In Memoriam: May 2017

IEEE mourns the loss of these five members

25 May 2017

Robert M. Eichhorn

Research associate

Fellow, 95; died 23 November

Eichhorn was a researcher who specialized in high-voltage and high-frequency organic dielectrics.

He was a senior research associate at Union Carbide in Bound Brook, N.J., when he retired in 1993. He then continued working as a consultant for five years. He was also a visiting research associate at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards as well as an advisor to two chemical companies: Nippon Unicar, in Japan, and Unifos Kemi, in Sweden.

He served as associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation and contributed to more than 40 technical papers.

He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1987 “for developing a characteristic voltage test to determine the electrical tree initiation resistance of organic insulating compounds.” He received the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society’s Thomas W. Dakin Award “for outstanding, original technical contributions, as evidenced by their sustained impact in advancing the science and technology of dielectrics and electrical insulation.”

Eichhorn was a member of the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society and the IEEE Power & Energy Society.

Eichhorn, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, earned a bachelor’s degree from Drew University, in Madison, N.J. He went on to earn master’s degrees in physics from Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J.; in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, in New York City; and in mathematics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Melvin A. Breuer


Life Fellow, 79; died 28 January

Breuer was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

After joining the university in 1965, his research focused on computer-aided design of digital systems and very-large-scale integration (VLSI) circuits. He was chair of the department of electrical engineering and systems from 1991 to 1994 and again from 2000 to 2003. He also chaired the university’s engineering school in 1997 and 1998.

He wrote or cowrote a number of books, including Design Automation of Digital Systems: Theory and Techniques, and Diagnosis and Reliable Design of Digital Systems.

He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1985 “for contributions in design automation and fault-tolerant computing.” He received the IEEE Computer Society's 1993 Taylor L. Booth Award.

He was a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems and IEEE Computer societies.

Breuer earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1959 and 1961 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in EE in 1965 from the University of California, Berkeley.

John K. Ashton Jr.

Computer engineer

Life Member, 90; died 2 February

Ashton was a computer engineer at IBM for 36 years.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1947 and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, during the final months of World War II, servicing cargo planes and long-range bombers.

He received a bachelor’s degree in airline maintenance engineering in 1949 from the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, in Tulsa, Okla. He then worked for a year as a design engineer at Pratt and Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer in East Hartford, Conn., before joining IBM as a technical associate engineer in 1951.

In the 1950s he worked on the pioneering Semi-Automatic Ground Environment air defense system for the United States. When the SAGE system was deployed, it consisted of three combat centers, 24 direction centers, and hundreds of radar stations spread across the United States.

During the following decade, Ashton contributed to logic design and code for the IBM 360 series of mainframe computers. He also developed software for the IBM 3033 processor, which debuted in 1977 and was designed to handle the growing number of database and data communications applications. He retired from IBM in 1987 as a development engineer.

He was a member of the IEEE Computer Society and its technical committee on fault-tolerant computing. He was also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics in 1965 from the State University of New York, New Paltz.

Reginald Ryan

Research scientist

Life Senior Member, 92; died 11 February

Ryan was a research scientist who specialized in nuclear radiation.

He began his career in 1948 at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in Canberra, Australia, where he worked on CSIRAC, one of the world’s first computers.

He left in the mid-1960s to join the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, in Lucas Heights, as a research scientist who developed nuclear radiation detectors. In 1978 he joined the Australian Nuclear Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, an international security initiative based in Barton. He worked on methods to measure radiation and advised teams that traveled to Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and other countries to negotiate uranium safeguards on behalf of Australia. He retired in 1990.

Ryan enjoyed reading fiction and biographies as well as traveling with his wife, Marianne, to Europe, New Zealand, and the United States.

He was a member of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society.

Born in Sydney, he was the first of his family to attend a university, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering 1948 from the University of Sydney.

Jerry R. Yeargan

Former vice president of IEEE Educational Activities

Life Fellow, 77; died 31 March

Yeargan was 1996 vice president of IEEE Educational Activities.

After beginning his career as an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments, in Dallas, he joined the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1967 as an electrical engineering professor. He was head of the EE department from 1977 to 1982 and head of the computer science and engineering department from 2005 until he retired in 2007.

He served as president of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) in 2001 and 2002 and was its director from 1998 to 2000.

He was elevated IEEE Fellow in 1995 “for contributions to electrical engineering education” and was a member of IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu, the organization’s honor society.

He received the 2004 IEEE Haraden Pratt Award “for outstanding contributions to the engineering accreditation activities of the IEEE” as well as the 2001 IEEE Educational Activities Board’s Meritorious Service Award and the 1997 IEEE Education Society’s William E. Sayle II Award for Achievement in Education.

He was a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems, IEEE Education, IEEE Electron Devices, and IEEE Solid-State Circuits societies.

Yeargan received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas. He earned a Ph.D. in EE in 1967 from the University of Texas, Austin.

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