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Jerome Bert Wiesner

WIESNER, JEROME BERT (1915–1994), U.S. electrical engineer and educator; president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Wiesner, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, was associate director of the broadcasting station at the University of Michigan from 1937 to 1940 and assisted in developing modern electronic techniques for use in the speech department. In 1940 Wiesner was appointed chief engineer of the Acoustical and Record Laboratory in the Library of Congress. During World War II, he was consecutively: associate leader of the radio frequency development group at MIT's radiation laboratory; project engineer of a key radar development program; group leader of Project Cadillac which was assigned to devise an airborne radar system; and a member of the Los Alamos Laboratory staff (1945). Wiesner returned to MIT as assistant professor (1946), and subsequently held several other university posts before being appointed provost in 1966. In 1971 he was named its president – the first Jew to be appointed to that position, which he held until 1980. He was a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1957), served as staff director of the American Delegation to the Geneva Conference for the Prevention of Surprise Attack (1958), and in 1961 was appointed special assistant for science and technology by President Kennedy. From 1962 to 1964 he was director of the Office of Science and Technology. Wiesner played an important role in the development of the concept of scatter transmission and in the application of statistical methods to communications engineering. He was a member of the board of governors of the Weizmann Institute from 1964, and advised on education and science policy in Israel. He wrote Where Science and Politics Meet (1964).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.