IEEE Elects Research Pioneer President

Peter Staecker ’66 ’70EE, whose work has vastly improved several engineering reliability and measurement processes, has been chosen president-elect of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association. 

Staecker, who retired in 1998 as director of research and development from the Massachusetts Technology Corporation AMP M/A-COM, will take office in January 2013. 

Staecker, an IEEE Life Fellow, said his interest in engineering started early: “As a young boy I enjoyed building things, and had some aptitude for math and science.” After earning his BS in electrical engineering in 1964 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he joined MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in 1972. He designed microwave devices and circuits and developed measurement techniques for their application to satellite communications. He made a major contribution to the field when he developed the first test systems that allowed engineers to accurately measure the reflection of high-frequency waves traveling on microwave circuits.

Engineering today is also leading efforts to create solutions that benefit humanity.”
                                               -Peter Staecker

In 1986, Staecker joined M/A-COM, a supplier of high-powered vacuum tubes to the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and developed programs and products in microwave and millimeter-wave technology. He also designed a series of high-efficiency, high-power frequency multipliers that convert signal frequencies and are often used in communications circuits. “The trick was to make this conversion with as little power loss as possible,” he said, “either because not much power is available, as in the case of satellite-communications receivers, or because large amounts of power are required, as with radar transmitters.” Staecker was able to achieve record power levels for M/A-COM radar transmitters by using these multipliers.

Staecker, who has been an active IEEE volunteer for 28 years, says IEEE is important to the profession because “members are always looking for new ways to collaborate and to create. We not only want to move our profession forward, but also to create an environment in which technical professionals can improve the quality of life for our fellow humans.” He is particularly proud of one aspect of IEEE work, improving the quality of life for underserved populations through the use of technology. “I find being a member of the humanitarian technology activities committee to be a challenging but very gratifying way to use my skills to help others.”

Among his other professional activities, Staecker worked on the National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (1996-1999) and serves on the editorial advisory review boards of Microwave Journal and of Artech House, which publishes high-tech books and engineering software. He is past-president of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.
When Staecker began graduate studies at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, he found the faculty “tough and encouraging.” He also found “dedicated teachers and researchers” who were helpful and influential. NYU-Poly today, he said, is “vibrant.” At a recent IEEE event on campus, he met faculty “who showed a spirit of entrepreneurship, energy and pride that is producing the same in each new student class. It’s a great time to pursue an engineering career, period. Being at NYU-Poly makes the experience that much more memorable.”

Staecker’s advice for young people considering engineering: “Do it! It’s a great time to be a part of the profession—from the cell phones you use to the wireless connection you’re using in your dorm to the solar panels popping up everywhere. They’re created by engineers, the people that will help build tomorrow.”

“Engineering today is also leading efforts to create solutions that benefit humanity,” he said, “from America’s inner cities to the developing countries of the world—in clean water, health care in remote areas, pre-college and continuing education, and in the creation of clean, renewable and sustainable sources of energy. Trust me, that’s something that you want to be a part of.”