In Memoriam: February 2016

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

25 February 2016

John L. Rivard

Electrical engineer

Life Member, 89; died 24 October

Rivard was an electrical engineer at Pacific Power, an electric utility in Portland, Ore.

After earning an associate’s degree in electronics from DeVry University in Chicago, he began his engineering career at Farnsworth Radio and Television Corp., in Fort Wayne, Ind. He joined the U.S. Army and served during World War II, then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology, in Melbourne.

Rivard worked for RCA at its offices in the Bahamas from 1958 to 1963. He left there to join NASA’s space program in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and work in mission control. He joined Pacific Power in 1969 and worked at its locations in Anchorage and Vancouver, B.C., Canada, until he retired in 1989.


Harut Barsamian

Research engineer and professor

Life Fellow, 83; died 20 November

Barsamian was professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine.

In 1967 he moved from Armenia to Southern California, where he worked on air traffic control systems for Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo. He was later a research engineer specializing in integrated mainframe computing and microcomputer systems at Sperry Univac, a computer manufacturer, in Los Angeles.

He became a professor at UCI in 1985, teaching electrical engineering and computer science. The university’s school of engineering named a large classroom after him in 2012.

A member of the IEEE Computer Society, he was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 2007 for contributions to computer architecture, dynamic microprogramming, and associative search algorithms.

He was a philanthropist who helped his local Armenian-American community. Barsamian served as the main benefactor of the Orange County Armenian Center, in Santa Ana, Calif.—which in 2008 was renamed after him—and established a college scholarship fund.

Barsamian earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute (now the National Polytechnic University of Armenia).


Victor Koldyaev

Chief technology officer of FinScale

Member, 65; died 25 November

Koldyaev founded FinScale in Dublin, Calif. The company applies nanotechnology to electronic devices and systems.

He earned a Ph.D. in semiconductor and dielectric physics in 1983 at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, and became head of the school’s Advanced Devices Laboratory. In 1994 he accepted a position as visiting scientist at IMEC, a nanotechnology research institute in Leuven, Belgium.

Four years later he moved with his wife, Rimma, to the United States, to become a researcher at PDF Solutions, a software development company in San Jose, Calif. In 2007 he was named director of Innovative Silicon, also in San Jose, a company that specializes in ultradense memory technology for stand-alone DRAM chips. He left in 2010 to join Cypress Semiconductor, also in San Jose, as a senior member of the technical staff.

At Cypress, he and his wife worked on applying a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), as the foundation for scalable 3-D device architecture. In 2014 he founded FinScale.

He and his wife received a patent for their invention, the Quantum FinFET, or qFinFET. FinFETs are 3-D structures that rise above the planar substrate, giving them more volume than a planar gate for the same planar area. Koldyaev’s gates, which wrap around the channel, allow little electric current to leak through the body when the device is in the off state. Quantum FinFETs are expected to extend Moore’s Law for scaling of integrated circuits by at least another decade.

Before gaining his Ph.D. in 1983 from Novosibirsk State University, Koldyaev earned a master’s degree in semiconductor and dielectric physics in 1973 from the same school.


James W. Nilsson

Electrical engineering professor

Life Fellow, 91; died 26 November

Nilsson was a professor at Iowa State University, in Ames, for 39 years.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Iowa State and stayed on as an EE professor. In 1983 he authored Electrical Circuits (Pearson), which became the most widely used introductory textbook on electrical circuits in the United States. The book is now in its 10th edition.

He was elevated in 1990 to IEEE Fellow “for contributions to electrical engineering textbooks and other teaching materials.” In 1992 he received the first IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award, presented annually to an individual for inspirational teaching of undergraduate students in one of IEEE’s fields of interest.


Gaétan Mathieu

Berkeley Lights engineer

Member, 62; died 2 January

Mathieu was principal engineer at Berkeley Lights of Emeryville, Calif. The company specializes in biomedical equipment to assist in cell analysis.

Mathieu worked as a process engineer at Mitel Semiconductor, in Kanata, Ont., Canada, from 1980 to 1983, then joined Fairchild Semiconductor, in San Jose, Calif., as a senior IC packaging engineer.

In 1990 he became one of the first engineers to join Tessera Technologies, also in San Jose, where he helped develop micro-ball grid array technology, a chip package that is barely larger than the chip it holds. His design featured elastomer layers that withstood changes in temperature between the chip and the printed circuit board it sat on. He left Tessera to join FormFactor, a semiconductor manufacturer in Livermore, Calif., as a vice president.

Mathieu received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1979 from the Université de Sherbrooke, in Quebec, Canada.

Learn More