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“He was the father of us all.” Ernie Guillemin and the teaching of modern network theory

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1 Author(s)
Bissell, C.C. ; Open Univ., Milton Keynes

Historians of electrical technology deal routinely with inventions, inventors, theoreticians, large-scale socio-technological systems, and corporate and institutional history. Yet one category of major contributor to the development of the discipline is rarely considered in detail: the engineering educator. This paper presents the contribution of one of the outstanding teachers of electronics of the twentieth century - in particular, a teacher of the communications networks, circuit theory and filter design so important to modern telecommunication systems - Ernst (Ernie) Guillemin. Guillemin studied electrical engineering at Wisconsin and MIT. He was granted a Saltonstall Traveling Fellowship which allowed him to study under Arnold Sommerfeld in Munich, gaining a PhD there in 1926. He returned to MIT and spent the majority of his career there, working first with Vannevar Bush, and then contributing to various wartime projects in the MIT Radiation Laboratory. Guillemin became full professor in 1944, concentrated increasingly on network theory in his teaching and research, and was awarded various medals and honours over the next two decades. He died on 6 April 1970. Guilleminpsilas major pedagogical legacy is a magisterial series of six sole-authored books together with substantial contributions to two of MITpsilas renowned ldquoblue booksrdquo - the text books authored by MIT staff as the EE curriculum was modernised in the late 1930s and 1940s. This paper aims to demonstrate why his name became a by-word for excellence in electronics engineering education, and why a several generations of former students and colleagues revere him and his legacy.

Published in:

History of Telecommunications Conference, 2008. HISTELCON 2008. IEEE

Date of Conference:

11-12 Sept. 2008