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History

 

ESL began as the Antenna Laboratory in 1941 when Prof. W. L. Everitt invented a new model measurement technique for aircraft antennas. When Prof. Everitt accepted a war-time assignment in Washington, responsibility for the project was assumed by George Sinclair, a graduate student who supervised up to 50 employees until his departure in 1946. In 1948, Prof. Vic Rumsey became the Lab Supervisor; under Rumsey and subsequent Directors, the research activities of the Laboratory were diversified to include almost any activity related to electromagnetics. The name ElectroScience Laboratory (ESL) was adopted under director Prof. Curt Levis in 1967 to reflect this broader scope.

In the 1960s to 1970s, numerical techniques were increasing in importance and were intensely researched at ESL. The Geometrical Theory of Diffraction was also a priority topic, and was enhanced at ESL to achieve the Uniform Theory of Diffraction. ESL was at the forefront of the first applications of numerical and high frequency methods for electromagnetics, and continues to lead research into new and efficient techniques.

Although studies of scattering for radar applications began in the early days of the Lab, ESL improvements in computational methods allowed revolutionary advances in topics such as stealth design and RCS modeling of aircraft. These studies propelled ESL to the forefront of RF and antenna measurement technologies in order to verify the performance of ESL predictions. Increased RF and radar system design projects resulted, including projects related to ground penetrating radar in the 1980s. The ESL compact range facility remains one of the finest in the world for antenna measurements, and numerous current projects continue the tradition of designing new RF system and measurement technologies.

Other early topics that have seeded present projects include:
  • radome research (including frequency selective surface and broad band array studies)
  • optical applications
  • satellite communications
  • remote sensing studies

ESL's tradition of excellence is still going strong, and current staff and students will no doubt make impressive contributions to future documentations of ESL history.

View a more detailed history of the laboratory written by Prof. Leon Peters Jr. and a slide show of our historical events (Adobe Reader is required).

Timeline

1941
Antenna Laboratory is founded by W. L. Everitt. Later, his graduate student, George Sinclair, becomes the lab supervisor, and the lab grows to 50 employees. The research was performed in and on the roof of the Communications Laboratory on the 19th street.
1946
Experimental program is moved to two Quonset huts, located on the edge of ROTC drill field on Tuttle Park Road.
1947
First commercial spin-off company formed under supervisor Robert Jacques. 
1948
Professor Victor Rumsey becomes laboratory supervisor. Graduate students from this period become future leaders of ESL. 

1950

The Laboratory moves to the fourth floor and part of the third floor of the Caldwell Laboratory Building but most of the experimental activities continues at the Quonset huts.

1955
Experimental facilities moved to present location on Kinnear Road. 
1964
Addition to laboratory completed, doubling square footage. 
1967
Antenna Laboratory renamed ElectroScience Laboratory to reflect broad research programs. 
1977
ESL secured a joint service electromagnetics project (JSEP) under Director C.H. (Buck) Walter. This project (ended 1998) stands as the largest project in ESL history. 
1983
Prof. Leon Peters becomes ESL director. Growth at the lab continues supported by major contracts from NASA and the Compact Range Consortium. 
1994
Prof. Walter Burnside becomes ESL director. Significant growth takes place in industrial research causing it to reach nearly 50% of total funding. 
2003
Prof. John Volakis becomes director. ESL hosts its second IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium. Multidisciplinary Research Initiative (MURI) on Novel Materials for Antennas awarded. 
2005
ESL building remodeled. College approves new ESL building financial plan. 
2009
Construction begins with groundbreaking event on a new 40,580-square-foot facility that showcases the laboratory's unique talents, history and demonstrated ability to carry out cutting-edge research. See related story from Business First.
2011
New Wireless Communication/Radio Frequency Research Building, known as ElectroScience Lab Complex, opens with ribbon-cutting event.