In Memoriam: June 2013

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

7 June 2013
obitHammons Photo: Courtesy of the Hammons family

Thomas Hammons
IEEE Power & Energy Society volunteer
Member Grade: Life Fellow
Age: 79; died 15 December

Thomas Hammons was a longtime volunteer for IEEE and its Power & Energy Society.

He was chair of the IEEE Power & Energy Society’s United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland chapter, which received its 2003 IEEE Outstanding Chapter Award. Hammons was also a founding member of the society’s International Universities Power Engineering Conference and became its permanent secretary in 2005. He received several awards from the society in recognition of his volunteer efforts, including the 1996 Distinguished Award for Individual Service.

Hammons began his career in 1962 as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, and taught undergraduate classes in power systems engineering for his entire career. He lectured on power systems at universities around the world, including McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ont., Canada, where he was a visiting professor in 1978 and 1979.

He retired from the University of Glasgow in 1998, but continued conducting research and writing papers on power systems for more than a decade. Hammons contributed 19 chapters to the book Electricity Infrastructures in the Global Marketplace (InTech, 2011).

He earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in 1957 and 1961 from Imperial College London.


obitLi Photo: University of Delaware

Tingye Li
Laser and optics pioneer
Member Grade: Life Fellow
Age: 81; died 27 December

Tingye Li helped develop a computer simulation model in the early 1960s that guided the development of the laser.

He began his career in 1957 as a researcher for Bell Telephone Laboratories (now Bell Labs), in Murray Hill, N.J., and worked there until his retirement in 1998. He and a colleague, Gardner Fox, developed a mathematical model that simulated how light bounces between two mirrors inside a laser as it gathers energy. This helped scientists predict the shape and intensity of light beams.

Li also led the research group at Bell Labs that developed the first optical communications repeater, now used in fiber-optic communications systems to convert optical signals to electrical ones. They demonstrated how the repeater could process electrical signals and retransmit optical signals. This invention extended the reach of optical communications links.

He received several awards for his contributions to laser technology, including the 2009 IEEE Edison Medal. Li was a member of the IEEE Communications and Photonics societies.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Li went on to earn a Ph.D., also in electrical engineering, from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill.


obitHolmes Photo: New York Times

D. Brainerd Holmes
Former head of NASA’s manned spaceflight program
Member Grade: Life Fellow
Age: 91; died 11 January

D. Brainerd Holmes led NASA’s manned spaceflight program from 1961 to 1963—three crucial years in the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

He worked as an engineer at Bell Telephone Labs, in Murray Hill, N.J., and Western Electric, in New York City, before joining RCA Laboratories, in Princeton, N.J., in 1953. There, he worked on the Talos anti-aircraft missile and on electronic systems for the Atlas missile. He also oversaw the development of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, built to detect Soviet missiles heading toward the United States.

In 1961, after President John F. Kennedy vowed that the United States would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, Holmes was chosen by NASA to oversee that effort. During his brief but crucial tenure there, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth, the Gemini and Apollo manned flight programs were developed, and the basic model for the spacecraft that took astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin to the moon in 1969 was designed. Holmes also helped increase government funding for NASA’s space programs and streamlined the agency’s management structure, which improved internal communications.

He left NASA in 1963 and became an executive at Raytheon, a defense contractor in Waltham, Mass. Holmes became its president in 1976 and retired 10 years later.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1943 from Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Learn More