Once they begin careers in the microwave and RF industry, many people stay here. After all, this industry has historically been a nice place to work in terms of its people, engineering challenges, competition, recognition, and professionalism. Over the decades, microwave companies provided growth opportunities for their employees as they created new innovations.
Every August, we induct five new nominees into our "Microwave Legends," all of whom have left an indelible “print” on the microwave industry. Inductees are nominated and voted upon by both the staff of Microwaves & RF and our readers, . Check out our current line-up below. If you think we omitted someone or something, please drop us a line. We'll be happy to consider your nominee for next year.
Charles K. (Ned) Birdsall is credited with building the foundations of plasma science. In the 1950s, he showed that electron streams could be amplified by the presence of a resistive wall. In doing so, Birdsall proved the existence of negative energy waves. He thus pioneered the concept of coupling between positive and negative energy waves. Birdsall’s ring-bar traveling-wave tube (TWT) is still used in broadband military communications. During the 1960s, he discovered virtual cathode oscillations. Yet Birdsall is probably best known for establishing particle-in-cell simulation, which provides first principle solutions of a wide range of plasma phenomena.
An IEEE Life Fellow, Birdsall is Professor Emeritus in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He also was recognized this year by the IEEE, having received the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award.
Dan Cheadle has always followed a simple design philosophy: Design it as a catalog part, but install sufficient tuning options at the substrate level for some performance flexibility. Even if it was a basic catalog part, Dan was sure to build it as if it were for a space or military application. His first job was at Lockheed Sunnyvale in the antenna lab. Later, Dan moved to a small, private company called Relcom, where he learned about frequency mixers and other components. Within a few years, Watkins-Johnson Co. had acquired Relcom and Dan found himself developing a new product line: TO-8 amplifiers.
Dan developed WJ’s first TO-8 amplifier, eventually building the company’s handful of TO-8 amplifiers into a product family requiring a 500-page catalog. In 1986, he founded Cougar Components, designing and manufacturing RF and microwave performance-based hybrid amplifiers and other components.
Douglas G. Lockie is an expert in millimeter-wave technology. He has authored or co-authored 14 patents in the field of microwave and millimeter-wave-communications components and systems. Having served as an Avionics Officer in the US Air Force, Doug also was instrumental in introducing gallium-arsenide (GaAs) microwave circuitry into radar (the F-15) and missile systems (AMRAAM AIM-120). In addition, he is credited with leading or significantly contributing to the development of microwave and millimeter radio subsystems at 12, 15, 18, 23, 28, 38, 60, 70, 80, and 90 GHz.
Doug created the millimeter-wave payload architecture for the Teledesic Satellite Phase I system (at that time Calling Communications Corp.). He also created the payload design for Angel Technologies, which resulted in the Bert Rutan/Scaled Composites Proteus Aircraft. (Doug’s radome for the payload drove the design for the rest of the aircraft; see photo).
A Watkins-Johnson Co. veteran, Doug founded Endgate Corp. in 1991. In 1999, it became Endwave Corp. He co-founded Pacific Monolithics, Inc. with Allen Podell. Doug also co-founded Gigabeam Corp. He was a member of the FCC rulemaking committee for LMDS and has served on the FCC Spectrum Application Panel. He is currently President of Endgate Associates in Los Gatos, CA.
Fred Schumacher was known as an innovative, passionate microwave engineer and mentor to many. A veteran of the US Marines, he served many roles including CEO of Spectratek Corp. Schumacher was known for creating a company with a very special environment— Aertech Industries, which he co-founded with Harold Harrison.
Aertech Industries specialized in semiconductor and microwave technologies pertaining to radar, telecommunications, and satellite components. Some of their early products were based on the then-new tunnel diode, such as a tunnel-diode detector and amplifier. In 1967, Aertech components were used in the country’s first manned mission to the moon. In 1974, the board members elected to sell Aertech to TRW.
Harold Harrison served as the firm’s President until 1977. Before Aertech, Harry had spent 13 years at NASA followed by a short stint at GE. He later focused on operational consulting, specializing in corporate turnaround and merger situations for Narda Microwave’s west-coast operations, DCA Reliability, Frequency Sources West Division, and Eaton Corp., Microwave Products Division—to name a few.