Eric R. Schumann
Volunteer, IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society
Member, 55; died 14 March
Eric R. Schumann was a longtime volunteer for the IEEE Eastern North Carolina Section’s Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society chapter and served as its chair for three years.
Following six years as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, he joined IBM, in Research Triangle Park, N.C., in 1996. He helped relocate the facility from Florida to the North Carolina facility, and eventually became head of the company’s EMC laboratory. He oversaw the lab and its testing facilities until shortly before he died.
Schumann received the 2010 IEEE EMC Society’s Certificate of Appreciation for “serving as the chairman of the Eastern North Carolina Section of the IEEE EMC Society, actively participating in the organization of all meetings, and bringing industry experts to the Raleigh area to present on subjects of importance to the community.” Research Triangle Park is the largest research park in the world. Schumann was also a member of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation and IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques societies.
Schumann received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He went on to earn a master’s degree, also in electrical engineering, from Pennsylvania State University, in University Park.
Ian M. Ross
Former president of Bell Laboratories
Life Fellow, 85; died 16 March
Ian M. Ross, a pioneer of transistor technology, was for 12 years president of Bell Telephone Laboratories, the research subsidiary of AT&T.
Ross joined Bell Labs, in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1952, hired by William Shockley, the physicist who led the team that invented the transistor in 1947. Ross’s early years at Bell were devoted to leading teams working to improve transistor technology. One effort involved developing field-effect transistors, which became a mainstay of integrated circuits. Another team advanced epitaxy, the process of growing silicon crystals to make thin semiconductor wafers. These wafers made integrated circuits possible and paved the way for a new generation of computers, microprocessors, and switching systems. Later, Ross managed two of Bell’s semiconductor laboratories, also in New Jersey, and oversaw the design and construction of the electronics on Telstar, the first communications satellite.
In 1964 he was named managing director of Bellcomm, a unit of Bell Labs, in Washington, D.C., formed solely to help plan NASA’s Apollo missions to the moon. Bellcomm engineers wrote two memos in June 1967 that described how the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) might be used to explore the moon’s surface from lunar orbit. One memo examined basic issues of CSM life support, electrical power generation, and reaction-control-system propellant usage during six possible lunar missions. The other proposed possible sensor locations on the spacecraft.
In 1979 Ross returned to Murray Hill and was named president of Bell Labs. During his term, IBM helped develop several groundbreaking technologies, including TAT-8, the first fiber-optic transatlantic cable, in 1988, and WaveLAN, the first wireless local area network, in 1990. Ross retired from the company in 1991, four years before it merged with Lucent (now Alcatel-Lucent).
In 1981 Ross was AT&T’s first witness in the company’s defense against charges of antitrust violations brought by the U.S. government. Based on that case, the federal government forced AT&T to split up three years later into several companies, and Bell Labs became part of AT&T Technologies.
Ross was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Royal Academy of Engineering, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the 1963 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award for “contributions to the development of the epitaxial transistor and other semiconductor devices.” He also received the 1988 IEEE Founders Medal for “distinguished leadership of AT&T Bell Laboratories, guiding innovation in telecommunications and information processing.”
Ross earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1948 from Gonville and Caius College, in Cambridge, England. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical sciences in 1952 from the University of Cambridge.
Franco L. Bencini
Life Member, 87; died 31 March
Franco L. Bencini was manager of telecommunications for Esso in Caracas, Venezuela. An Exxon subsidiary, Esso was taken over in 1976 by the Venezuelan government.
Bencini lived in Florence, Italy, during World War II and was active in the Italian resistance movement. He received the Bronze Medal of Valor from the Italian government for his resistance efforts against Nazi forces in his hometown in 1944, awarded years later, in 1957.
In 1955 Bencini and his family emigrated to Venezuela, and two years later he began his engineering career at Esso’s gas injection plant, in Maracaibo. Later, he worked at an electric power plant in La Rosa. In 1964 Bencini was transferred to Esso’s Caracas facility to be manager of telecommunications. In the late 1970s, he oversaw the company’s transition from analog to digital communications. Bencini retired in 1983.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Institut Technique Supérieur, in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Director of electromagnetic compatibility
Senior Member, 47; died 1 April
Kermit Phipps was director of the electromagnetic compatibility department at Analysis and Measurement Services Corp. (AMS), a provider of laboratory and field-testing equipment, calibration, and troubleshooting services, in Knoxville, Tenn. He also was active as a volunteer for the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society.
From 1985 to 1989, Phipps was an electronic warfare manual test and component specialist for the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Mountain Home, Idaho. He received an Air Force Commendation Medal for solving hardware and software deficiencies in new automated avionics test stations for the F/FB-111A aircraft.
In 1989 he joined Electric Power Research Institute, in Knoxville, where he investigated the performance and characteristics of end-use equipment, custom power-conditioning systems, energy storage devices, and alternative-energy systems. Phipps left to join AMS in 2010 and served as director of electromagnetic compatibility services until shortly before he died.
He was a volunteer for the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society for 11 years, serving as its chair, vice chair, and secretary. He was recently elected vice chair for the society’s Standards and Education Development Committee. Phipps was also member of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society.
Earl C. Windisch
Life Senior Member, 85; died 1 June
For more than 40 years, Earl C. Windisch was an engineer at Black & Veatch, an international engineering and construction firm specializing in infrastructure development, in Overland Park, Kan. He joined the company in 1951 and eventually became a partner. Windisch retired in 1992.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1951 from the University of Kansas, in Lawrence.