In Memoriam: December 2014

IEEE mourns the loss of the following volunteers

8 December 2014

Thelma Estrin

Former IEEE executive vice president

Life Fellow, 89; died 15 February

Estrin, who served as IEEE executive vice president in 1982 (a title no longer used), was the first woman to be elected to the IEEE Board of Directors.

She began her career in 1941 as an engineering assistant at Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J., and then worked for two years at the Radio Receptor Co., in New York City. She returned to school and went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, in 1948, 1949, and 1951.

She became an engineering researcher in the electroencephalography (EEG) department of the Neurological Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City, in 1951. An electroencephalogram records brain activity through electrodes along the scalp.

Three years later she and her husband, Gerald, accepted positions at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel. They worked on the Weizac—the first large-scale electronic computer outside the United States and Western Europe. It was named an IEEE Milestone in 2006.

The couple moved to California in 1956, and Estrin taught engineering at Los Angeles Valley College. She left in 1960 to join the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. Ten years later she was named director of the BRI’s data processing laboratory, where she provided computing support for research projects and helped dozens of researchers make use of BRI computers.

She did pioneering work in medical informatics and the application of computers to medical research and treatment, and she organized events for UCLA faculty and students focusing on the issues and concerns of women in science.

In 1982 and 1983 Estrin served as director of the National Science Foundation’s division of electrical, computing, and systems engineering. She was named professor emeritus at UCLA in 1991.

Estrin served as vice president of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and belonged to the IEEE Computer Society. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Society of Women Engineers, she was named an IEEE Fellow in 1977 for “contributions to the design and application of computer systems for neurophysiological and brain research.” In 1999 she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.

Estrin was in a family of IEEE Fellows. Her husband, who died in 2012, was elevated to Fellow in 1968. Her daughter, Deborah, a computer science professor at Cornell Tech, in New York City, was elevated in 2004.


Richard “Dick” Riddle

Former director, IEEE Region 3

Life Senior Member, 83; died 29 July

Riddle was director of IEEE Region 3 (Southeastern United States) in 2000 and 2001. He also served as chair of the IEEE Winston-Salem (N.C.) Section.

He served in both the U.S. Army and Navy, specializing in air defense radar as well as antiaircraft and high-altitude guided missile systems, and he was an instructor at the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico.

After his service in the military, he joined Remington Rand, where he worked on Univac computers. In 1961 he left for Western Electric in Winston-Salem, where he helped develop electronic systems along with telephone hardware and software. He left there in 1989 to form Riddle Associates, a management and operations consulting firm.

Riddle was a lifelong student. He attended Wake Forest College, in Winston-Salem; Mars Hill University, in North Carolina; Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso); the University of Houston; and New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces.


Eugene I. Gordon

Founder, IEEE Quantum Electronics Council

Life Fellow, 84; died 15 September

Gordon was founder and first chair of the IEEE Quantum Electronics Council, which became the IEEE Photonics Society.

He spent his entire career at Bell Telephone Laboratories, in Murray Hill, N.J., where he worked on microwave traveling-wave tubes, lasers, and image and display devices. In 1970 he began consulting for the U.S. Department of Defense’s advisory group on electron devices. He retired in 1983 as director of Bell’s Lightwave Devices Laboratory.

Gordon helped form the IEEE Quantum Electronics Council in 1965. The council became the IEEE Quantum Electronics and Applications Society in 1977 and then in 1985 changed its name to the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society. It was renamed the IEEE Photonics Society in 2009. He cofounded IEEE Electron Device Letters and the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics.

He was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1968 “for scientific contributions in the fields of electro-optics and quantum electronics,” and he received the 1984 IEEE Edison Medal for “a singular career of invention, development, and leadership in electron devices.”

Gordon earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1952 from the City College of New York and received a Ph.D. in physics in 1957 from MIT.

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