Arthur G. B. Metcalf '32
Arthur G. B. Metcalf '32, an aeronautical engineer and the founder of Electronics Corporation of America, passed away on March 16 as a result of heart failure. He was 88.
Metcalf earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering at MIT and went on to teach courses at MIT, Boston University, and Harvard University.
While at MIT, Metcalf developed a new type of airplane that would allow people to learn how to fly in only one afternoon.
After MIT Metcalf studied at Boston University and then went on to Harvard, where he received a master's degree. He went on to join the faculty at Boston University and in 1934 founded the BU's department of aeronautical engineering, which later became the foundation for BU's College of Engineering.
In 1937, Metcalf left BU to found the Electronics Corporation of America, which pioneered the application of electronic technology to industrial controls. In 1986, the company was acquired by Rockwell International Corp. for $100 million.
In 1954, Metcalf rejoined BU when he was elected to the university's board of trustees. In 1976, he was named chairman and served until 1994.
Metcalf's name lives on at Boston University in several ways. He donated millions of dollars for the construction of the Arthur G. B. Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering. There are also several prizes named in Metcalf's honor.
However, Metcalf's time at Boston University was not without controversy. He was a strong defender of controversial BU president John R. Silber, who has had frequent clashes with faculty and students.
"It seemed there was very little he did not understand," Silber said in The New York Times. "He was a man who really enjoyed life."
Metcalf was well respected in the field of aeronautical engineering. He was an adviser to the U.S. Army Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Corps, and also served as an associate fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society of Britain.
Metcalf also founded the U.S. Strategic Institute in 1972, which served to encourage debate of issues affecting national security.
Metcalf is survived by four daughters, Anne M. Reiss, Mary Lee M. Syberts, Hope M. Riccardi, and Helen Curtis Metcalf; a half-brother, Herbert B. Jacobs; and two grandchildren.