Robert “Pete” Bragg Jr., materials science and engineering professor emeritus, died in October at the age of 98. A passionate researcher, he established himself as a leading expert in X-ray crystallography, X-ray diffraction and the electronic properties of carbon materials. When he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1969, he was the only African-American in the materials science and engineering department — where he served as department chair from 1978–81 — and one of six African-American faculty members on campus. He remained deeply committed to science as well as to diversity, fighting for the increased hiring of minority faculty and overseeing key diversity programs. Among his many honors, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and was a fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists. (Photo by Bruce Cook)
Stephen Mahin (B.S.’68, M.S.’70, Ph.D.’74 CE), professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, died in February at the age of 71. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1977 and was a popular teacher, mentor and colleague. An expert in earthquake engineering, he pioneered the development of hybrid testing techniques that integrated physical testing with computer simulations, and he was known worldwide for his wide-ranging contributions to seismic research. He served as chair of the Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials (SEMM) program from 1990–93, director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) from 2009–15, and founding director of the Computational Modeling and Simulations Center (SimCenter) in 2016. He was inducted into the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Hall of Fame in 2012.
Lotfi Zadeh, professor emeritus and world-renowned computer scientist, died in September at the age of 96. A native of Azerbaijan, he joined the faculty of the electrical engineering department at Berkeley in 1959 and was department chair from 1963–68. His work focused on linear systems and automata theory, and his textbook with Charles Desoer laid the foundation for the modern approach to systems analysis and control. In 1965, he authored his seminal paper on fuzzy sets, or fuzzy logic, which initiated a new direction that led to a vast literature and a rapidly-growing number of applications, ranging from consumer products to subway trains and decision-support systems. He was an IEEE fellow, National Academy of Engineering member and received more than 50 awards for his work. (Photo by Aaron Walburg)
Kent Bingham (B.S.’58 CE) died in March at the age of 82. He was the chief structural engineer for the Walt Disney Company, including projects at Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland and California Adventure. He also worked on the King Kong and Earthquake attractions at Universal Studios, the sinking pirate ship for Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, the Las Vegas monorail system, the trolley for the Grove in Los Angeles and a prototype tram system for the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Over the last decade, he shifted his focus to alternative energy sources, working on advanced technologies for water, energy and transportation.
Sam Blackman (M.S.’99 EECS) died in August at the age of 41. He was the co-founder and CEO of AWS Elemental, a software company that delivers internet video to consumer devices. A tech visionary, he worked at Silicon Graphics, Intel and Pixelworks before forming Elemental Technologies — one of Portland, Oregon’s biggest startup successes — which was acquired by Amazon Web Services in 2015.
Joseph Kaplan (B.S.’48 CE) died in February at the age of 92. A German native who immigrated to the United States in 1938, he founded and managed his own construction company, Joseph Kaplan Inc., for 49 years. He was also an active volunteer with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Construction Safety Institute and the Cal Alumni Association, among other organizations, and received numerous awards for his outstanding service.
Frank Kreith (B.S.’45 ME) died in January at the age of 95. Born in Austria, he fled during the Holocaust and eventually came to Berkeley to study engineering. After graduating, he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, then taught at Berkeley and Lehigh University before joining the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A solar energy and sustainability expert, he also led a research branch of the Solar Energy Research Institute and advised lawmakers on energy and environmental issues.