Joseph Mayo Pettit was born July 15, 1916, in Rochester, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley where he received his BS degree in electrical engineering in 1938. At Stanford University, he earned the degree of Engineer in 1940 and a PhD in 1942. From 1940 to 1942, Pettit served as an instructor at the University of California. He then joined the World War II radar countermeasures project at the Radio Research Laboratory of Harvard University.
Following the war effort, Pettit became supervising engineer with Airborne Instruments Laboratory, Inc. in New York where he remained until joining the faculty of Stanford University in 1947. At Stanford he was named Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1954, and became Dean of the School of Engineering in 1958 a post which he held until 1972 when he became President of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Pettit spent almost his entire career in engineering education. As a teacher at Stanford, he developed two textbooks: “Electronics Switching Timing and Pulse Circuits” in 1959, and “Electronic Amplifier Circuits” in 1961, the latter with M.M. McWhorter. He also coauthored “Electronic Measurements” with Fred Terman in 1952. Pettit was an active member of the IEEE and its predecessor organizations for almost 50 years. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) in 1954 and served on their Board of Directors during 1954-55. He also served as a member of the IRE Fellow and Education Committees and was elected a life member of IEEE in 1982.
Among his many activities, Pettit was instrumental in founding WESCON, having served as Chairman of the Pacific Coast IRE Convention in 1949. Recently, he was founding chairman of SOUTHCON, established in Atlanta during 1981.
Pettit was awarded the Presidential Certificate of Merit in 1949 for his World War II contributions. He served on the National Science Board from 1977 to 1982, and was an advisor to the National Science Foundation in various other capacities. Among his international activities, he was an advisor from 1965 to 1973 to the Ford Foundation in Mexico and Latin America, served as a technical consultant to the Organization of American States from 1967 to 1972, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering of Mexico in 1981. Pettit was awarded the 1983 IEEE Founders Medal “For contributions in electronic and engineering education; for leadership in engineering organizations; and for service to the world as an advisor to government and industry.”
Donald O. Pederson (September 30, 1925 – December 25, 2004) was an American professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the designers of SPICE, the canonical integrated circuit simulator. Born in Hallock, Minnesota, Dr. Pederson entered Iowa State College in the autumn of 1943, but then left for the military during World War II. He served as a private in the U.S. Army in Germany from 1943 to 1946. Upon his return from service, he continued his undergraduate education at North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1948. He then attended Stanford University for graduate school, where he received his master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1949 and his Ph.D. in 1951.
Pederson remained at Stanford as a researcher in the university’s electronics research lab. From 1953 to 1955, he worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories, in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and lectured at Newark College of Engineering. In 1955, Pederson joined the faculty of the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences of the University of California, Berkeley as an assistant professor of electrical engineering. In the late 1970s he began work on SPICE, with his colleagues from the Electronic Research Lab. He retired in 1991, but continued to teach part-time.
Dr. Pederson died on December 25, 2004 in Concord, California, of complication from Parkinson’s Disease.
R. David Middlebrook was a professor of electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He was born in England in 1929 and died in California on April 16, 2010. He is most well known in the field of power electronics and as a proponent of design-oriented circuit analysis.
He is regarded as one of the founders of the field of power electronics. He developed the averaged-switch method of analysis and other tools crucial to modern power electronics design. He was highly regarded both as a researcher and a teacher. He founded the Power Electronics Group at Caltech.
The IEEE Power Electronics Society has established the R. David Middlebrook award for “outstanding contribution in the technical field of power electronics” in his honor. Middlebrook was one of the founders of the IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC).
He wrote several books including An Introduction to Junction Transistor Theory, which helped early electrical engineers devise practical applications for the transistor.