This industry has grown and prospered over the years because of its unique technologies, but perhaps even more because of its unique individuals—engineers and others who have brought knowledge, insight, and integrity to companies and projects, often in pursuit of seemingly unreachable goals. The technologies advanced by these special individuals have supported such a wide range of industries, from commercial cellular communications to military radar systems. The five honorees who are being added to the Microwaves & RF list of “Microwave Legends” for 2013 are certainly deserving, but just a sampling of the many more that deserve to be on the list (and will most certainly be added in the years to come).
Alan Borck - Sadly, Charles Alan Borck passed away earlier this year at the age of 87. Borck, the founder of RLC Electronics in Mt. Kisco, NY, brought his tremendous will to the company that would become one of the leading passive-component designers and suppliers in this industry. Since its inception in 1959, RLC has grown to feature expansive lines of attenuators, couplers, filters, switches, and many other high-power RF/microwave components.
Borck was never known for mincing words, and many advertising salespeople (including those from this magazine) knew to prepare themselves before meeting with him. Indeed, customers and competitors alike were well aware of his direct manner. But they also realized that underneath the tough exterior was a true gentleman—one who demonstrated clear dedication to his family, as well as a strong love for the RF/microwave industry.
Borck applied his intelligence and passion to everything he did, and he remained involved with RLC up until his passing. He left behind a company with initials that represent the three building-block components of passive components, and one that is certainly in good hands with his successors.
Guglielmo Marconi - The famed Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) is often referred to as the inventor of radio. He conducted pioneering work on long-distance radio transmissions and shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun for contributions to wireless telegraphy. Marconi was a founder of The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in 1897 in England, and had a great deal to do with the medium’s commercial success.
Amarpal P.S. ("Paul") Khanna - Although he is currently an IEEE Fellow, in addition to Vice President of Components and Sub-Assemblies at Phase Matrix, Dr. Paul Khanna is often referred to as “Dr. DRO” for his pioneering work on dielectric resonator oscillators (DROs). Khanna, who has led engineering teams at the legendary Avantek in Santa Clara, CA, as well as at Hewlett-Packard Co./Agilent Technologies, and Celeritek. He is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University, where he teaches a graduate course in RF/microwave measurements.
Khanna developed many of the early DRO designs as well as the means to measure these low-noise oscillators. In addition, his time at Avantek produced a number of high-performance yttrium-indium-garnet (YIG) tunable oscillators that would become the low-noise, high-frequency signal sources for many different test instruments. These include the signal generators and spectrum analyzers produced by Hewlett-Packard Co., and later by Agilent Technologies.
In the late 1980s, Khanna created an oscillator technology for DROs and voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) in which oscillations are switched on and off by quenching negative resistance with a PIN diode, making possible wideband, spurious-free multiple-oscillator assemblies with fast switching speeds and fast settling times. Khanna earned his Ph.D. in microwave and optical communications from the University of Limoges in France. He holds five US and two French patents.
John Minck - Well known by members of the press during his 37 years at Hewlett-Packard Co., and his subsequent years when it became Agilent Technologies, John Minck was as knowledgeable a Marcom Manager as ever graced his company (or this industry, for that matter). He was well versed on the R&D activities of the test-and-measurement giant’s various divisions. For members of the press, Minck certainly represented a “one-stop shopping” experience, since he was a reliable source for anything new within Hewlett-Packard for those many years.
In fact, proof of his knowledge can be found in the 80-page book, “Inside HP: A Narrative History of Hewlett-Packard from 1939-1990.” It is available as a free download. Minck explains that he started writing the book in the early 1980s as a way for new employees to understand its culture.
Donald Shepherd - The Founder and Chairman of Amplifier Research in Souderton, PA, Shepherd has been a driving force in the RF/microwave industry; he supports major clients in such large markets as the aerospace, automotive, medical, and telecommunications industries. Shepherd literally started AR in his basement, growing it into a global company with an international list of clients.