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Memorial Tributes, Volume 11
WILBUR B. DAVENPORT JR.
Elected in 1975
“For Contributions to communications engineering and educationand for leadership in continuing engineering education.”
BY LEO L. BERANEK
WILBUR B. DAVENPORT, Professor Emeritus of Communication Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), died on August 28, 2003. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 27, 1920.
Wilbur received the degree of Bachelor of Electrical Engineering in 1941 from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama. He matriculated that fall at MIT and received the Master of Science degree in 1943. From 1943 to 1946, he was ensign and lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Naval Reserve. When he completed his active military service, he returned to MIT and, in 1950, received the Doctor of Science degree. His first published paper, “Statistical Errors in Measurements on Random Time Functions,” co-authored by R.A. Johnson and D. Middleton, appeared in the Journal of Applied Physics in April 1952. The paper was the first in a series on statistical theory.
Wilbur was made an assistant professor of electrical engineering in 1949, when Harold Hazen was chairman of the department. When the Lincoln Laboratory was founded in 1951, Wilbur was invited to be one of its first members as a group leader. In 1955, he was named associate division head, and two years later he became division head, a title he held for three years.
In 1960, Gordon Brown, head of the Department of Electrical Engineering, asked Wilbur to become a professor of electrical engineering. In 1961, he appointed Wilbur associate head of