The University Record, March 22, 1999


Ralph E. Hiatt

Professor Emeritus Ralph E. Hiatt (M '47, SM '51, F '67, LF '80) passed away on May 26, 1998, in Charlottesville, Va., after sustaining a fall and severe head injury the day before while trying to put a birdfeeder in a tree. He sacrificed his life as a result of his tender love and care of wild birds. The professional community lost an eminent leader, a pioneer in radar technology and antenna research.

Born in Portland, Ind., in 1910, Hiatt received a B.A. in physics from Indiana Central College, Indianapolis, in 1932, and an M.A. in physics from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1937. He taught mathematics and science in Indiana public schools until 1942, when he joined the MIT Radiation Laboratory conducting national defense research. During the last two years of World War II, he was the chief of the Ipswich Antenna Test Station of the Radiation Laboratory.

He joined the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories in 1945 where he became the Chief of the Antenna Laboratory. In 1958, he joined the Radiation Laboratory of the University as an associate director and became the director in 1961. He was appointed professor of electrical engineering in 1966.

Hiatt was responsible for organizing key experimental courses dealing with electromagnetic radiation and optical wave propagation at Michigan. These courses were unique in a major university in that period. He retired in 1980, and was given the emeritus title by the Regents of the University.

Prof. Hiatt was active in many professional societies, particularly the IEEE Antenna and Propoagation Society, of which he was president in 1970. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Arts and Science, a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electonic Engineers, and a member of the American Physical Society and scholastic societies Eta Kappa Nu and Sigma Xi. He was awarded the 1990 Distinguished Alumnus Award posthumously by his Alma Mater, the University of Indianapolis, formerly Indiana Central College, four days after his death.

He is survived by his wife, Elloise; three children, Robert, David and Jean; three brothers, Virgil, Herbert and Lloyd; three sisters, Mary, Irene and Lisabeth; and five grandchildren.

Submitted by Chen-To Tai, professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer science