Artificial intelligence pioneer
Life senior member, 66; died 4 January
Rich tried to improve our interactions with robots and computers by making the machines more intuitive and productive, according to his obituary on Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s website.
Since 2007, he had been a computer science professor at WPI, in Massachusetts, where he helped develop new courses including Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Media and Games.
He started his career in 1980 as a researcher at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. There he founded and directed the Programmer’s Apprentice project, which developed a theory of how programmers should analyze, modify, verify, and document software. He left in 1991 to join Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, also in Cambridge, where his research focused on electronics and information technology.
Rich and his wife, IEEE Senior Member Candace Sidner, developed Collagen, an AI platform that has influenced the field of speech processing. Their project was detailed in a 1998 paper published in the journal User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction.
Rich helped design Melvin, an android with a movable head and arms and an expressive face.
Later, with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, Rich and Sidner developed virtual companions for the elderly. The “always on” agents were designed to be available around the clock to provide support and friendship while promoting healthy behavior, according to the WPI obituary. One agent, Karen, evolved from a graphical interface on a computer screen to a small robot.
Rich and Richard C. Waters wrote Readings in Artificial Intelligence and Software Engineering (Morgan Kaufmann, 1986) and The Programmer’s Apprentice (Addison-Wesley, 1990).
Rich in 1992 was elected Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering science from the University of Toronto and master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.
Member, 64; died 14 January
Strohbehn was an engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Md.
He began his career there in 1979 and worked as a researcher until his passing. He was also a research professor at Johns Hopkins’ School of Engineering, in Baltimore.
His work focused on digital and analog integrated circuit design.
He was a key contributor to the laboratory’s space instrumentation group, designing electronics for NASA missions.
In 1995 he was promoted to principal professional engineer, the highest position at the APL. At the time of his death, he was lead engineer for detector electronics for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which involves placing a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter to investigate one of its moons.
Strohbehn was a member of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society.
He received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Iowa State University, in Ames.
Michael D. Hoffa
Member, 62; died 3 February
Hoffa was an engineer at Hypertherm, a company in Hanover, N.H., that produces plasma, waterjet, and laser-cutting systems. Before joining Hypertherm 20 years ago, he worked at Lincoln Electric, a company in Cleveland that manufactures welding equipment.
A member of the IEEE Power Electronics Society, Hoffa received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State University, in Ames, and a master’s degree in EE in 1996 from the University of Houston.
Researcher and professor
Life Fellow, 87; died 17 February
Liu was professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana.
Born in China, he moved to the United States in 1951 and began his career at Notre Dame in 1960. Liu’s research focused on circuits and systems, signal processing, and communications. He continued his work after his retirement in 2002.
Liu was elevated to Fellow in 1981 “for contributions to the analysis of nonlinear circuits and systems.”
He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Life Fellow, 81; died 2 May
Thorp was professor emeritus at his alma mater, Virginia Tech.
He was hired as a professor at the school after earning a Ph.D. and eventually became director of its electrical engineering school.
In 1976 he joined AEP Service Corp. in New York City while on a sabbatical from Cornell. There he made several contributions to the field of power systems, including the development of phasor measurement units (PMUs), used for control, monitoring, and protection of power grids.
He joined the IEEE power system relaying and control committee, as well as the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE).
Later in his career, he served as head of Virginia Tech’s electrical and computer engineering department while continuing his research in power systems.
He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1989 “for contributions to the development of digital techniques for power system protection.” He was elected in 1996 to the National Academy of Engineering.
Thorp was a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems and IEEE Power & Energy societies.
He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Cornell.