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Paul L. Penfield, Jr. ScD '60

Professor of Electrical Engineering, emeritus

Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Electrical Engineering, 2000 - 2005

Professor of Electrical Engineering, emeritus

Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Electrical Engineering, 2000 - 2005

Paul L. Penfield, Jr. ScD ’60
Professor of Electrical Engineering, emeritus
Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Electrical Engineering, 2000 - 2005
Department Head, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 1989 - 1999
Director, Microsystems Research Center, 1985 - 1989

Professor Paul L. Penfield, originally from Birmingham, Michigan, received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College, where he majored in physics and worked as the chief engineer on the college radio station. After receiving his Doctorate, Professor Penfield joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering. From 1989–1999, he served as head of what had become the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). During this time, he oversaw the creation of the groundbreaking five-year degree program for the Master of Electrical Engineering.

Professor Penfield has received numerous awards, including the 1999 Presidential Citation from the MIT Alumni Association. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and former chairman of the Boston section. He received the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984, the Circuits and Systems Society Darlington Prize Paper Award in 1985, and the Circuits and Systems Society Gold Jubilee Award in 1999.

Professor Penfield is the author of five books and dozens of articles in various fields that range from electrodynamics of moving media to noise and thermodynamics. He retired from MIT in 2005, but still teaches a class for freshmen.

Highlights of this interview include:

  • The invention and evolution of transistor technology.
  • Early experiences at Amherst College’s radio station.
  • Reflections on time as the head of EECS at MIT.
  • Growth and expansion of EECS, MIT’s largest department.
  • Awards and publications.

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