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He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1955 and a Master of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1962. Anders completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in 1979.
After graduating from the Naval Academy, Anders took his commission in the U.S. Air Force and served as a fighter pilot in all-weather interceptor squadrons of the Air Defense Command. He later was responsible for technical management of nuclear power reactor shielding and radiation effects programs while at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico.
From 1969 to 1973, Anders served as executive secretary for the National Aeronautics and Space Council, which was responsible to the president, vice president and Cabinet-level members of the Council for developing policy options concerning research, development, operations and planning of aeronautical and space systems.
On August 6, 1973, Anders was appointed to the five-member Atomic Energy Commission, where he was lead commissioner for nuclear and non-nuclear power R&D. Following the reorganization of national nuclear regulatory and developmental activities on January 19, 1975, Anders was named by President Ford to become the first chairman of the newly established Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for nuclear safety and environmental compatibility.
At the completion of his term as NRC Chairman, Anders was appointed ambassador to Norway and held that position until 1977, when he left the federal government after 26 years.
Anders joined General Electric in September 1977. As vice president and general manager of GE's Nuclear Products Division in San Jose, California, he was responsible for the manufacture of nuclear fuel, reactor internal equipment, and control and instrumentation for GE boiling-water reactors at facilities located in San Jose and Wilmington, North Carolina.
In 1980, Anders was appointed general manager of the General Electric Aircraft Equipment Division.
In 1984, he left GE to join Textron as executive vice president for aerospace, and two years later became senior executive vice president for operations.
In 1990, Anders became vice chairman of General Dynamics, and on January 1, 1991, its chairman and CEO. He retired in 1993 but remained chairman until May 1994.
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