In Memoriam: September 2018

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

28 September 2018

Burton Smith

Computing pioneer

Life Fellow, 77; died 3 April

Smith helped to found Tera Computer Co. in 1987, a manufacturer of high-performance software and hardware in Seattle. He served as its chief scientist and as a member of its board of directors until 2005. He was chairman from 1988 to 1999. Tera Computer acquired the Cray research division of Silicon Graphics in 2000 and changed its name to Cray. Smith left in 2005 to join Microsoft as a technical Fellow.

Smith received the 1991 Association for Computing Machinery/IEEE Computer Society Eckert-Mauchly Award for “pioneering work in the design and implementation of scalable shared memory multiprocessors.

He also received the 2003 Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award from the IEEE Computer Society, of which he was a member.

He earned undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from MIT.


Joseph P. Noonan

Professor emeritus

Life senior member, 73; died 10 April

Noonan began his career with defense contractor Raytheon Co. in Waltham, Mass., where he worked on signal processing. In 1978 he founded Bedford Research Associates, a mathematical analysis and scientific software firm.

He was a part-time lecturer at the Tufts University engineering school, in Medford, Mass., and eventually became a professor of electrical engineering in 2000. He served as chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from 2005 to 2007. He retired in 2012 and was named professor emeritus.

Noonan, a member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, earned bachelor’s and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from Tufts.


David Nisbet

Electrical engineer

Fellow, 84; died 6 June

Nisbet spent the first 12 years of his career as a part-time lecturer of engineering at Heriot-Watt College (now Heriot-Watt University), in Edinburgh. He also taught at other technical schools in Scotland.

He joined Ferranti, an electrical engineering and equipment firm in Oldham, England, in 1954 as a design engineer and was eventually promoted to chief engineer. Ferranti made aircraft and space systems, so the company arranged for Nisbet to take flying lessons to better understand the market.

In 1990 he received an Order of the British Empire award for his services as project leader and chief engineer of a team developing the inertial sensor for the Ariane satellite launch system. He then became a divisional manager and eventually deputy managing director of Ferranti Defence Systems.

Nisbet graduated in 1968 from Heriot-Watt with a degree in electrical engineering.


Tsong-Ho Wu

Researcher, writer, inventor

Life Fellow, 65; died 5 July

Born in Taiwan, Wu immigrated to the United States in 1980. He became a principal investigator and task lead of U.S. government–sponsored R&D and system integration projects in Next Generation Internet and network management for several agencies. They included the Department of Defense, the Air Force, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Army Research Laboratory.

Later he held technical and management positions at Sprint, Telcordia, and AT&T.

He served as president and CEO of two startups that focused on mobile multimedia delivery.

In 2010 Wu returned to Taiwan to serve as chief technology officer of the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s Service Systems Technology Center. There he was responsible for the an eHealth program.

He returned to the United States in 2014 to work for AT&T in Middletown, N.J., on data-driven operations analytics for service assurance and to improve the quality of the company’s cloud-based software-defined virtualized networks.

He published two pioneering books: Fiber Network Service Survivability (Artech House) and ATM Transport and Network Integrity (Academic Press Professional). He also wrote more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers. He held 11 U.S. patents.

Wu was the founding chair of the IEEE eHealth technical committee and was an IEEE distinguished lecturer.

He earned a Ph.D. in operations research in 1983 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.


John E. Abate

Electrical engineer

Member, 86; died 14 July

Abate started his career in the U.S. Air Force as a first lieutenant. He assisted with the creation of decryption circuitry as part of the nation’s Cold War effort. Later he became a manager at Bell Labs, in Murray Hill, N.J.

He founded the ANSI Standards Working Group in 1983. It was responsible for developing synchronization standards for digital telecommunication networks within the United States. He was the group’s chairman from 1983 to 1986.

He received the AT&T Fellow Award and the Bell Telephone Laboratories Fellow Award.

Abate received an electrical engineering degree in 1954 from the Newark College of Engineering (now the New Jersey Institute of Technology). He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1960 from Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J., and a Ph.D. in 1967 from NJIT.

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