In Memoriam: January 2018

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

30 January 2018

Robert W. Minck

Electrical engineer

Life member, 83; died 17 June

Minck was principal engineer at the Aeronutronic division of Ford Aerospace, in Newport Beach, Calif.

He began his career at the Ford Scientific Research Laboratory, in Dearborn, Mich., where he worked on advanced lasers. Later, he led the development of sodium-sulfur batteries for electrical vehicle applications. He left for Ford Aerospace and became a key contributor to the development of Navy missiles.

He retired from Ford but came out of retirement in 1992 to work for Ford again as the lead battery engineer on the company’s Ecostar, an experimental electric delivery van.

Minck joined the technical advisory committee of the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, a partnership among Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler to develop technology for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. He retired again in 2000.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Joseph W. Schmitt

NASA spacesuit technician

Life member, 101; died 25 September

As one of NASA’s first spacesuit technicians, Schmitt was often the last person to talk to astronauts in person before they began their missions to space.

He helped astronaut Alan Shepard into the Freedom 7 capsule in 1961 and continued his work at NASA for more than 20 years. Before spaceflights, Schmitt would spend hours in the laboratory with the astronauts, getting them accustomed to their suits and troubleshooting problems.

He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1930s, working on aircraft engines. He left the Army in 1939 and joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA’s predecessor.

According to his obituary in The New York Times, he started as an airplane mechanic, working on the 1947 flight during which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. He later was moved into its Space Task Group as the agency began thinking about what astronauts would need to wear for manned spaceflights.

Schmitt was depicted in two paintings by artist Norman Rockwell of astronauts being suited up. And in 1963 he appeared on the TV game show What’s My Line? days after he had suited up Gordon Cooper for NASA’s final Mercury mission.

Schmitt was a member of the IEEE Computer Society.


Anthony D. Rugari

Research physicist

Life member, 85; died 21 November

Rugari was a research physicist for the U.S. Department of Defense in Virginia.

He served in the Army during the Korean War and joined the Defense Department after earning a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1958 from Syracuse University, in New York.

Rugari was a member of the IEEE Photonics Society.


Emil F. Mitman

Power engineer

Life member, 93; died 29 November

Mitman was an electrical engineer for the Pennsylvania Power and Light Co. in Allentown.

He started his career there in 1952. He was promoted to construction superintendent in 1966 and then transferred to Lancaster as operating manager. He retired in 1989.

From 1952 to 1964 he was also an instructor at Pennsylvania State University’s Allentown campus. After retiring from PPL, he was a substitute teacher at Lancaster Catholic High School for two years. From 1991 to 2008 he volunteered as the Math Counts teacher at Resurrection Catholic School, and he taught advanced algebra in 2009 and 2010.

Mitman received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1947 from Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa.


Jon N. Elzey

Computer engineer

Life member, 83; died 3 January

Elzey was an engineer for several companies throughout his career, including ITT Corp., Trans World Airlines, and Western Union.

At ITT, he wrote software for the procurement of GPS satellites. He retired in 2008.

A fan of live music, he attended concerts in the United States and Europe.

Elzey served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1957. He received a bachelor’s degree in German in 1961 from Harvard, then earned a master’s degree in computer engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J.

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