In Memoriam: October 2017

IEEE mourns the loss of five members

17 October 2017

Thomas Rawdanowicz

Engineering consultant

Life Member, 71; died 2 September

Rawdanowicz, founder of TAR Consultancy, in Greensboro, N.C., was an engineer at several organizations in Raleigh.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1967 and reached the rank of petty officer second class. He served aboard the USS Sea Lion, Grenadier, and Mackerel submarines as an electronics technician and diver. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal for active duty during the Vietnam War.

He was an engineer at Gilbarco Veeder-Root, a manufacturer of petroleum technologies, from 1980 to 1993, and was promoted to lead engineer. From 1993 to 1999 he was a rehabilitation engineer for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. He was a building systems engineer for the North Carolina Department of Insurance from 2000 to 2004, then left the department to join North Carolina State University as a research professor of material sciences. He retired in 2012 and started his consultancy.

Rawdanowicz received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1975 from the University of South Florida, in Tampa. He got master’s degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering in 1999 from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro. He earned a Ph.D. in materials science and electrical engineering in 2005 from N.C. State.


Craig A. Woodworth

Power engineer

Life Member, 89; died 2 September

Woodworth was an expert on the development of railroads and electric power.

He served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a radio operator and was stationed in Osaka, Japan.

In 1953 he joined Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., an electric company in upstate New York, as an engineer. There he oversaw the design of service to downtown Buffalo as well as underground cable projects including the installation of 32 kilometers of 230,000-volt cable connecting two train stations. He was a senior transmission engineer at the Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo when he retired in 1987. From 1990 to 2008 he served as a consultant for National Grid, a utility in Waltham, Mass., that bought Niagara Mohawk.

He was a member of IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu, the organization’s honor society. He was a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and authored articles for IEEE Power & Energy Magazine, plus several for Classic Trains Magazine.

He shared his knowledge of steam locomotives and the history of railroads at conventions across the United States. He traveled to all 50 states as well as 11 countries.

Woodworth earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1953 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y.


Nicolaas Bloembergen

Nobel laureate

Life Fellow, 97; died 5 September

Bloembergen shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in physics for contributions to laser spectroscopy and was considered the father of nonlinear optics.

He received the 1983 IEEE Medal of Honor “for pioneering contributions to quantum electronics including the invention of the three-level maser.”

His most profound contribution to the development of the laser was the invention of a system that made it easier to pump atoms from their ground state to a higher energy state, allowing the device to operate continuously.

Before that, he made pioneering advancements in magnetic resonance spectroscopy—a method of detecting the faint magnetism of the atomic nucleus—which is used to study molecular structures and measure magnetic fields.

He became a professor at Harvard in 1951 and stayed until his retirement in 1990. He received the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1974. After retiring from Harvard, he was named professor emeritus at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences.

He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1964 “for fundamental contributions to masers and lasers.” He was a member of the IEEE Photonics Society.

Bloembergen was born in the Netherlands and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Utrecht in 1941 and 1943, all while studying—at times, by oil lamp—during Nazi occupation. Because the Nazis were suspicious of Dutch university students, he spent the next two years in hiding before escaping to the United States in 1945, right before the war ended. He returned to the Netherlands in 1948 and earned a Ph.D. in physics from Leiden University.


Lotfi Zadeh

Father of fuzzy logic

Life Fellow, 96; died 6 September

Zadeh was a computer scientist and electrical engineer who came up with theories of fuzzy logic, an approach to computing based on “degrees of truth” rather than the usual true or false (1 or 0) Boolean logic on which the modern computer is based. Fuzzy logic has been applied to artificial intelligence, control theory, and other fields.

His theories provided a way for computers to process information whose boundaries were vague or imprecise.

His 1965 paper “Fuzzy Sets” has been cited more than 90,000 times, and his mathematical concepts have provided new ways to build consumer electronics, trade stocks, forecast the weather, and more.

He received the 1995 IEEE Medal of Honor “for pioneering development of fuzzy logic and its many diverse applications.”

Zadeh began his career in 1949 as a math professor at Columbia. There he developed the Z-transformations mathematical method, which became the standard for processing digital signals in computers and other equipment. He left Columbia in 1959 to join the University of California, Berkeley. From 1963 to 1968 he was chair of Berkeley’s electrical engineering department, helping to shift its focus toward computer science. He became professor emeritus in 1991.

Elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1958 “for contributions to theory and teaching of time-varying networks and filters,” he received the 1973 IEEE Education Medal and the 1992 IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal.

Zadeh earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Tehran, a master’s degree from MIT, and a Ph.D. from Columbia—all in electrical engineering.


Paul Gray

Former MIT president

Life Fellow, 85; died 18 September

Gray was president of MIT from 1980 to 1990 and oversaw programs to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups at the university.

According to his MIT News obituary, when he arrived as an undergraduate in the early 1950s, women made up less than 2 percent of each MIT class, and “the percentage of underrepresented minorities was similarly low.” After joining the administration, he took up the charge to increase diversity among the student body. By the time he stepped down as president, women made up more than 30 percent of incoming undergraduate classes, and minorities constituted 14 percent.

Gray earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1954, 1955, and 1960. He served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957 as an electronics instructor, then joined MIT as a professor and specialized in researching and teaching semiconductor electronics and circuit theory. In 1969 he coauthored Electronic Principles: Physics, Models, and Circuits, which became a standard textbook on fundamental principles of solid-state electronics technology.

He served as associate dean for student affairs from 1965 to 1967, associate provost in 1969 and 1970, and dean of the School of Engineering in 1970 and 1971. From 1971 to 1980 he served as chancellor, and during that time he wrote and began implementing MIT’s first formal plan to increase the presence of women and minorities among the faculty and student body.

As MIT president, he created the Commission on Industrial Productivity. The group, which comprised 17 MIT faculty members, published the study “Made in America: Regaining the Productive Edge,” which examined the causes of a recent slowdown in U.S. productivity and made recommendations for improved economic performance. He helped establish Leaders for Manufacturing (now Leaders for Global Operations), a joint program by the MIT Sloan School of Management and the School of Engineering in partnership with top manufacturing companies. The goal is to help students develop the technical, analytical, and business skills needed to lead strategic initiatives in high-tech, operations, and manufacturing companies. He also implemented a plan to establish MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

After stepping down as president in 1990, Gray served as chair of the board of trustees for seven years before retiring in 1997. He also served for four years on the White House Science Council, was a member of the council’s Panel on the Health of Universities, and served as vice chairman of the Council on Competitiveness.

Elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1972 “for contributions to solid-state electronics and engineering education,” he received the 2010 IEEE Founder’s Medal “for an exemplary career of leadership in education, research, and public policy.” He was a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems, IEEE Electron Devices, and IEEE Solid-State Circuits societies.

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