Chauncey Guy Suits

Chauncey Guy Suits
Chauncey Guy Suits
Oshkosh, WI, USA
Associated organizations
General Electric (GE)
IEEE Frederik Philips Award


Publishers of the current spate of do-it-yourself books might well pause to consider the story of Dr. Chauncey Guy Suits. retired vice president and director of research of the General Electric Company and recently named recipient of the 1974 Frederik Philips Award. Dr. Suits, inquisitive and energetic, as befits one who has been both a scientist and an executive, has not only designed his own boomerangs and skis. largely furnished his home with handsome copies of antique furniture, remodeled an old farmhouse. rewoven Oriental rugs, and made camera cases of leather, but has also at one time or another been a self-taught professional clarinetist, hiker, camper, skier, yachtsman, skin diver, and photographer. ·

If he had pursued all these hobbies simultaneously with his customary enthusiasm they might well have interfered with his work. There is ample evidence that they did not. In 1945, already a distinguished scientist, he became at the age of 39, the youngest officer of GE and director of one of the world's foremost research laboratories. He had been a member of the GE Research Laboratory staff since 1930. and was widely known for his work in many phases of scientific research, especially high temperature. high pressure electric arc discharges. His scientific publications number approximately 80: he holds 77 patents.

During World War II he devoted the major portion of his time to the direction of research under the auspices of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. As Chief of Division 15. of the National Defense Research Committee. he headed the "Radio Coordination" activities. the chief U.S. effort on radio and radar countermeasures (jamming) in the U.S. and in England. The division's countermeasures played a major part in covering the landings in Normandy and Southern France.

Dr. Suits was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, March 12, 1905. He was graduated B.A. at the University of Wisconsin in 1927 and Sc.D at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland (Institute of International Education Fellow) in 1929. He received numerous academic honors. including election to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. He then returned to the University of Wisconsin for additional work in physics and at this time also was active as consultant to the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory. Madison, Wisconsin. where he invented a device for measuring the moisture content of wood by electrical means. which was subsequently widely used in the wood product industries. During undergraduate years. he worked as a professional musician. At the end of World War II. he returned to General Electric and became Vice President and Director of Research. In 1946 he became additionally responsible for the extensive work of the company for the Atomic Energy Commission. including the development of atomic power plants for the production of useful power.

Honorary Sc.D degrees were conferred on him by Union College in 1944. Hamilton College in 1946. Drexel Institute in 1955 and Marquette University in 1959. and an honorary D. Eng. degree by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1950. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers (now combined as IEEE), and of the American Physical Society. He is a member of the American Institute of Physics and of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

When the National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the NAS. he became one of the 25 charter members, upon nomination of the Joint Engineering Council.

Dr. and Mrs. Suits reside at Crosswinds. Pilot Knob. N.Y.

Further Reading

Guy Suits oral history