SOUE News Issue 3


Professor EGS Paige FRS

Peter Raynes

Ted Paige joined the Department of Engineering Science in 1977 as Professor of Electrical Engineering. Since 1955 he had been at the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern where he had a distinguished research career and was one of the first to realise the potential of Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW) for constructing devices as important components in radar and telecommunications.

Ted was born and brought up in East Sussex in the years prior to and during the second world war. He attended Rye Grammar School, which for his first three years was based in Bedford where Ted was billeted with a variety of families. As a boy he spent a lot of time roaming Romney Marshes investigating wildlife and taking samples home to examine under a microscope. This interest in the natural world, and of birds in particular, remained throughout his life, developing into a passion for photography in his later years. In 1949 he was awarded a County Scholarship and obtained a place at Reading University to read Physics. When he was awarded a first he decided he wanted to stop on at Reading and study the application of quantum mechanics to solid state physics; this was how he became Bill Mitchell's (later Sir William Mitchell, FRS) first research student. Ted's PhD research was on the optical effects of radiation damage in quartz and the major part of the work was a study of the change in infra red absorption produced by X-rays and neutrons.

Finding research to his liking, Ted applied to the Civil Service Commission for, and was awarded, a Junior Research Fellowship. He had a choice of where he held it, and after a tour of several laboratories, he opted for the then Radar Research Establishment (RRE) at Malvern. He moved to Malvern in 1955 and joined the recently formed Transistor Physics Division under Dr A F Gibson (later Prof Alan Gibson FRS). For the next 13 years he was an integral part of the great push forward on semiconductors with the invention of devices and the understanding of the relevant physics; his own contribution was on the electrical, optical and acoustical properties of Ge, Si and II - VI semiconductors.

Towards the end of this period Ted, together with Dennis Maines, realised that Rayleigh waves propagated on the surface of a semiconductor might have considerable device potential. In 1968 they successfully applied for MoD funding which resulted in Ted being appointed leader of a 15-strong team which he built into a world-leading group to research and develop SAW devices and applications. It says much of Ted's leadership abilities that under his guidance the Malvern SAW Group became so successful and acquired such a high international reputation. I first came across Ted when I moved to Malvern in 1971, and it was always very clear to me that he was not simply a manager, he was intimately involved with and contributed to most of the scientific activities within his group. There were many inventions, patents and publications, and in 1973 MoD presented their Wolfe Award to the SAW team for their pioneering work. Ted oversaw the design and development of SAW pulse compression filters which were used to improve the performance of radar systems fitted into the Nimrod fleet of aircraft used by the RAF for reconnaissance. His work on these filters resulted in a Queen's Award for Technological Achievement to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (as RRE had become) in 1989. There were many other device successes, but rather than give a comprehensive list I will list the ones that Ted himself highlighted. Working with Dennis Maines and later with Meirion Lewis, he invented and developed a SAW oscillator. With Graham Marshall he invented the SAW multistrip coupler and developed a subsequent wide range of components based on the structure. It became one of the most important SAW components and for many years, all colour TVs had an IF filter containing a SAW multistrip coupler. His other inventions included an electronically controlled variable chirp filter, a novel directional coupler based on comb transmission lines and a travelling wave transducer.

Throughout his time at Malvern, Ted did his fair share of 'scientific administrative duties'. He helped with policy and monitoring of MoD extramural research, he led the SAW Liaison Group and had overall responsibility for the MoD extra-mural research programme on SAW. He organised international conferences and sat on Research Council committees.

In 1977 Ted became Professor of Engineering Science, a title he was instrumental in changing to Professor of Electrical Engineering, and a Fellow of St John's College, making as he himself said, 'the simultaneous changes from physicist to engineer, from research to teaching and from a government establishment to a collegiate university'. He rose to the challenge and using his long experience in pure and applied physics and industry he started to revitalise the Electrical Engineering teaching and research laboratories. Under his influence the University appointed its first visiting Professor (Professor Sir Gareth Roberts FRS, then of Thorn-EMI and now President of Wolfson College) and two new Chairs in Information and Optoelectronic Engineering were established. He also played a leading role in the bids for the new joint Honours Schools on Engineering and Computing Science and in Electrical and Structural Materials Engineering. In 1984 he was acting Head of Department for four months.

Ted enjoyed his new role as a teacher of undergraduate and postgraduate students and relished the opportunity to pass onto them his love of engineering. For several years he continued his research interests in SAW devices, and during this period he devised a new type of spectrum analyser for microwave frequencies as well as a new type of convolver. By the 1980s he realised that the research community was increasingly focused on meeting exacting specifications with known devices and he decided to look into other research areas. He took the opportunity of a sabbatical year at Stanford to update his knowledge of optics and to consider some possible research topics in optoelectronics. Upon his return to Oxford he focussed on programmable spatial light modulators and opened up a rich vein of research using ferroelectric liquid crystal devices as phase-only spatial light modulators, developing techniques for sub-micron lithography, optical pattern recognition and 3D imaging. This latter work particularly pleased Ted as it arose from a chance lunchtime conversation in St Johns with a colleague from Experimental Psychology, nicely illustrating to him one of the advantages of a collegiate university.

His last area of scientific work, started after his retirement in 1997, was unknown to most of his engineering colleagues until recently. Just before retirement Ted had been diagnosed with haemochromatosis, a genetic disorder causing the body to absorb an excessive amount of iron from the diet. He joined the Haemochromatosis Society, became a director and spent much of his retirement helping the Society by applying his scientific skills to help analyse data and write reports on the geographical distribution and the extent of under-diagnosis in the UK.

Ted's achievements in science were recognised by many personal awards. In 1978 he was awarded the Rayleigh Medal of the Institute of Acoustics and the Duddel Medal of the Institute of Physics. In 1979 he was awarded (with others) what is regarded by many as Europe's most eminent physics prize, the Hewlett Packard Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter Physics awarded by the European Physical Society for: 'The Physical Principles of Surface Acoustic Wave Devices'. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. In 1983 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Ted was by nature a quiet, even private, man. However, this mild exterior hid an inner firmness, and when he was roused by some perceived injustice, he would see off the opposition with an impeccable logic few could match and an honesty and politeness that gained great respect. It was noticeable that at his funeral and memorial service, a large number of colleagues from his distant Malvern days were present and many had travelled large distances, some for a second time having already visited him in his final days. Ted was very modest about his achievements. Many at his funeral and memorial service from outside science were heard to comment that they had not known of his illustrious scientific career. He was happily married to Helen, whom he had known from schooldays, and together they had a family of two sons and two daughters. Ted Paige died on 20 February 2004, aged 73.

Professor David Allan Spence

A memoir by David Kenning

David Spence died on 7 September 2003 after a long and courageous fight against Parkinson's disease, throughout which he had the equally courageous and selfless support of his wife Isobel.

David was an early member of the group of Antipodean academics who have contributed greatly to the development of the Department of Engineering Science. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, he read Mathematics at the University of Auckland. In 1948, he moved to Cambridge to undertake graduate studies leading to an Engineering doctorate on aerofoil boundary layers in 1952. This set the pattern for his working life as an outstanding applied mathematician, interested in problems generated by the physics of fluids and solids. He joined the Aerodynamics Department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, where he expanded on his studies of aerofoil flows and by 1963 achieved the distinction of promotion to Senior Principal Scientific Officer (Individual Merit). In 1964 he was head-hunted by Professor Douglas Holder to join the rapidly-growing Department of Engineering Science at Oxford as a University Lecturer and the first Tutorial Fellow in Engineering at Lincoln College. It was then that I first met David and I owe him a debt of gratitude for piloting me from a Demonstratorship without a college home towards the second Fellowship at Lincoln, where we worked happily together for 15 years. David was a kindly man, who delighted in his family, enjoying the company of small children (and later grandchildren) and large dogs. This made him well-suited to dealing with students. In the early years, we refined our double act for entrance interviews. David struggled between his natural tendency to give a candidate the benefit of the doubt and his mathematician's recognition of evidence that the candidate was not quite up to it. In those days, the admissions process was enlivened, for tutors, not only by the candidates' attempts at writing essays for the General Paper but also by the contest between tutors sparked by the College Scholarship scheme, which spread the talent around between colleges in a way that is now done by computer. Colleges' armaments in this war were limited by treaty and their use governed by precise but complicated rules, covering Open and Closed awards applicable to Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, as well as Engineering. David and I would first meet to plan our strategy, before groups of science tutors from eight colleges gathered in what was then the 6th floor drawing office in Thom Building. David's analytical skills and respect for the minutiae of rule-books, derived from his Civil Service experience, equipped him well for the multi-handed poker game that followed. The consequence of this process, as with subsequent schemes, was that tutors had a personal investment in every successful candidate that lasted through and beyond their undergraduate careers so they became an extended family, with the usual occasional differences of opinion. David was a keen participant in orienteering and he recalled with amusement one Saturday meeting at which he was overtaken with a cheery greeting by a pupil who was supposed to be preparing for a penal collection on the Monday. David took delight in the successes of former pupils and sympathised with them in adversity. A few months before his death, by an effort of will, he attended a gathering of many of our former pupils, organised by his Lincoln successor, David Hills, and enjoyed meeting pupils he remembered clearly after nearly 40 years.

In the Engineering Department, David pressed strongly the view that Mathematics was the unifying thread for a broad Engineering Science course, and his influence can still be seen in the course. His own research interests expanded from fluid mechanics to solid mechanics and, in a fruitful interaction with an old friend Donald Turcotte at Cornell University, geophysics problems of plate tectonics, earthquakes and oilfields. The common theme was the solution of boundary-value problems by a variety of analytical techniques. David enjoyed making his expertise available to those with lesser mathematical ability but who could pose interesting problems. I had the pleasure of co-authoring just one paper with him, on heat transfer at the triple contact line between a hot plate, a liquid and its vapour. His elegant treatment of a singularity that was not obvious to me from physical arguments has left me with a healthy distrust of numerical simulations with coarse grids. David was an enthusiastic participant in the brain-storming meetings with industrialists organised in the Mathematical Institute and developed by Alan Tayler into OCIAM, the Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. David's distinction as a mathematician was recognised by the award of an Oxford DSc in 1967 and election to a personal Readership in Theoretical Mechanics in 1977. His research students went on to distinguished mathematical careers in their own rights. As his research activities became more centred on the Mathematical Institute, so did his teaching and his fellowship at Lincoln was redesignated as a Tutorial Fellowship in Applied Mathematics. In 1981, Imperial College made him an offer he could not refuse and he accepted a chair in Mathematics that he held until his retirement at age 65 in 1991, while he and Isobel continued to live in the family house in Headington. Even before his retirement, the first signs appeared of the cruel roller-coaster of physical constraints associated with Parkinson's. Lincoln elected him to a Senior Research Fellowship and OCIAM provided him with a base, so that he could remain active in research after his official retirement, without making frequent trips to London. He enjoyed the social occasions in college, although they became more restricted to 'good' days as the disease progressed. He fought it with great determination. It was perhaps the periodic physical restriction on communication that most hurt this quiet, gifted man who so enjoyed interacting with others.

Stuart Wilson

David Witt

Stuart Wilson retired 20 years ago, but he will be well remembered by the older generations of alumni, particularly those from the decades following the Second World War. Stuart was one of that stalwart band that carried the Engineering Department through the years when it was much smaller than it has since become, and much less valued in the University than it is now.

Stuart Swinford Wilson was born on 11 August 1923, the son of an electrical engineer, and educated at William Hulme's Grammar School in Manchester. He won a scholarship to Brasenose, and read Engineering Science there from 1941 to 1944, leaving with a First. He then spent about sixteen months working at the Admiralty Experimental Works, Haslar, Gosport, mainly on means for sweeping up a new type of naval mine then being laid by the Germans.

But in 1946 he returned to Oxford to teach in the Department, and except for vacation periods in industry and a sabbatical in Australia, remained here until his retirement in 1984. His interests were wide, within the broad field of mechanical engineering, and with a strong practical bias. He was a sailing enthusiast, and designed for the University Yacht Club one of the first fibre-glass sailing dinghies, the 12 ft Alpha, when the wooden Fireflies which the Club had been using were showing structural distress under punishing use by undergraduates at Port Meadow. The Alpha, which was built locally by Bossoms, had some of the faults which might be expected in a pioneering design, but it was a trend-setter, and fibre-glass is now the norm in this application.

In the 1950s the University debated whether its tiny Department of Engineering Science should be abolished or enlarged. It plumped for enlargement, and the result was the Thom Building, completed in 1962/3. Stuart was responsible for the planning of the Heat Engines and Fluid Mechanics laboratories. He also took a lead in the "revolt" by the academic staff when the architect proposed to put some rather pathetic (as was thought) murals on the exterior walls of Lecture Rooms 1 and 2. The University authorities at first backed the architect, but the revolt was ultimately successful, and the murals gave way to the charcoal-coloured bricks that are there today. A few years later Stuart was influential in the founding of the joint school of Engineering and Economics. This was a forerunner of the triple school of Engineering, Economics and Management which we have today.

His undergraduate lectures were usually on thermodynamic cycles or heat engines, and had a practical flavour. This field inspired many of his research activities, e.g. small "Rankine-cycle power packs" using high-molecular-weight fluids such as monochlor-benzene, water-injected diesels, combined-cycle power plants and combined-heat-and-power (these last two well before their present vogue). Younger academics in this field have expressed appreciation of his practical engineering advice. He was also very active over many years in the field of "appropriate technology", believing that there were many ways in which good engineering design could significantly improve the quality of life at quite modest cost. He was a particular advocate of the proper use of pedal power in under-developed countries. His improved version of the pedalled rickshaw was frequently seen on the streets of Oxford in the 70s and early 80s. It was unfortunate that it never got into significant production.

He tutored undergraduates from Brasenose (and many other colleges) in the days when a tutor was generally expected to be able to teach two-thirds or more, sometimes all, of the syllabus. Brasenose never elected him to a tutorial fellowship, but he became one of the Founding Fellows of St. Cross, when that and another college (now Wolfson) were founded in the early 60s to tackle the problem of the numerous tenured academics who were not fellows of any college.

He and Elsie, whom he married in 1953, and with whom he spent a very happy 50 years, spent their retirement mainly in Somerset and Dorset, but he was a regular visitor back to Oxford, and a strong supporter of the SOUE. In his last years he had written the typescript of a book, "Small Expectations - a wide-ranging survey of the value of human scale". It reflects a dissatisfaction, which many of us might share, with numerous aspects of modern life arising from urbanisation and centralisation, and from, as he puts it "the separation of the thinking from the doing". It perhaps loses some force by taking on too many targets at once.

Stuart died on 6 October 2003, aged 80. He leaves his widow, Elsie, and a son and two daughters.

The Oxtrike
Stuart Wilson pedalling the Oxtrike in 1977

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