In Memoriam: May 2011

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

6 May 2011

Eligius A. Wolicki
Nuclear physicist
Fellow, 83; died 18 February

Eligius A. Wolicki worked at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., before he retired in 1984 to become a consultant.

He joined the laboratory in 1952, and he researched materials and their properties using nuclear matter and ion beam analysis. He retired as an associate superintendent of the laboratory’s nuclear sciences division and then worked as a consultant for several defense contractors until 1995.

Wolicki received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Canisius College, in Buffalo, N.Y., and earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind., in 1936 and 1941, respectively.

John G. Linvill
Inventor of reading device for the blind
Life Fellow, 91; died 19 February

John G. Linvill and colleagues from Stanford University developed the Optacon—a small, handheld camera that could scan across printed material to generate Braille images on a tactile array. He created the device to help his daughter, who had been blind since early childhood.

Linvill worked as an assistant professor at MIT from 1949 to 1951, when he joined Bell Labs, where he researched transistor circuit design problems. He began working in the electrical engineering department at Stanford University in 1955, and he established its first graduate research program in solid-state device design and fabrication. In 1970 he cofounded Telesensory Systems, a company in Palo Alto, Calif., that manufactured and distributed the Optacon. He was named professor emeritus of the electrical engineering department and retired from Stanford in 1990.

He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from MIT in 1943, 1945, and 1949, respectively.

William A. Gross
Engineering educator
Life Fellow, 86; died 20 February

William A. Gross was dean of engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque.

Gross began his career in academia as a lecturer and researcher at Iowa State University, in Ames, until resigning in 1955 to try his hand in industry. He worked as a researcher for Bell Labs before leaving to join IBM in San Jose, Calif., where he helped develop computer disk memory. He left to become vice president of Ampex, in Redwood City, Calif., where he worked on the technology that made videotape recording feasible and affordable for the general public.

He returned to academia in 1972 to teach at the University of New Mexico. Two years later, he became dean of engineering. He took a leave of absence in 1980 to work with Volunteers in Technical Assistance (now EnterpriseWorks/VITA), an international not-for-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., to promote the use of renewable energy in developing countries. He returned to the university in 1982 and was named dean emeritus of electrical engineering and worked there until he retired in 1999.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1945 from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Conn. He earned his Ph.D. in applied mechanics in 1951 from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dimitry Grabbe
Researcher and inventor
Life Fellow, 83; died 2 March

Dimitry Grabbe was a director of research and technology for AMP (now TE Connectivity), with headquarters in Berwin, Pa.

In 1964 Grabbe founded Maine Research Corp., a company that produces large, multilayer printed circuit boards, which were crucial components in many U.S. space exploration missions. He sold the company in 1972 to Rockwell Collins, a supplier of military aircraft electronics with headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The following year he joined AMP, where he led research in electrical and electronic connector technology, test socket technology, and miniature semiconductor packages. After he retired, he researched gyroscopes and accelerometers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Massachusetts.

Grabbe held more than 500 U.S. and international patents in machine design, semiconductor packaging, electronics assembly, and optoelectronic connector design.

Richard J. Martel
Terraquip executive
Life Member, 72; died 7 March

Richard J. Martel was the chief financial officer, secretary, and treasurer of Terraquip, a manufacturer of precision instruments and aircraft components in Teterboro, N.J. He worked for the company for 41 years. He also was the mayor of Mahwah, N.J., for 14 years until his death.

Martel graduated from the RCA Institute of Engineering at Columbia University.

R. Bruce Thompson
Nondestructive evaluation researcher
Fellow, 69; died 7 March

Bruce Thompson led pioneering research in nondestructive evaluation, including the development of model-assisted techniques for detecting the probability of flaws in materials that could cause a device to fail.

Thompson was a researcher at Rockwell International Science Center, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., until he left in 1980 to work for Iowa State University, in Ames. There he was an assistant professor and researcher at Ames Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility located on the campus. In 1986, he became a professor of materials science and mechanics engineering, and in 1997 he was named director of the university’s Center for Nondestructive Evaluation.

Thompson received a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1964 from Rice University, in Houston. He earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees, both in physics, from Stanford University in 1965 and 1971, respectively.