National Academy of Engineering Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10
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Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10

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             EUGENE G.FUBINI                                           83
                             EUGENE G.FUBINI
                                   BY BOB O.EVANS
                IN MY FIFTY-ONE YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL LIFE, from the vantage
            point of being an IBM general management executive, a venture capitalist, an
            executive in a high technology consulting firm, president of a Taiwan
            semiconductor company, president of an advanced electronics company and
            chairman of a leading software technology company, I have met some of the
            world’s greatest scientists, engineers, government and corporate executives,
            heads of state, educators and working people. Of all those met in my lengthy
            business life, the most remarkable is Dr. Eugene Fubini.
                This brilliant and amazing man, perhaps five feet tall in his shoes, was a
            bundle of vibrant energy with infinite curiosity, compassion, warmth, and
            knowledge far beyond his training as a physicist. He had an abiding love for his
            adopted country and made significant contributions to hundreds of projects from
            his early days as a young engineer at Columbia Broadcasting System. He began
            to hit his stride as a research associate during World Was II at the famed Harvard
            Radio Research Laboratory, where he led advances in electronic countermeasures
            and reconnaissance equipment.
                After the war, Dr. Fubini spent sixteen productive years at the Airborne
            Instruments Laboratory Company, where he continued to innovate in the field of
            reconnaissance electronics. He
             EUGENE G.FUBINI                                           84
             produced numerous patents in electromagnetics and microwave applications.
                In March 1961 his opportunity for contributions enlarged significantly as he
             joined the Department of Defense (DOD) as director of research in the Office of
             Director, Defense Research and Engineering. He had great influence on DOD
             research and engineering, and his reputation rapidly became international. In two
             short years he was promoted to assistant secretary of defense for research and
             engineering and was a key part of a famed team of DOD executives.
                In 1965 I became president of IBM’s Federal Systems Division and longed
            to have access to such an important leader. However, Dr. Fubini tended to DOD
            business and tried to avoid sales calls by all-too-anxious defense contractors. In
            1966 Dr. Fubini joined IBM as a vice-president responsible for research and
            other advanced development operations. Because the Federal Systems Division’s
            activities were close to Dr. Fubini’s heart, I had the great fortune of becoming a
            close and admiring friend. Because of his reputation for brilliance, Dr. Fubini was
            in great demand by the aerospace community and, occasionally, agreed to review a
            project. I recall vividly one instance where a major corporation had invested two
            years of effort on an advanced system and they anxiously wanted Fubini’s
            overview. Dr. Fubini agreed to review the project and invited me to observe.
            After the company’s well-prepared presentation, Dr. Fubini not only showed them
            why their concept was fatally flawed, but he did it in such a way that they
            accepted his critique and the project was terminated, probably saving the
            company millions of dollars and, possibly the federal government hundreds of
            millions of dollars!
                Many a night have I spent at the Fubini’s home or he at mine. The
            invigorating discussions still influence me. I watched as his adoring wife, Betty,
            brought tea and cookies to our late-night discussions. I have watched him tell
            each of his six loving children good night and seen the warmth in his eyes for all
            of his family.
                Sadly for IBM, Dr. Fubini left after two years and returned to his first love,
            the business of the DOD. He became a consultant
             EUGENE G.FUBINI                                           85
             and was in high demand. From my direct knowledge, Dr. Fubini contributed
             again and again in guiding not only companies but also the DOD in his role as
             chairman of the Defense Science Board.
                Gene Fubini was remarkable as he positively influenced all the people who
             were in contact with him and steered technologies to high purpose. His brilliance
             wisely guided the Defense Department as well as many aerospace companies.
             The world lost a great professional when Gene Fubini passed away—yet his
             legacy continues.
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