In Memoriam: January 2017

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

27 January 2017

Mauri D. Laitinen

Cofounder of Autodesk

Member, 68; died 2 September

Laitinen helped start Autodesk, a software company in Mill Valley, Calif., that serves the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries.

He began his career in the late 1970s as a systems analyst. He launched Autodesk in 1982 and worked there as a software engineer until he retired in 1993. He volunteered at Oakland Technical High School, also in California, where he taught underserved students technical skills. He was also a lecturer in the computer science department at the University of Nevada in Reno, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1998. In 2002 he began mentoring the student robotics team at Monta Vista High School, in Cupertino, Calif.

Laitinen was a member of the IEEE Computer and IEEE Robotics and Automation societies.

Venumbaka Gopala Krishna Reddi

Semiconductor pioneer

82; died 29 September

Reddi was one of the first 50 employees at Fairchild Semiconductor, the company in San Jose, Calif., that many refer to as the original silicon company in Silicon Valley.

He joined Fairchild in 1958 and worked in R&D alongside industry icons Robert Noyce and Gordon E. Moore. Reddi’s work focused on developing new processes for fabricating semiconductor chips. During the last 10 years of his career he was a researcher at an integrated-circuit developer, Precision Monolithics, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Born in Annamedu, India, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the Guindy College of Engineering, in Chennai. He moved to the United States in 1957 and earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1964.

Robert Cohen


Life member, 92; died 19 October

Cohen helped launch the U.S. government’s renewable energy programs and conducted pioneering research on the ionosphere in South America.

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946 as an electronics technician. After earning his degrees, he became an atmospheric physicist in 1956 at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technologies) in Boulder, Colo. He later joined the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration Environmental Research Labs, also in Boulder.

At the NBS and NOAA, he studied the ionosphere with radio waves and radar. He also operated a chain of radio transmitters and receivers along the west coast of South America. His experiments—extending from Chile to Ecuador—were designed to study radio wave propagation by ionospheric scattering via the “equatorial electrojet,” a current that flows along the magnetic equator.

His research led NOAA in 1961 to establish the Jicamarca Radio Observatory, near Lima, Peru.

He lived in South America, mainly Peru, in 1958 and 1959 and again from 1961 to 1965. His research contributed to the improved accuracy of GPS, as well as to ways for protecting critical infrastructure, such as power grids, from solar storms and other adverse conditions.

Cohen left Boulder in 1973 to join the U.S. National Science Foundation’s renewable energy R&D program, in Washington, D.C. He was the first program manager there, charged with designing and implementing the federal ocean thermal energy R&D program, one of the six renewable energy programs established under NSF’s Research Applied to National Needs program. He also conducted special missions on behalf of the U.S. Information Agency solar R&D project in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Malta, Mexico, Spain, and other countries.

From 1985 to 1990 he served as senior program officer for the energy engineering board of the National Academy of Sciences, where he led studies on energy technology policy, including nuclear engineering education, climate change, alternative energy, and space-based high-power technologies. He retired in 1990.

Cohen was a member of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation, IEEE Oceanic Engineering, and IEEE Power & Energy societies as well as the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1947 from Wayne State University, in Detroit, and a master’s degree in physics in 1948 from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. And he earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1956 from Cornell.

Abdel-Aty Edris

Power engineer

Life Fellow, 71; died 27 October

Edris was a power engineer who pioneered the design and operation of the flexible alternating current transmission system (FACTS), which increases the reliability of AC grids while reducing power delivery costs. He also contributed to advances in reactive power compensation, high-voltage DC transmission, dynamic thermal circuit rating technology, and power electronics.

He worked at the Electric Power Research Institute, in Palo Alto, as well as Exponent, a scientific research firm in Menlo Park, both in California. He also was an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at Santa Clara University, in California.

He was elevated to Fellow in 2012 “for leadership in applications of flexible alternating current transmission systems to extra-high-voltage networks.”

Edris received a bachelor’s degree from Cairo University and a master’s degree from Ain-Shams University, in Cairo. He went on to earn a Ph.D. from Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

James W. Mink

Program director

Life Fellow, 81; died 1 November

Mink was a program director in the electrical and communications system division of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), in Arlington, Va.

From 1964 to 1976 he was a research scientist in the U.S. Army Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J. He left there to join the Army Research Office in Raleigh, N.C., where he served as director of the electronics division. He left in 1994 and was a professor of electrical and computer engineering for four years at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh. He joined the NSF in 1999 and remained there until his retirement.

Mink was elevated to Fellow in 1991 “for contributions to quasi-optical millimeter-wave power-combining techniques for solid-state sources.” He was a member of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation, IEEE Education, and IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques societies.

He received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees—all in electrical engineering—from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1961, 1962, and 1964, respectively.*

*This article has been corrected.

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