Power Electronics

Dr. R. David Middlebrook 1929 - 2010

Professor Middlebrook passed away on April 16, 2010 short of his 81st birthday. He will be remembered by all of us as the founder of modern Power Electronics and a founder of Caltech's Power Electronics Group, which under his guidance graduated 36 Ph.D.s and hundreds of M.S. and B.S. students, many of whom are now Professors, engineers, and key members of their communities. Professor Middlebrook greatly contributed to development of Power Electronics as an academic discipline through his research and teaching.

We all remember his unique teaching style that has earned him accolades worldwide. I had the honor to be at many of his lectures and seminars and witnessed the generations of engineers who greatly benefited from his deep understanding of the Power Electronics and Analog Circuit Design and his ability to transfer that knowledge effectively. His seminal book Introduction to Junction Transistor was his “translation of transistor invention into practical models for engineers”. Dr. Middlebrook made broad and lasting impact to the engineering world.

He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him. - Dr. Slobodan Cuk

Dr. Middlebrook was born in England in 1929. Before entering Cambridge University, he was a senior technical Instructor and a member of the trade testing board in the Royal Air Force. Later, he worked for a short time on sound recording at the British Broadcasting Corporation. He received the B.A. and M.A. degrees from Cambridge. Then he went to Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., where he completed graduate work in electrical engineering and received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He was a research assistant at the Stanford Electronics Research Laboratory and was the first member of the transistor group.

Initially, his research was in semiconductor device electronics, on which he wrote a textbook. His concurrent interest in electronic circuits led to a book on differential amplifiers. In 1970 he founded the Power Electronics Group at Caltech, and presented many conference papers and seminars. He is especially interested in design-oriented circuit analysis and measurement techniques, and his Structured Analog Design course of “technical therapy,” now available on this DVD, has been attended by many hundreds of design engineers and managers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Dr. Middlebrook was a Life Fellow of the IEEE, and a Fellow of the IEE (UK). Among his technical recognitions were:

  • Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 1997; Caltech's highest teaching award.

  • Edward Longstreth Medal of the Franklin Institute, 1991 “for the development of switched-mode power converters.” Presented at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. May 1, 1991.

  • Power Conversion International Magazine (PCIM) Award for Leadership in Power Electronics Education, presented at the High Frequency Power Conversion Conference in Santa Clara, May 1990.

  • IEEE Millennium Medal, 2000, “in recognition and appreciation of valuable services and outstanding contributions.”

  • IEEE Centennial Medal, 1984, “for extraordinary achievement deserving of special recognition.”

  • William E. Newell Power Electronics Award for Outstanding Achievement in Power Electronics, presented at the IEEE Power Electronics Specialists Conference in Boston, June 1982.

  • Award for Excellence in Teaching, presented by the Board of Directors of the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), June 1982.

  • I*R 100 Award, 1980, awarded by Industrial Research Magazine “for one of the 100 Most Significant New Technical Products of the Year.”

Dr. Middlebrook has taught in-house analog design courses in industry for more than 20 years, at such companies as Analog Devices, AT&T, Boeing, Ericsson, Hewlett Packard, Hughes Aircraft, IBM, Motorola, Philips, Tektronix, TRW and many others. In the 1980's, he taught analog and power electronics courses both publicly and in-house, and his Structured Analog Design courses have been attended by many hundreds of design engineers and managers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

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