In Memoriam: March 2018

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

26 March 2018

Walter R. Beam Jr.

Systems engineer

Life Fellow, 89; died 15 January

Beam was a systems engineer for more than four decades.

His early career involved pioneering research in high-speed computer logic and memory technologies. He worked at a number of organizations including IBM, RCA, and the U.S. Air Force.

He was a professor of systems engineering at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va., and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y.

Beam authored more than 30 research papers and four books on systems engineering, computer systems, and electronics.

He received numerous honors including the 1982 IEEE Computer Society Pioneer Award for his work in electronic computer logic design. Earlier in his career he received an Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer Award from IEEE Eta Kappa Nu, the organization’s honor society. He was honored twice by the Air Force with a Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service.

He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1968 “for his leadership and numerous technical contributions in the fields of microwave tube design, thin film technology, and engineering education.”

Beam was a member of the IEEE Computer and IEEE Electron Devices societies.

He received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jean G. Van Bladel

EE professor

Life Fellow, 95; died 20 January

Van Bladel was a longtime professor at Ghent University, in Belgium.

In 1950 he was head of the radar department of Phillips, a global electronics manufacturer, at the company’s Brussels location. He left Belgium in 1954 to join Washington University, in St. Louis, as an associate professor of electrical engineering. Two years later he joined the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as an associate professor of EE and was later promoted to professor. In 1962 and 1963 he was a Guggenheim Fellow and visiting professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm. He returned to Belgium in 1964 and founded Ghent University’s electromagnetics research group. In 1987 he became a professor emeritus.

Van Bladel served as secretary general of the International Union of Radio Science from 1979 to 1993 and was named honorary president in 1999. He was a foreign member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences and past president of the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Fine Arts. He received honorary doctorates from two Belgian institutions: the University of Liège and the University of Mons.

He was given the 1995 IEEE Heinrich Hertz Medal and the 1997 Distinguished Achievement Award from the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society. He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1975 “for contributions to electromagnetic theory.”

Van Bladel’s research contributions in electromagnetic theory and applications are vast. His work focused on guided waves, aperture theory, dielectric resonator theory, relativity, and the concept of field irregularities near edges. He wrote the textbooks Electromagnetic Fields, Relativity and EngineeringSingular Electromagnetic Fields and Sources; and Electromagnetic Fields, Second Edition.

He was a member of six IEEE societies: Antennas and Propagation, Circuits and Systems, Electromagnetic Compatibility, Electron Devices, Magnetics, and Microwave Theory and Techniques.

After serving in the Belgian Armed Forces during World War II, he received bachelor’s degrees in radio and mechanical engineering from Brussels University. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

Vincent J. Cushing


Life Senior Member, 93; died 1 February

Cushing founded the Engineering-Physics Co., an R&D company in Rockville, Md.

He began his career at the Armour Research Foundation (now the IIT Research Institute), in Chicago. There he helped develop atomic weapons and high-altitude radiation-measurement techniques. He eventually rose to director of research in fluids and structures before moving to Maryland and founding Engineering-Physics.

He was an expert in magnetic induction, analog electronics, and underwater shock waves. He received 28 patents and presented papers at conferences around the world. He oversaw the installation of his instruments on ships and under arctic ice.

Cushing received the Instrument Society of America’s 1983 Albert F. Sperry Award for “pioneering work in the theory, design, and application of electromagnetic flowmeters and in noncontact flowmetering.”

He was a member of the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society.

He received bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, and a doctorate in physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Donald Pierre

EE professor

Life Fellow, 81; died 7 February

Pierre was a professor at Montana State University, in Bozeman, for almost four decades.

In 1958 he accepted a Hughes Aircraft Master of Science Fellowship and attended the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, part time while working at Hughes. Upon earning a master’s degree from USC in 1960, he accepted a fellowship to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a doctoral degree in electrical engineering in 1962.

That year he joined Montana State as an assistant professor of electrical engineering. His research focused on optimal design and operation of control systems. He was named professor in 1969.

During his 38 years at Montana State, he served as leader of the electronics research laboratory systems group. For five years he was the head of the electrical engineering and computer science department. After retiring in 2000, he continued to work at the university part time for six more years.

Pierre received the university’s 1982 Wiley Award for Meritorious Research and a 1987 award for outstanding teaching and commitment to honors.

He wrote the 1969 textbook Optimization Theory With Applications, which was republished in 1986. He authored or co-authored more than 150 research papers.

Pierre was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1991 “for contributions to control system design and optimization techniques.”

He was chair of the IEEE Montana Section in 1986 and was on the board of governors of the IEEE Control Systems Society from 1990 to 1992. He was associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education and was a member of the IEEE Education and IEEE Power & Energy societies.

Ruey-Wen Liu

EE professor

Life Fellow, 87; died 17 February

Liu was a professor at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, for more than 40 years.

He joined the university in 1960. His research focused on circuits and systems, signal processing, and communications. He was named professor emeritus in 2002.

He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1981 “for contributions to wave propagation in the ionosphere and to engineering education.”

He received the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society 1988 Meritorious Service Award and its 2001 Technical Achievement Award. He was also a member of the IEEE Communications and IEEE Signal Processing societies.

Born in China, Liu moved to the United States in 1961 and became a U.S. citizen in 1956. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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