This year the college lost four professors who were also alumni.
Joonhong Ahn (Ph.D.’88 NE), professor of nuclear engineering and former nuclear engineering department vice chair, died in June at the age of 58. He was also a faculty member of Japanese Studies at the Institute of East Asian Studies and a geologist at Berkeley Lab. His research encompassed the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and he played a key role in the engineering ethics program. He was a leading expert on nuclear power in Asia, and after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, he shifted his focus to the intersection of science, technology and society.
Chittor V. Ramamoorthy (M.S.’51, M.Eng.’53 ME), EECS professor emeritus, died in March at the age of 89. A native of Burma, he received his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1964. His research enhanced the dependability of safety-critical distributed real-time embedded systems, including an automated system in the late 1960s that uncovered programming errors in the U.S. Army’s Safeguard Missile Defense System. The system evolved into tools used to test NASA’s Space Shuttle System in 1971. He is widely recognized as one of the early creators of the discipline of software engineering.
Kal Sastry (Ph.D.’70 MSE), materials science and engineering professor emeritus, died in July at the age of 74. Raised in India, he was known for his contributions in mining research, particularly iron ore processing. According to professor emeritus Douglas Fuerstenau, his doctoral thesis supervisor, Sastry was a worldwide expert in his field and was responsible for creative ideas in conglomerating fine particles. He joined the faculty in 1975 and retired in 2000. After retirement, he continued to teach in The Berkeley Experience, a campus freshman and sophomore seminar.
Robert Wiegel (B.S.’43, M.S.’49 ME), a coastal engineering pioneer and professor of civil engineering for 27 years, died in July at the age of 93. He served as assistant dean of the college from 1963 to 1972 and as acting dean from 1972 to 1973. He received the Berkeley Citation in 1987 and was inducted into the CEE Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2012. His research included pioneering work in applying the scientific principles of oceanography to civil engineering problems.
Murray Kuperman (B.S.’59 Metallurgy) died in August 2015 at the age of 78. After serving in the Navy, he worked on the Polaris missile at Lockheed and also worked as a quality engineer for United Technologies on the Titan III and Scout rocket engines. In 1979, he began a career at United Airlines, retiring as a staff engineer working on composite repair and de-icing.
Jacques Pankove (B.S.’44, M.S.’48 EE), an early pioneer of LED technology, died in July at age 93. Born in Ukraine, Pankove and his family immigrated first to Turkey, and then to France, until the Nazi invasion prompted a move to Oakland in 1942. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the Philippines. After Berkeley, he earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Paris. His scientific pursuit of LEDs started at the RCA Lab in Princeton, New Jersey, where he spent most of his scientific career. He returned to Berkeley in 1968 as a visiting McKay Lecturer and authored the seminal textbook Optical Processes in Semiconductors (1972). Upon retirement from RCA in 1985, he joined the faculty at the University of Colorado.
Eay (“Jack”) Watanabe (B.S.’50 Eng. Physics) died in May at age 90. Originally from Washington, his family was interned at the Tule Lake Relocation Center near the California-Oregon border during World War II. While there, Watanabe learned calculus from a Berkeley graduate student and was the star pitcher for his Block 54 baseball team. During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Army as an electronics technician. He later worked on the first satellite that transmitted live television and on unmanned spacecraft that landed on the moon, paving the way for the Apollo space program. During his 31 years at Hughes Aircraft, he worked on space and defense projects including Intelsat I (Early Bird) and Surveyor.