Fred J. Vogel

Fred J. Vogel
Fred J. Vogel
Bangor, ME, USA
Associated organizations
Illinois Institute of Technology, Armour Research Foundation, Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company
Fields of study
IEEE William M. Habirshaw Award


Fred John Vogel, born April 15, 1893 in Bangor, Maine, had a long, varied and productive career. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1915 with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering. He worked briefly for Electrical Testing Laboratory before serving as a submarine inspector for the United States Navy during World War I. In 1919 he joined the Transformer Division of Westinghouse Electric Corp. where he held design, insulation and development engineering posts prior to being named division engineer in charge of power transformers.

In 1943 Mr. Vogel joined the electrical engineering faculty or Illinois Institute of Technology. While teaching. he was consulting engineer for Armour Research Foundation and Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. In 1951 he became full-time consultant for Allis-Chalmers, until 1958 at Milwaukee, and from 1958 to 1961 at the Pitsburgh, Pa., and Terre Haute, Indiana plants. After retiring at the age of 68, Mr. Vogel served as consultant to Pratt-Whitney Co. and others. From 1963 to 1969 he served as consultant to McGraw-Edison Power Systems Division at Canonsburg, Pa.

While transformers and their design have been the corner-stone of his career. Mr. Vogel specifically has made his main contributions in transformer insulation practices. In 1925 he designed the first 1,000,000-volt testing transformer, which was in use for over 40 years. He designed the insulation for the first 287-kv autotransformers, for use at Boulder Dam. Mr. Vogel was one of the leaders in establishing impulse testing practice and standards. During the thirties, he obtained and published a considerable amount of data on the relative impulse strength of insulation and insulation structures. His insulation theories have been successfully applied to construction of large power shell-form and medium power core-form transformers, as well as high-voltage, oil-filled instrument transformers.

In addition to his insulation accomplishments, Mr. Vogel's work has involved participation in condenser type bushings and forced oil flow cooling developments, in the practice of vacuum oil impregnating of transformers, and in contributions to the understanding of transformer thermal design and insulation life. During his career, he has been issued 16 patents associated with transformer design, construction and testing.

Culmination of his efforts in impulse testing, corona free insulation designs and insulation coordination was reached in the early fifties when he was first to advocate use of reduced insulation levels for power transformers. This concept met with considerable dissent at the time, although present practices have gone beyond the original proposal. Some criticisms of reduced insulation levels led to his proposals for switching surge and corona tests. Mr. Vogel was the pioneer and foremost advocate of corona-free insulation designs. His original recommendations for corona testing using a "charge" type of detector is now coming into world-wide acceptance. It is doubtful that the economic success of 500 and 750-kv power transmission could have been attained without the reduction in insulation levels conceived by Mr. Vogel.

Three times during his career, Mr. Vogel has rendered important service to the United States Navy. During World War I his work as a submarine inspector required trial runs in the Atlantic under war-time conditions. During World War II he was assigned by Westinghouse to direct development of an electrically driven torpedo. The result of this work was the Mark XVIII torpedo, thousands of which were manufactured. During the period that he was teaching at Illinois Institute of Technology. Mr. Vogel developed for the Navy a corona-free, high-voltage radar pulse transformer. He received the Navy's Award of Merit for this work.

Mr. Vogel has been a Fe1low of the Institute since 1949, a Life Member since 1956 and a member since 1922. He has been an active supporter of IEEE activities, contributing over 30 technical papers on transformers and insulation. Mr. Vogel served as chairman of the Transformer Suhcommittee when it was a part of the AIEE Electrical Machinery Committee. He also has served as chairman, vice-chairman and secretary of the IEEE Transformer Committee. In addition. he has served as the Chairman of AIEE Coordinating Committee No. 4, the Dielectric Test Subcommittee, and the Working Group on Revisions to Dielectric Tests. Mr. Vogel has served as Chairman of the IEEE representatives to the USASI Sectional Committee on Transformers Regulators and Reactors, contributing material for the C57 series of standards. He has also served on various instrument and measurement committees.

Mr. Vogel was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu and Sigma Xi. He was cited in American Men of Science, 1949, and Who's Who in Engineering, 1948, and was a registered professional engineer.

On the personal side, Mr. Vogel was a member or the Episcopal Church and has been active in Masonry for most of his adult life. His hobbies included the piano, which he has played since a young man, and in later years the electric organ. He had long had an interest in photography and enjoyed golf and bowling. Both he and his wife were able and enthusiastic bridge players.

Mr. Vogel and Mrs. Vogel, the former Mary Shaw of Brookfield. Ohio. resided in Clearwater, Florida. They had three married daughters and fifteen grandchildren.

Further Reading

Fred Vogel oral history