Elected in 1974
“For contributions to the theory and practice of control systems, and systems engineering.”
BY STEPHEN KAHNE
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
HAROLD CHESTNUT, engineer and visionary, died in Schenectady, New York, on August 29, 2001, at the age of 83. He was born a few miles from where he died, worked much of his life at the General Electric Company (GE) nearby, and made major contributions to engineering and the engineering profession throughout the world.
Hal earned a B.S. (1939) and an M.S. (1940) in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was later awarded honorary doctorates in engineering from Case Institute of Technology (1966) and Villanova University (1972). Although he was not an academician, he was involved in education from his early years as an engineer, when he was both a student and an instructor in the well-known GE Advanced Engineering Program (Electrical Engineering Course) from 1940 to 1943. At that time there were very few engineering doctoral programs at U.S. universities, and GE’s in-house program set a high standard for industry-developed advanced technical education attuned to the needs of the company.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Hal wrote four textbooks in the fields of control and a two-volume work, Servomechanisms and Regulating Systems Design, coauthored with Robert W. Mayer (John Wiley & Sons, Volume 1 in 1951 and Volume 2 in 1955). Servomechanisms established Hal’s international reputation,