In Memoriam: November 2015

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

27 November 2015

Hemant Sonawala


Life Senior Member, 78; died 30 May

Sonawala founded two major IT companies in India: Hinditron and Digital Equipment India.

He began his career as an engineer at Boeing before moving on to do research at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (now Mumbai). Sonawala also spent four years as an engineer for Tektronix, a testing and measurement equipment manufacturer, in Beaverton, Ore.

In 1966 he started Hinditron, a company that specializes in scientific instruments and telecommunication services, in what is now Mumbai. He remained chair of Hinditron until shortly before his death. Sonawala later founded Digital Equipment India, which became part of Hewlett Packard India in 1988.

Sonawala was president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce and the Computer Society of India.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Charutar Vidyamandal Trust, in Vallabh Vidyanagar, India, and a master’s degree in engineering in 1961 from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Joseph Willard Chambers

Aerospace engineer

Life Member, 82; died 20 July

Chambers was an aerospace engineer for General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Chambers received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics before starting his career in engineering. He was a member of the IEEE Computer Society and the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology.

Chambers received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Arlington State College (now the University of Texas, Arlington).

Benjamin Neil Cuffin

Biomedical researcher

Member, 74; died 21 July

Cuffin was a biomedical researcher at MIT for 21 years.

He joined the Biomagnetism Group at MIT in 1975 as a principal investigator. There he did research on measuring magnetic fields in the brain and other human organs. Cuffin left MIT in 1996 to join Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, where he worked in the electroencephalography research group. He retired in 2003.

Cuffin received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1975 from Penn State University, in University Park.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Former president of India

Honorary Member, 83; died 30 July

Kalam was president of India from 2002 to 2007.

He began his career in 1960 as a research scientist at the Defense Research and Development Organization, a government agency, in New Delhi. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization, where he was the project director for India’s first satellite launch vehicle. In 1980, the SLV sent the Rohini satellite into near-Earth orbit.

From 1992 to 1999, Kalam was chief scientific advisor to India’s prime and defense ministers. In 1997 he received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor.

Kalam won India’s 2002 presidential election and was known during his five-year term as the “people’s president” because he welcomed the public into the presidential palace in New Delhi and made himself accessible whenever he traveled.

After leaving office, he became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Management Indore; an honorary fellow of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, in Thiruvananthapuram; and professor of aerospace engineering at Anna University, in Tamil Nadu, India.

Kalam was named an honorary member of IEEE in 2011 for “outstanding contributions toward transforming society through technology and for inspiring millions of school children to harness science and technology for human welfare and national development.”

He received a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1954 from Saint Joseph's College, in Tiruchirappalli, India. And he earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1959 from the Madras Institute of Technology, India.

Robert S. Lynch

Data fusion expert

Senior member, 55; died 14 August

Lynch was an expert in data fusion, the process of integrating multiple data points to make a consistent and accurate model of an object. He published more than 50 articles and held five U.S. patents related to the field.

He joined IBM in 1984 and worked in new product development. In 1991, Lynch left to become a researcher in the information processing branch of the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center, in New London, Conn. His work focused on data fusion, automated target tracking and recognition, and adaptive signal processing.

In 2005, Lynch became an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, in Mansfield, where he taught classes in electrical and computer engineering. He also founded Analytical Information Fusion Systems LLC, an R&D consulting firm, in Old Mystic, Conn. The company focused on signal and information processing, machine learning, and data fusion systems.

He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Union College, in Schenectady, N.Y., and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1999 from UConn.

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