Donald Novotny Cause Of Death, Obituary Not Yet Available – Donald Novotny, Emeritus Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, died on May 7, 2022, at the age of 87. During a half-century career at UW-Madison, Novotny was a respected visionary in the fields of electric machines, variable-frequency AC drive systems, and power electronic control of industrial systems, and an inspiration to countless students and colleagues.
According to engineering.wisc.edu, Novotny was born in December 1934 on Chicago’s south side and obtained a full scholarship at the Illinois Institute of Technology through his employer, Illinois Central Railroad (IIT). He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering near the top of his class in 1956, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1957. Novotny then obtained a post as an instructor at IIT, where he taught electrical and mechanical engineering courses.
He traveled to Madison, Wisconsin in 1958 to pursue his PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which he received later. In 1961, Novotny joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, where he worked with the University Industry Research (UIR) Program. His first book, Introductory Electromechanics, was published in 1965 and is still regarded a classic in the area. He was promoted to full professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1968, and served as Associate Director of the (UIR) Program from 1972 to 1974, as well as ECE Department Chair from 1976 to 1980.
Novotny created an innovative concept for the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) in 1980. The program set ambitious ambitions to develop generic research and teaching efforts that would increase interactions between academics and industry, starting with a $25,000 grant.
WEMPEC was established in January 1981, and it continues to be a premier think-tank where industry partners, UW-Madison Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty, staff, students, and international scholars collaborate on research and development of the most cutting-edge technologies and techniques in electric machines, power electronics, actuators, sensors, drives, motion control, and drive applications.
From 1981 to 1996, Novotny served as a director of WEMPEC, where he was instrumental in transforming the organization into a thriving technology center that educates the next generation of engineering researchers and leaders in power electronics and electromechanical power conversion, as well as supporting innovative research that benefits its corporate sponsors.
WEMPEC, now in its 41st year, is an internationally recognized program with a network of 80 corporate sponsors and a large on-campus community of 78 faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students who conduct research and develop technology innovations for future products five to ten years from commercial production.
With approximately $1.5 million in annual support from industry partners, it is one of the world’s largest consortiums of its kind.
Professor Giri Venkataramanan, who took Novotny’s classes as a doctoral student at UW-Madison and is now the director of WEMPEC, recalls Novotny’s remarkable lectures from the 1980s and the significant impact Novotny had on his future.
“Throughout his career, Professor Novotny embodied the Wisconsin Idea of bringing the university’s beneficial benefits to the people of Wisconsin, and he is one of my greatest role models who continues to shape my academic life,” Venkataramanan says.
Six patents, five books, and over 100 journal papers and other publications were among Novotny’s accomplishments. He was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1987 and received the coveted IEEE Nikola Tesla Award in 2009. Novotny was honored “for pioneering contributions to the analysis and understanding of AC machine dynamic behavior and performance in adjustable-speed drives,” according to the association.
Novotny, an avid fisherman, pioneered electrofishing research and wrote a book on the subject. He was especially proud of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ publishing of a widely utilized technical bulletin on the issue of improved designs and operational procedures for electrofishing in 1974.
“Professor Don Novotny left an indelible impression on the ECE Department and UW-Madison,” Jahns said about his colleague.
The obituary will be published online by the family and will contain funeral plans, dates, and burial arrangements.