The summer of 1942 was a time of anxiety about the future of Reed College. In addition to the general upheaval of wartime, acting president Arthur F. Scott, professor of physics A.A. "Tony" Knowlton, and others worried about declining revenues, decreasing enrollment, and empty classrooms as prospective students and upperclassmen headed to fight the war in Europe and the Pacific. That fall, when Scott received a letter from the U.S. Army Air Force suggesting that Reed apply to teach trainees in the army's premeteorology program (AMP), he jumped at the opportunity.
Even before war broke out, the U.S. military had realized that it was short of adequately trained meteorologists, which were critical in the growing air war. They were needed to forecast weather conditions so that pilots and their crew would know what to expect at various flying altitudes.