Memorial Tributes: Volume 27
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  • CHARLES L. WAGNER (1925-2014)



    CHARLES LEONARD WAGNER, a pioneering electrical engineer and visionary leader in system design, planning, and equipment application in the area of electric utility engineering, died at the age of 88 on August 5, 2014. He made outstanding contributions in the field of extra-high-voltage transmission, protective relaying, and power circuit breaker application.

    Chuck was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 23, 1925, to Charles F. and Ada (Hanna) Wagner. He obtained his BSEE degree from Bucknell University in 1945 and his MSEE degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1949. He was a veteran of World War II, serving with the US Navy. In 1946 Chuck joined the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, where he spent his entire career.

    During his 39-year career at Westinghouse, he held various positions. In 1946, in collaboration with the Engineering Laboratories, he aided the development of ANACO, also known as the transient network analyzer, the first large-scale analog computer, which revolutionized the analysis of electrical transients in power systems. In 1950 he became part of the Electric Utility Engineering Department as a sponsor engineer and assisted electric utility and industrial customers in equipment application, system planning, and design. In 1960, with the advent of commercial digital computers, he led a task force that developed the digital protective device coordination software package, one of the first digital computer tools that coordinated the setting and checking of relays, fuses, reclosers, and other protective devices on a system-wide basis.

    Charles was appointed the project manager for the Virginia Electric and Power Company 500-kV transmission project in 1962 and was responsible for the overall direction of the Westinghouse participation in engineering, construction, and verification testing for the project. He was then appointed as the manager of transmission systems engineering in 1967. In that position he directed new developments in application engineering and was responsible for the long-range technical guidance for the Westinghouse Transmission Products Division. In 1976 he was named a consulting engineer and retired in 1985. He continued doing private consulting on power system design and operation after his retirement.

    In the technical community, he was an active participant in the Power Engineering Society (PES) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and in the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE). He served as the president of PES from 1984–85 and was chair of the PES Technical Operation Department, the PES Switchgear Committee, and the PES Power System Relaying Committee. He also chaired the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C37 Power Switch Gear Committee and was responsible for the development of several standards.

    Mr. Wagner pioneered important developments that advanced power system relaying, circuit breaker applications, high-voltage transmission line design, and power system operation. His work directly contributed to the enhanced reliability of the electricity supply.

    He was well recognized for his contributions. He was an IEEE life fellow and winner of the IEEE’s C.P. Steinmetz Award (1985) for “major contributions to the development of standards for switchgear and high-voltage circuit breakers,” the IEEE Herman Halperin Electric Transmission and Distribution Award (1999) for “contributions to the design, analysis and application of electric power transmission and distribution systems,” the IEEE Standards Medallion, the IEEE Centennial Medal (1984), the IEEE Third Millenium Award, and the CIGRE Attwood Associate Award. He also received two IEEE PES Prize Paper awards. Charles also wrote one of the first textbooks on the topic of symmetrical components, an important tool in analyzing unbalanced three-phase power systems.

    To his family Charles was a source of stability, inspiration, and generosity. Charles’ wife Rachel passed away at the age of 54 and, in his children’s words, “Charles’ most important goal over the 35 years since his wife’s demise was to keep the entire family close. He did a great job and made sure the holidays were spent together and no birthday or anniversary was missed.” Charles’ other interests included golf, woodworking, and reading. He is survived by two sons and a daughter, Chick (Cindy) Wagner, Ginger (Ted) Brant, and Rob (Mary Ellyn) Wagner, and eight grandchildren.