Richard B. Adler


Richard B. Adler
Richard B. Adler
New York City, NY, USA
Death date
Associated organizations
Fields of study
IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal


Born in New York City in 1922, Dr. Richard B. Adler received his early education in the New York City Public Schools and at the Loomis School, Windsor, Connecticut. He attended Harvard College (1939-1941) and received his S.B. (1943) and Sc.D. (1949) degrees from M.I.T.

A Navy officer from 1944 to 1946, he was an instructor at the M.I.T. Radar School and then in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He became an assistant professor in 1950, associate professor in 1955, and professor in 1959. He was leader of the Solid-State and Transistor Group of the M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory from 1951 to 1953. He held the Cecil E. Green Professorship in Electrical Engineering during 1975 and 1976. In September 1978 he became Associate Head for Electrical Science and Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and held the Distinguished Professorship in that department.

He received the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society Premium Award in 1955 and M.I.T. Sloan awards for teaching in 1955 and 1956. Dr. Adler was co-author of seven books, has published over a dozen technical papers.

His contribution to electrical engineering pedagogy is amply documented by two sets of textbooks: a pair in the area of electromagnetic fields and waves, and a series in semiconductor electronics. His collaboration with Fano and Chu led to the publication of Electromagnetic Fields, Energy and Forces, and Electrical Energy Transmission and Radiation, textbooks which revolutionized the teaching of traditional Electrical Engineering in the late 50's. Material which had been taught only in graduate subjects or research seminars was now for the first time presented at a level appropriate for undergraduate instruction.

In the 60's, he established the Semiconductor Electronics Education Committee, a group of thirty leaders in the field from both industry and university. He was Technical Director of this group, and as such must be given the primary credit for the texts and films the group produced. Viewed from the perspective of the past 20 years, the work of this Committee totally reshaped the teaching of electronics throughout the country.

He was a member of Sigma Xi, Thu Beta Pi, and Eta Kappa Nu honorary societies and was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Adler and his wife, the former Dorothy Gordon, resided in Concord, Massachusetts, which they shared with five cats and a dog. They had three sons, Gordon, Nicholas, and Lucas. Dr. Adler's hobbies were skiing and playing the recorder.