Randy Johnson

People of LCO

Network Facilities Manager

Randy was born and raised in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. Fueled by a passion for hi-fi audio and auditorium sound systems, he attended recording engineering classes at a Portland recording studio after graduating high school. Randy moved to Bend in 1980 and spent that winter skiing at Mt. Bachelor Ski Area. The following year, he enrolled in the electronics program at Central Oregon Community College and began working weekends at Mt. Bachelor as a ski lift operator. After classes, he also worked part-time as a Broadcast Engineering Intern at the local television station, KTVZ. Randy frequently visited Pine Mountain Observatory during this period, a small observatory southeast of Bend operated by the University of Oregon Physics Department.

"Don't look behind you. You're not going that way."

Randy completed the Electronics program and began working full-time at Mt. Bachelor as an Electrician. After eight years at Mt. Bachelor, Randy moved to California and worked in several places. He was Foreman for a civil engineering company in Fair Oaks, Electrical Maintenance Director at Sierra Ski Ranch near Lake Tahoe, and an Electrical Supervisor for the Office of the State Architect in San Francisco.

Randy returned to Bend in 1992 with a wife, a son, and a second son on the way. He took a job at Advanced Power Technology (APT), a power semiconductor manufacturer, as a Facilities Technician. After a year in Facilities, he moved into the Equipment Engineering group, where he excelled at maintaining plasma etch and photolithography semiconductor processing equipment.

In 1996, Randy accepted an offer from Hynix Semiconductor, a DRAM Wafer Fab under construction in Eugene, and was the assistant to Hynix’s Construction Manager. When the Fab came on line, Randy returned to maintaining plasma etch equipment as Lead Equipment Engineer. During his time at Hynix, Randy became very interested in astronomy. He joined the Eugene Astronomical Society and spent many nights under the stars. He frequently traveled back to Pine Mountain Observatory, where he set up his astronomy gear and guided tours.

Hynix was in a downturn in 2005 and Randy returned to APT in Bend, which Microsemi Corporation was acquiring. Randy became the Facilities Manager and a short time later he also assumed the role of Safety, Security, and Environmental Affairs Manager. For over twenty years in the semiconductor industry, Randy was the Incident Commander for two Emergency Response Teams. He directed the responses to dozens of chemical spills, toxic gas releases, and first aid issues. Randy recalls that he was Homeland Security’s and the FBI’s “designated person” in charge of managing and reporting hazardous chemicals for the ITAR program - “the least enjoyable part of my career path.”

In early 2013, a SpaceX headhunter contacted Randy about a Facilities Engineering Manager position at a SpaceX launch site, SLC-4, under construction at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Randy interviewed and accepted the job. He managed Civil and Electrical Engineering, Facilities, and Logistics. He embarked on his ninth cleanroom construction project - a Payload Processing Facility (see Section 8.3 of this doc). Randy’s other notable projects at SpaceX included design-builds of Orbital S-band antenna ground-stations, environmental control systems, real property acquisitions, and site infrastructure upgrades - including a full-service cafe. Randy also helped develop and implement a maintenance software system, known as WarpDrive, and was a pivotal contributor to getting SpaceX certifications in 91-710, AS9100, and NASA LSP, which paved the way for SpaceX to launch NASA payloads.

One fateful day in 2019 (and out of sheer curiosity), Randy dropped by the LCO office while returning to Vandenberg from a SpaceX business meeting in Santa Barbara... and the rest is history.

Randy Johnson and Big Binocs
People of LCO profiles