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Milestone-Proposal:Research and education in electronics and communications at Cruft Laboratory, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science, 1915 to 1947

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Revision as of 20:44, 25 March 2013

Docket #:2013-07

This proposal has been submitted for review.

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1917 to 1940s

Title of the proposed milestone:

Cruft High Tension Laboratory, 1917

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

ROUGH DRAFT Cruft Laboratory was designed in 1915 to support research on radio antennas and storage batteries. During WW1, a nation wide radio training school for military personnel was established there. Special courses and text books in communications engineering were created for naval officers. During WW2, Cruft was dedicated to radar training for the military. Cruft and adjacent laboratories were much more than a place of learning by facilitating the work of GW Pierce, El Chaffee and other researchers, who contributed greatly to radio communications.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?


IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

Unit: Boston Milestones Committee
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Boston Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

IEEE Section: Boston Milestones Committee
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Pierce/Cruft bridge Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, located at 19A Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

GPS coordinate later

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

Pierce/Cruft bridge Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, located at 19A Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138. This spot is where the union of physics and engineering took place.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

Will be mounted inside the building.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

Space is opened to students and the general public.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:

File:IEEE.MilestoneAwards. 1.15.2013.Cruft.pdf

A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

Cruft is the location of the first US government research grant given to an institution of higher learning. Harvard also gave radio or wireless, a big boost in prestige by elevating the technology from that of the hobbyist to that of an ivy league school of research and science.

Cruft took radio/communications seriously by formally teaching communications, transforming radio away from the self taught radio "ham" and writing books about it. There were many books on the subject , but, I believe, no schools ever published their curriculum.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

No comment.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Cruft is believed to have been the first radio lab attached to a college or university (to be verefied) - just look at the postcard showing Cruft with hugh radio antennas sticking up.

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

1. Various books available from 1915 onward with titles: Contributions from Jefferson Physical Laboratory and from the Cruft High-Tension Electrical Laboratory at Harvard University for the Year 1915. ditto for the years 1926 and 1927. 2. A text book created by the Electronics Training Staff of Cruft, "Electronic Circuits and Tubes" 1947 McGraw Hill.

3. "Naval School for Radio Electricians Established" Boston Globe June 17, 1917

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Harvard Buildings