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Esteemed electrical engineering researcher and faculty member Tom Lipo passes away

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FAMU-FSU Engineering

In Memory of Thomas A. Lipo, (1938-2020)

Dr. Thomas A. Lipo, an esteemed research professor at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering has passed away on Friday, May 8, 2020, at his home in Middleton, Wisconsin. He was a pioneer in the field of electrical machines, power electronics, and machine drives and his prolific 50-year career spanned nearly the complete history of modern solid-state adjustable-speed motor drives to date.

Tom Lipo, Ph.D.
Dr. Tom Lipo

Lipo worked at the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) at the university for several years before becoming a full-time research faculty member in 2015. He was a renowned academic in the technical field of solid-state AC motor drives and holds over 65 domestic and foreign patents. He was inducted in the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame in 2019.

“Tom was one of the most respected and well-known members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,” Roger McGinnis, the Director of CAPS said.” He was amazingly kind and humble, we were blessed with his tremendous knowledge in electrical engineering, especially in motor design.”

As a pioneer in the field of electrical machinery and power electronics, Lipo improved the technology that runs subway cars as well as paved the way for hybrid and electric vehicles. He was known worldwide as an industry authority on the design and analysis of electric machines and power electronic drives that have helped move power technology from concept to practical application. 

Early in his career, he was an electrical engineer for General Electric Company, where he participated in some of the original work in his field. Later, Lipo began his tenure in academia as a professor at Purdue University and joined the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he co-founded the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC). WEMPEC has become a renowned international collaborative effort in the research and development of new power electronics technologies. 

Lipo was an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Life Fellow and in 2014, received the Medal in Power Engineering award from the organization. This is the highest award presented from IEEE, in the field of power engineering. He was also a National Academy of Inventors Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and UK Royal Academy of Engineering. Lipo was named Emeritus Professor of the University of Wisconsin where he taught for 35 years and then became a research professor at CAPS, of Florida State University. 

Sastry Pamidi had kind words to say about his friend and colleague, Dr. Thomas Lipo. Pamidi is the Associate Director of CAPS and the Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. 

“I am fortunate for the opportunity to work alongside Tom, “Pamidi said. “He was a consummate professor, researcher, and gentleman who never stopped working with students and thinking about new ways to solve problems. Like everyone else who knew him, I will miss him and forever remember him.” 

While his contributions to his industry and the university were considerable, Dr. Thomas Lipo was also dedicated to the mentoring of countless students over the years. In his spare moments, he was passionate about folk music, fine food, world travel, and fishing with friends and family. 

He leaves a legacy and will be remembered for both his kindness and contributions to the world and will be greatly missed by all.