Kiyo Tomiyasu

Dr. Kiyo Tomiyasu

890 East Harrison Ave, Apt 30
Pomona, CA, USA

Early pioneer in remote microwave sensing of the earth / Philanthropist

Kiyo Tomiyasu, IEEE Life Fellow Member, IEEE MTTS Honorary Life Member and IEEE GRSS Honorary Life Member passed away at the age of 96 on 9 December 2015 in Pomona, California, USA.

Kiyo received his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineerng from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, in 1940 and his M.S. degree in Communication Engineering from Columbia University, New York, NY, in 1941. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Engineering Science and Applied Physics from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1948.

During his long active career, Kiyo contributed to developments on ferrites, microwave components, spectroscopy, lasers, radiometers, microwave remote sensing of the earth using satellite-borne radiometers, scatterometers and synthetic aperture radars. This including leading roles in the NASA/JSC Skylab S-193 Microwave Radiometer Scatterometer Altimeter and NASA Langley Research Center AAFE RADSCAT sensor. Kiyo’s 1956 patent entitled “Serrated choke system for electromagnetic waveguide” (assigned to the Sperry Rand Corporation) was instrumental in the invention of the microwave oven door seal some three decades later, still used to protect people today.  He initially joined Sperry Gyroscope Company in 1949 and transferred to General Electric Company in 1955.  With GE, he was in Palo Alto, California; Schenectady, New York; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  After corporate mergers, he was employed by Lockheed Martin Company and retired in 2005.

At the IEEE level, he was a Director (1985-86) and served on many IEEE Boards, including the Board of Directors, Awards Board, Technical Activities Board, Publications Board, and Educational Activities Board.

In 1955 Kiyo joined the Administrative Committee (AdCom) of IEEE PGMTT (now Microwaves Theory and Techniques Society – MTT-S). He served as MTT-S President in 1960-61 and Editor of Transactions on Microwaves Theory and Techniques in 1958-59.  In 1973 he was elected as an Honorary Life Member of MTT-S and continued to be active with the MTT-S AdCom until shortly before his passing.

His involvement with the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) began in 1980, when GRSS was formed as a reorganization of the Group on Geoscience Electronics. Kiyo served as the first GRSS Awards Chair. He became an Honorary Life Member of the GRSS and its Administrative Committee (AdCom) in 1999 and continued to be active with the GRSS AdCom until shortly before his passing.

Kiyo helped to establish two IEEE Foundation Funds that support students: the Harold Sobol Student Grant, administered by the IEEE MTT Society; and the Mikio Takagi Student Prize, administered by the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society. He initiated the IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award, an IEEE Technical Field Award that recognizes early-to-mid-career contributions to technologies that show the promise of innovative applications. He was inducted by the IEEE Foundation into the IEEE Heritage Circle at the Thomas Alva Edison level of giving.  Dr. and Mrs. Tomiyasu also created the Eiko and Kiyo Tomiyasu Endowed Professorship at California Institute of Technology.

Kiyo became a Fellow of the IEEE in 1962 – “For contributions to microwave theory.”  He received the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984 and the Third Millennium Medal in 2000.  In 1977 he was a recipient of the General Electric Company’s Charles Proteus Steinmetz Award for outstanding individual achievement over a sustained period as evidenced by impact on the company and society.

Kiyo was a wonderful mentor to several generations of currently active MTT-S and GRSS AdCom members.  His gentle manner of teaching and his quiet leadership will always be remembered by those lucky enough to have been his IEEE “students”.

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