan and MX missiles (www.linkedin.com/in/fm1009#name#name).

MacGregor says of himself, “I’ve been noted for my persistence and out-of-box thinking. I could sell snow to Eskimos.”

These factors were useful as vice president of development for the American Chestnut Foundation, an organization working to reintroduce blight resistant American/ Chinese chestnut hybrids to the eastern forests, where they were once the dominant tree.


A 300-pound marble bust nears completion in the workshop. (Herald / Dian Parker) A 300-pound marble bust nears completion in the workshop. (Herald / Dian Parker) During his tenure, he raised $2 million in grants, including funding for orchard irrigation systems. He was instrumental in formalizing what had been a very informal group; membership went from 1000 members to 5000, and an $800,000 annual budget increased to $2,000,000.

Consult with Him

Currently MacGregor is an independent consulting engineer working out of a wellequipped lab in his Randolph home. He provides services in embedded systems design, product development, and product/process troubleshooting.

“I am especially effective at solving existing product problems, improving marginal products, evaluating new concepts, and generally organizing chaos,” he explained.

His home and offices certainly testify to that. There is no evident chaos anywhere. The kitchen is immaculate. Waiting on the kitchen counter were the lined up fixings for fresh vegetable soup he would make for dinner. In one of his lab nooks he was in the midst of designing a prosthetic glass eye that lights up while in the eye socket using a tiny computer chip. A Halloween prank.

In the basement he had smashed open an 1881 Mosler safe with a sledge hammer and iron spikes. The safe weighed 800 pounds. Asked why he would do such a thing, he said, “You think you are safe? It’s a metaphor. Safety is an illusion.”

He hopes to obtain a similar Mosler safe to smash open as performance art on YouTube.

Using railroad ties and iron spikes he finds lying along railroad tracks, MacGregor has made many sculptures. They lie discarded, having served their purpose and now useless from age.

On a different day at a mine, “the molecules of iron might have found their way into a scalpel, or the Space Shuttle, or a rifle bore,” MacGregor said.

He likes to polish the iron spikes so they gleam and sparkle, a merging of the natural and manmade world.

Another material MacGregor uses for his art is marble. Currently he is carving a 300-pound piece shipped over from Altissima, Italy, where Michelangelo once quarried for his marble. MacGregor has had no formal art training, but the fair maiden he is carving is one of those Raphaelite beauties, comely in her innocense.

Radio Art

In the hallway of his house sit two refurbished antique typewriters, several restored radios, and his new creations, “rustic radios.” Combining art and electronics, Mac- Gregor uses parts of old radios and makes sculptures out of them.

One is based on a favorite 1938 radio that plays the recorded sounds of his now deceased father-in-law. The sculpture was recently exhibited in the North Bennington Art Park, broadcasting a voice that had long been silent—a time machine and a fitting memorial to someone he loved.

On his night stand are stacked math books, Old English literature, and books about late 1800’s criminals. “Probably because of my wife, I’m fascinated by the evolution of law and the criminal mind,” he explained. He reads WWII books to understand the social energy that goes into warfare.

“What a mythology that we were always the good guys!” he exclaims.

MacGregor loves to play the guitar and write music. When he plays the guitar, he said, “It’s like having a different person in the room.” He writes poetry that belies his engineering side. In his poem, “Closer,” the first lines are as follows:

“I want to breathe the air you’re done with. / A mist of water vapor, virus, carbon dioxide. / Your hip pressed against mine as we sit on a bench, looking out across a warm field. / Maybe find your earlobe with my nose.”

Welcomes Pressure

A high-energy powerhouse, Forrest Mac- Gregor likes to work on high-pressure, highintensity assignments. He likes problem solving so much he’s incorporating a new company called “Problematics.” He wants to market his eclectic collection of skills, contacts, interests, and experiences, seeking out problems that people and companies have been unable to solve themselves.

“If I can’t solve your problem, I won’t work on it. I also won’t work on a problem that’s illegal, immoral, adds to social strife, or that you really don’t want solved. It has to be solvable in six months or less. I’m a little ADD.”

He could revitalize your family business. Or find a way to market your artwork. How about repairing the temperature gauge on your oven (MacGregor fixed his neighbor’s)? Finding the best pest control for your particular infestation?

He’s already solved problems for American Flatbread Company, Microwave Technologies, and Fishburne Inc., to name a few.

“Problems often have economic issues,” he added. “I find solutions for business management under crisis conditions. Part of being good at this is clearly defining the problem.”

If MacGregor’s life is any example, he’s solved one heck of a lot of problems for himself. He has the energy of a 20-year-old and passion for life to match. He is undaunted by seemingly unsolvable issues and loves finding solutions.

When asked why he lives in Vermont, Mac- Gregor replied, “Vermont is a unique place. Here you have a cheese maker with a PhD. A farmer who studied at Vermont Law School. An engineer who sculpts. Such pockets of novelty! It is a place where the mind can flourish.”

Forrest MacGregor’s is doing just that.

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