Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

ECE News Story

Professor Chen-To Tai

Memorial Tribute to Chen-To Tai

Chen-To Tai, one of the most respected and influential scientists in electromagnetics and antenna theory, passed away peacefully at his home in Ann Arbor on July 30, 2004.

Professor Tai was born in 1915 in Luzhi Township on the outskirts of Soochow, China. In 1943, six years after receiving his bachelor's degree in physics from Tsing-Hua University, he traveled to the United States to attend Harvard University. He received his master's degree in Communication Engineering from Harvard in 1944, followed by a Doctor of Science degree in 1947. He joined the Cruft Laboratory as a research fellow, and in 1949, became a member of the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto as a research physicist.

In 1954, he was appointed Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Ohio State University. Two years later, he left to take a faculty position at the Technical Institute of Aeronautics in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, where he became proficient in Portuguese. He returned to OSU in 1961 and then, in 1964, joined the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Radiation Laboratory.

He remained a faculty member of the ECE Department for the remainder of his career, and was made Emeritus Professor in 1986. During that time, he worked part time for KMS Industries (1967-69). Following his formal retirement, he continued as an active member of the Radiation Laboratory.

Throughout his career, Professor Tai received many honors and awards. He was elected Fellow of the IEEE in 1962, and received the AP-S Distinguished Achievement Award in 1986 and the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1985 when he was made a Life Fellow of the IEEE. He also received outstanding faculty and teaching awards from the Ohio State University and the University of Michigan and was awarded honorary professorships by Shanghai Normal University, Chongdu Institute of Radio Engineering and Nanjing Institute of Post and Communication in 1980, 1986, and 1987 respectively. He was appointed a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1987 and received the IEEE Heinrich Hertz Medal in 1998.

Professor Tai is recognized throughout the world for his research on antennas and electromagnetics. He was a dedicated teacher known for the clarity of his lectures and was both loved and respected by his students and colleagues. In addition to his technical work, he had a variety of other interests and hobbies including tennis, Chinese literature, painting, calligraphy, and music (both Chinese and classical western). In 2000, to honor his love for teaching and education, his family and friends created the annual IEEE AP-S Chen-To Tai Distinguished Educator Award. Professor Tai is survived by his wife, Ming, and by five children and ten grandchildren.

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers its condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Chen-To Tai, and expresses its gratitude for his many years of dedication and service to his students, colleagues and the University of Michigan. His many exceptional contributions will leave a lasting legacy.