In Memoriam: December 2017

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

27 December 2017

Sherman Karp

Communications pioneer

Life Fellow, 81; died 16 May

Karp led the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative to develop a miniature GPS receiver for the U.S. military. The technology later was incorporated in commercial handheld, battery-operated GPS receivers.

Karp served in the U.S. Navy as an electronics technician from 1952 to 1956. He then received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1960 and 1963 from MIT. While earning a Ph.D. in optical communications from the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, he worked as an engineer for Douglas Aircraft, in Santa Monica, developing advanced radar and optical communications systems.

He was hired in 1967 as an R&D engineer and project manager for NASA’s Electronics Research Center, in Cambridge, Mass., where he continued his research in optical communications and ranging systems. When the ERC facility became the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center, he was named technical director of its air-traffic-control study, leading multipath very high frequency (VHF) measurement studies for mobile communications.

He later transferred to the Naval Electronics Laboratory Center, in San Diego, where he focused on laser communications from satellites to submarines.

In 1978 he relocated to Washington, D.C., to serve as a program manager at DARPA, where he led programs in digital signal processing. He was the first to successfully demonstrate submarine laser communications technology for the Navy. He also established the DARPA miniature global positioning system receiver program (MGR), which led to the first software-defined radio.

After retiring in 1986, Karp was a consultant to several aerospace companies.

He authored more than 30 technical articles and coauthored four books: Fundamentals of Electro-Optic Systems Design, Optical Channels, Optical Communications, and Optical Space Communications.

He was elevated to Fellow in 1982 “for contributions to the advancement of optical communication theory and the development of the Blue-Green optical satellite communication system of submarine communications.”

He was a member of IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu, the organization’s honor society, as well as the IEEE Communications Society. He served on the Proceedings of the IEEE editorial board and the IEEE Fellow committee.

Floyd L. English


Life Member, 82; died 25 May

English was president and CEO for more than 20 years of Andrew Corp., a manufacturer of hardware for communications networks, in Orland Park, Ill.

He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and joined Andrew Corp. after earning a Ph.D. in physics from Arizona State University, in Tempe. He retired in 2004.

For the last 22 years, with the help of the Andrew Foundation, he supported the Floyd L. English Natural Sciences Scholarship for students at California State University, Chico, where he had earned a bachelor’s degree in physics. The program continues to aid students who share his passion for the sciences.

English, an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of La Grange, Ill., was a pilot who enjoyed weekend flights in his Pitts and Malibu planes from the Brookeridge Airpark in nearby Downers Grove. He loved to ski, scuba dive, and sail with his family and friends.

William C. Jakes

Radio communications expert

Life Fellow, 95; died 30 September

Jakes was a researcher at Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J., where he specialized in satellite and radio communications.

He was in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, then served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Boxer after World War II in the Pacific as a radar maintenance officer.

He joined Bell Labs in 1949 and spent the next decade focusing on microwave antennas and propagation. He then worked for two years designing and operating the Bell Labs station for NASA’s Project Echo, the first successful satellite communications experiment in which microwaves were bounced from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast off an orbiting metalized balloon satellite.

He was promoted to department head and focused on antennas and propagation. Several discoveries and contributions made by Jakes and his team during the ensuing eight years are described in his book, Microwave Mobile Communications. The work helped lay the foundation for current mobile cellular systems.

In 1971 he was named director of the Radio Transmission Laboratory in North Andover, Mass., responsible for development of microwave radio relay systems.

He was named Fellow in 1962 “for contributions to microwave antenna research and earth-satellite communications. He was also co-recipient of the 1987 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal “for fundamental contributions to the theory, design, and deployment of cellular mobile communications systems.”

Jakes was an accomplished clarinetist who played in community symphony orchestras and had his own band in college. He loved to ski with his wife, Mary.

He received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill.

Donald M. Bolle

Founding editor of the IEEE Journal on Oceanic Engineering

Fellow, 84; died 24 October

Bolle was the first editor of the IEEE Journal on Oceanic Engineering, which was launched in 1976.

He began his career in 1954 as a research engineer at Electrical Musical Instruments, in Middlesex, England. Two years later he was hired as an electrical engineering instructor at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind. In 1963 he began as an electrical engineering professor at Brown University, in Providence, R.I. He left in 1980 when he was named chair of electrical engineering at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa. The following year, he was named dean of the university’s College of Engineering.

From 1988 to 1999 he served as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, in New York City. Then he returned to Lehigh, where he served as interim vice provost for information resources, adjunct professor, and interim chair of the electrical and computer engineering department until he retired in 2005.

He was elevated to Fellow in 1987 “for contributions to nonreciprocal components for microwave and millimeter-wave systems.”

Bolle received several IEEE awards including the 1987 IEEE Council on Oceanic Engineering Distinguished Service Award and the 2000 IEEE Millennium Medal. He served as chair of the Technical Activities long-range planning committee.

He was an avid golfer, and he enjoyed watercolor painting and woodworking.

He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from King’s College at Durham University, England, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Purdue.

Vanu Bose

Cellular communications pioneer

Member, 52; died 11 November

Bose was founder and CEO of Vanu Inc., a firm in Cambridge, Mass., that provides wireless infrastructure for remote areas of the world. He died of a pulmonary embolism.

The firm developed technology that increased the role of software in operating the radio-based component of wireless communications networks including those used for cellphone communications, according to an obituary on MIT’s website. The technology enables multiple networks to operate on the same devices.

Bose helped develop energy-efficient cellular antenna systems that can run on solar power. That helped his firm build networks in rural settings including remote areas of India and Rwanda. Recently the company built 40 cellular base stations in Puerto Rico after the U.S. territory was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Bose was named a technology pioneer in 2005 by the World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based foundation that promotes public-private cooperation.

He was a member of the IEEE Communications Society.

He said he had been inspired by his father, Life Fellow Amar Bose, MIT professor and founder of Bose Corp., which designs audio equipment. The younger Bose once told MIT News, “My single greatest education experience at MIT was being a teaching assistant for my father.”

Like his father, he earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at MIT—in 1988, 1994, and 1999. He founded Vanu in 1998 while he was a graduate student.

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