Educated in Switzerland, Paul R. Haldemann apprenticed as an instrument maker for Favag AG [1950–54], and as a designer of mechanical parts for Velectra AG [1954-55] prior to completing his Bachelors of Science in electrical engineering at HTL Biel in Biel, Switzerland in 1960. Beginning in 1961, he began working for the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, where he would also earn a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1964.
In 1967, Haldemann was a Research Associate at the university, where he was trying to extend the life of excited gasses used to make lasers. Krebs, who had experience with radar in the Navy, appeared with an interest to learn how to make a laser work in a manner where people could see the beams. Haldemann assisted with Krebs’ first laser installation “Sculpture Minus Object,” at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in 1968. Thereafter, he would assist on some installations, like “Green Hypotenuse” , where they shot a 7-mile long beam from the Mount Wilson Observatory to the campus of CalTech; or serve as a technical consultant for pieces like “Irish Light” , where he needed to convince members of the National Parks Service and Secret Service that a laser fired from atop the Lincoln Memorial wouldn’t incinerate the Washington Monument.
Haldemann continued to work for the University of Maryland, as an engineering physicist until 1992, and as a lecturer in math and engineering until 1996.