In Memoriam: May 2012

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

25 May 2012

Photo: Boulder Laboratories Library

James Baker-Jarvis
Theoretical physicist
Fellow, 61; died 31 December

James “Jim” Baker-Jarvis was a physicist for 22 years at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo. He was fatally injured when high winds sent a tree branch through his car’s windshield.

Baker-Jarvis joined the NIST in 1989, where his research focused on magnetic measurements, microscopic electromagnetism, and fracture theory.

He was a member of the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society.

Baker-Jarvis received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He earned a master’s degree in physics in 1980 from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1984 from the University of Wyoming, in Laramie.


Roger Boisjoly
Aerospace contractor
Senior Member, 73; died 6 January

Roger Boisjoly worked in the aerospace industry for 27 years. In 1986, while at Morton Thiokol, the company that produced the rocket boosters for NASA’s Challenger, he predicted the space shuttle’s imminent explosion—a disaster that killed all seven astronauts aboard. His warning was ignored.

In June 1985—six months before the Challenger exploded—Boisjoly wrote a memo warning that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle’s huge rocket boosters could fail. The following month, he helped form a task force to examine the effect of cold on the boosters—an effort that was buried in paperwork and procurement delays in a rush to launch the shuttle, according to investigations into the crash.

The night before Challenger’s liftoff, temperatures dipped below freezing, and Boisjoly and a group of engineers once more pleaded with their supervisors at Morton Thiokol to delay the launch.

Shortly after the disaster, Boisjoly was called to testify before a U.S. presidential commission. He said hot gases leaked through a joint in one of the booster rockets 73 seconds after blastoff, causing the shuttle’s hydrogen fuel tank to explode.

He eventually resigned from Morton Thiokol, which he had joined in 1980 in Brigham City, Utah, as a mechanical engineer, and started his own forensic engineering consulting firm. He became a popular speaker on workplace ethics, receiving numerous awards for his efforts to promote engineering professionalism, including IEEE-USA’s 1988 Citation of Honor and the 1988 American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.

Boisjoly was a member of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology.

He received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1960 from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Photo: Princeton University

Bradley W. Dickinson
Electrical engineering professor
Fellow, 63; died 22 January

Bradley W. Dickinson was a professor of electrical engineering at Princeton University for 37 years.

Dickinson, who joined Princeton in 1974 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, became a full professor in 1985. He served from 1991 to 1994 as associate dean for academic affairs at Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

His research focused on video and image processing, signal processing, and artificial neural networks.

He was an associate editor at IEEE Transactions on Information Theory and IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, and he was chair of the Signal Processing Technical Committee of the IEEE Control Systems Society from 1983 to 1985. He was a member of the IEEE Control Systems, Information Theory, and Signal Processing societies.

Dickinson received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1970 from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D.—both in electrical engineering—from Stanford University in 1971 and 1974.

Photo: Post Bulletin

Richard C. Kirby
Telecommunications engineer
Life Fellow, 89; died 26 January

Richard C. Kirby served as director of several telecommunications organizations.

Kirby began his career in 1948 at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Washington, D.C. He worked in the Central Radio Propagation Division, where his research focused on very high frequency scatter propagation. In 1955 he was appointed chief of the Ionospheric Section at the bureau’s facility in Boulder, Colo., where he helped develop communications systems using scatter propagation.

In 1965 he became head of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences’ Ionsopheric Telecommunications Laboratory, also in Boulder. There he worked to develop global standards for high-definition television, digital sound broadcasting, and mobile and satellite communications. He left in 1971 to become associate director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Telecommunications. Three years later he was appointed director of the International Radio Consultative Committee of the International Telecommunication Union, in Geneva. He retired in 1995.

When the IEEE Communications Society was formed in 1972, Kirby served as its vice president of international affairs. He received several IEEE awards, including the 1981 IEEE Award in International Telecommunications and the 1979 IEEE Don McClellan Meritorious Service Award for “outstanding long-term service to the welfare of the IEEE Communications Society.”

Kirby received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1951 from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

George Sidney Eager Jr.
Cable technology researcher
Life Fellow, 96; died 1 February

George Sidney Eager Jr. was a researcher for General Cable Corp. for more than 30 years.

Eager joined the company’s research laboratories in Bayonne, N.J., in 1948, and he focused on high-voltage underground cables. He was director of research from 1968 to 1975, and retired from General Cable in 1980.

He founded GRJ Consulting Services, a research firm specializing in extruded and laminar insulated cables, and was its president from 1960 to 2001. In addition to running his own company, he was a consultant for Cable Technology Laboratories, in New Brunswick, N.J., and served as its president from 1982 to 1995.

He was chair of the IEEE Insulated Conductor Committee and was a member of the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation and IEEE Power & Energy societies.

Eager received a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.

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