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Philip L. Alger

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Biography

Philip Langdon Alger was born on January 27, 1894. He was was educated at St. John’s College of Annapolis, MD and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a MS in electrical engineering from Union College in 1920. He spent his entire career in the employ of the General Electric Company until his retirement in 1959, when he became Consulting Professor of Electrical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Alger wrote three books, Mathematics for Science and Engineering, Induction Machines, and The Human Side of Engineering, and he edited The Life and Times of Gabriel Kron.

Philip Alger was most known for his work on induction motors and synchronous motors capable of direct, across-the-line starting, greatly simplifying motor controls. His 1928 AIEE paper, "The Calculation of Armature Reactance of Synchronous Machines," was long a classic in the annals of rotating electric machinery. Alger preciently imagined that for the expansion of electrification in industry, motors must be made smaller and lighter in weight. This task required a reexamination of many traditions in motor design engineering. He arduously promoted better engineering of motors and helped spur the adoption of new NEMA standards for motors in the 1940s. Motors built to those standards weighed less than a third as much as their predecessors and were quieter and more reliable.

Alger was a leader in professional engineering societies, in industry-wide standardization in education, and in local government, as well as in technology. He was also keenly interested in professional and ethical standards for engineers.

Alger was a fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE) and in 1959 he received the prestigious Lamme Medal of the association.

Philip Alger died in Schenectady in September, 1979.