Author
Maribeth Keitz Memorial Tributes Volume 3 National Academy of Engineering
Membership Directory
PublisherNational Academies Press
ReleasedAugust 1, 1989
Copyright1989
Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 3

This is the third volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.

This is the third volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.

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  • THEODORE J. NAGEL 1913-1986

    BY JOHN E. DOLAN

    Theodore J. Nagel, an internationally recognized authority on the planning, operation, and reliability of electric power systems, died January 14, 1986, in Tucson, Arizona, after an extended illness. He was seventy-two.

    At the time of his retirement in 1982, Nagel had spent forty-three years with the American Electric Power (AEP) Service Corporation, rising through the company's ranks from assistant engineer to senior executive vice-president and assistant to the chairman. He played a large role in making the seven-state American Electric Power System what it is today—a major force and leader in this nation's electric utility industry.

    In his forty-three years with AEP as an engineer, system planner, and executive, seventeen were spent as the engineering executive responsible for the development of future planning programs. Today, that system, with its 22.8 million kilowatts of generating capacity and more than 21,700 miles of high- voltage transmission lines, is his legacy.

    Ted was born on December 20, 1913, in Andes, New York. He received his B.A. in 1936, his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1937, and his M.S. in electrical engineering in 1938, all from Columbia University.

    He was first employed by the AEP Service Corporation in 1939 as an assistant engineer. After four years of service with the U.S. Navy during World War II, he returned as a senior engineer in 1946. He was promoted to head of the System Planning and Engineering Section of the former System Planning and Operation Department in 1954, rising to head of the newly formed System Planning and Analytical Division in 1959 and to deputy chief engineer and chief planning engineer in 1966. He was named vice-president of system planning in 1967, senior vice-president of system planning in 1973, executive vice-president of system planning in 1974, and senior executive vice- president and assistant to the chairman in 1976. He was also a director of the AEP Service Corporation and of two AEP System operating companies—Appalachian Power Company and Wheeling Electric Company.

    Nagel joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 as an ensign, served mainly in the European theater, and was discharged as a lieutenant commander in 1946. During his service in Europe, he met and later married his wife, Dee. They became the parents of a son, Philip, and a daughter, Pamela.

    Together with Nagel's impressive work history, his service on various industry and government technical and advisory committees established his credentials as an expert on power supply planning and reliability. When the Great Blackout of 1965 struck the Northeast, Nagel was not in his New York office but at an AEP System management meeting in Roanoke, Virginia, approximately four hundred miles away. The blackout disrupted electrical service to thirty million customers over an eighty-thousand-square-mile area.

    Nagel was summoned to Washington by Joseph P. Swidler, chairman of the Federal Power Commission. His initial assignment was to assist in the commission's inquiry into the blackout, which was to be conducted by its Advisory Committee on Reliability of Electric Bulk Power Supply, and eventually to prepare its report to the president. The product of his research while a member of this committee was released as Volume 2 of Prevention of Power Failures. The document ultimately led to the industry's reliability coordination effort in both the United States and Canada. Later, when a similar but less severe failure hit the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland area, Nagel was called upon again—and again he responded effectively.

    Owing to his solid reputation in advisory committee work, Nagel was invited to participate in all three of the National Power Surveys conducted by the Federal Power Commission. During the first, he served as a member of the Transmission and Interconnection Special Technical Committee; for the second, he was a member of the East Central Regional Advisory Committee; in the third, he participated as a member of the Energy Distribution Research Task Force.

    Nagel was also instrumental in the formation of the East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement Group (ECAR), the first of nine such regional groups to be organized across the country. He served as chairman of its Coordinating Review Committee from 1970 to 1976. In addition, he was chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) for two years. The council's membership is composed of all nine regional groups. Nagel was also the NERC Engineering Committee's representative on foreign activities.

    In addition, he was a member of the Conférence Internationale des Grands Réseaux Electriques à Haute Tension, the international organization devoted to the planning, development, and operation of large high-voltage electric systems. In 1982 he was named international chairman of its System Planning and Development Committee.

    Nagel was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1973 and served on its Committee on Power Plant Siting. A longtime member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), he was elected a life fellow of that body in 1979. IEEE's Power Engineering Society honored Nagel and his former AEP colleague Howard C. Barnes by presenting them with its William M. Habirshaw Award in 1979. This award, which is given annually in recognition of ''outstanding contributions to the field of electrical transmission and distribution,'' was presented to Nagel because of his work in the planning—and Barnes' work in the engineering—of the nation's first 765,000-volt transmission system.

    The network was conceived in the 1960s during research work conducted by AEP at its extra-high-voltage transmission laboratory in Apple Grove, West Virginia. Construction of the first sixty-six-mile section of this 765,000-volt system was begun in 1967, and service began in 1969. The final ninety-six-mile link in the network was not placed in operation, however, until September 1986. This addition increased the system's total length to 2,022 circuit miles.

    Nagel was a member of three professional honorary fraternities: Tau Beta Pi (engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering), and Sigma Xi (science research). He was the author or coauthor of more than twenty professional papers. A final honor was bestowed on Nagel at the time of his retirement: the AEP System named its newest extra-high-voltage transmission station for him—the Nagel Station near Kingsport, Tennessee.

    Ted Nagel was a man of substance, character, and intellect. He was a devoted husband, a good father, and, in his work, a dedicated engineer. Perhaps the most appropriate tribute to this quiet, soft-spoken man are the words on the bronze plaque that stands in the Nagel Station yard in the hills of northeastern Tennessee: "Theodore J. Nagel, distinguished engineer and planner who devoted 43 years to the American Electric Power System."

    Ted, you planned it all very well.

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