A Tribute to Myron Crawford

The news that Myron (Mike) Crawford had lost his battle with cancer was received with sadness by all of us at NIST. Many of us at the Boulder laboratories regarded Mike not only as a colleague but also as a friend. And for a few of us fortunate enough to have worked with Mike early in our careers, he was a mentor and an inspiration. Bill Riddle expresses that sentiment with this observation, “As I think back on the years that I worked with Mike here at NIST, I am reminded most of his infectious enthusiasm and unfailing honesty that he brought to our work. As an engineer, Mike had an uncanny knack for seeing the solution to problems based on his intuition alone, and I learned from him the valuable lesson that it often takes a combination of instinct and technical know-how to get the job done. He was a good friend, a great engineer, and above all, a wonderful human being.”

Mike Crawford was well known and respected for his work with the TEM cell, so much so in fact that it was often referred to as the “Crawford Cell”.

Mike’s career at NIST (NBS for the old-timers) spanned more than three decades beginning in 1960. After a few years working with early near-field-antenna metrology, Mike turned his talents to the challenging world of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). During those years he made many significant contributions to the science and the art of EMC. Mike is well known as the person responsible for developing the TEM cell as a useful device for EMC measurements. You may have heard the TEM cell referred to as a “Crawford Cell”, a label that seemed to make Mike a bit uncomfortable, but was well deserved. Mike contributed to measurements of cable and material shielding properties, radiated immunity and emissions; in other words, to just about every EMC measurement problem. His work with coupling into large cavities (i.e. aircraft) set the foundation for a successful program of aircraft measurement research currently under way in our group.

Mike Crawford is shown in the lab at NIST circa 1978. Galen Koepke recalls, “This is the view most of us who worked with him in the lab saw day after day.”

A new idea for EMC measurements entered the scene around 1980. Mike put his whole-hearted enthusiasm and experimental prowess to work to become a leader in developing the reverberation chamber as one of the most useful EMC tools (well, at least the most complex!). Mike was a consummate experimentalist; he adhered to a philosophy that theory was only good if it agreed with measurement data. Dave Hill recalls his work with Mike at a time when reverberation chamber theory was just beginning to explain measurement results, “I had many discussions (and some disagreements) with Mike in the 1990s regarding measurement techniques and the theory of reverberation chambers. Mike was definitely an experimentalist and preferred to answer questions with measurements in the lab, but he was at least willing to listen to my theoretical opinions. In the early 1990s, one of the difficult issues was how to measure, to define, and to calculate the quality factor (Q) of reverberation chambers. This issue was particularly important because it determined the field strength that could be generated in reverberation chambers for immunity testing. Mike was convinced that the Q value obtained by averaging over stirrer position gave an underestimate of the Q, so he preferred to use either an adjusted value (his infamous k factor) or a peak value. The theory predicted that the average value should give the best agreement with theory if we could take proper account of all the losses. So even though Mike was skeptical, he worked very hard on making lots of careful single-frequency measurements and time-constant measurements based on averaging over stirrer position (Mike was always great at generating huge amounts of data). When all was done, Mike achieved the best agreement between theoretical Q and measured Q (using averaging of both single-frequency and time-constant data) that had ever been achieved to that time. Both measurement methods are still used to this day.”
Mike was the driving force behind the reverberation chamber program here at NIST. His leadership in this research set a strong foundation for all the work that followed and continues today. Along the way, he developed a reputation as the master of filling one graph with huge amounts of data and reducing it to a simple answer. John Ladbury, who worked with Mike when he was fresh out of college in 1987, recalls how this reputation came about, “Mike had great insight into reverberation chambers. Anyone with much experience with these beasts knows that the results are always VERY noisy. We would generate lots of noisy measurements. Mike would take the data and the plots back to his office and a few hours later would return with simple clean curves. He would take a French curve and eyeball some fit to the data. I always figured he was just guessing or oversimplifying the problem, but the more I have learned about reverb chambers, the more I have learned that they do have some very nice and simple characteristics. Mike was right-on in many of his predictions.”
Mike certainly loved to be in the laboratory working on another angle to an experiment (or perhaps trying to prove the theoreticians wrong!). John recalls those times in the reverb lab, “Mike had a boyish enthusiasm about most of the tasks he faced (except for paperwork…I really think he hated to spend time in his office). Whenever we started a new set of measurements or learned something new, his smile would just glow, and we couldn’t keep his hands off of the instruments (no matter how hard we tried!). You could read in his personality that he would drag himself back to his office to finish the things he needed to, but the lab kept sucking him back.” We could always tell when Mike had a hand in setting up an experiment. John remembers the most obvious indicator, “Although Mike was not one of those big strong linebacker types, any time he hooked up a cable or pad, I would need a wrench to remove it. He could tighten a cable tighter than anyone else I have ever known.”
Mike always worked hard but he was not a workaholic and he knew how to have some fun. John was fortunate to witness that side of Mike, “I don’t know if I should relate this, but Mike gave me my first experience with gambling. One night on a trip (I think out to Rome, New York) he took me to the bridle races. These are races in which the horse pulls a cart chariot-style around a racetrack. I had never done anything like this before, and Mike taught me how to place bets and how to read the odds. I don’t think I won a single race (which is probably best for any first gambling experience), and I think Mike broke even.”
Mike retired from government service in 1994. His attitude toward retirement is clear in these comments by John, “When Mike was coming close to retirement age, I remember him saying that there would be skid marks from his office door to the exit. Some might think that this means he hated his job, but nothing could be farther from the truth…he loved his work (at least in the lab). It just happens that he loved his time with his family and friends even more. He wanted to take whatever time the Good Lord decided he had left, and spend it with the people that meant the most to him. I am glad that he had a good 10 years after he retired to do just that.”
We have lost a colleague and a friend, an outstanding engineer and researcher, and a respected member of the EMC community. We take comfort in the memories and the legacy of Mike’s time with us.
The RF Fields Group, Electromagnetics Division, NIST, in Boulder, Colorado, wishes to offer its sincere condolences to Mike’s family. EMC

In Memoriam

Myron (Mike) Lloyd Crawford passed away on March 9, 2004 ending a battle with leukemia and finishing a valiant life of faith and example for his family and friends.
Mike was born October 29, 1938 in Orem Utah. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He married his high school sweetheart Marilyn in the Manti Temple on March 18, 1958. Upon graduating from Brigham Young University, they moved to Boulder, Colorado where he lived for 34 years and worked for the National Bureau of Standards (now known as NIST).
Although always humble, Mike earned a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado. He was an IEEE Fellow and a recognized expert in the field of Electromagnetic Compatibility. During his remarkable career, he published over 60 technical papers and received the distinguished Bronze Medal Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
While in Boulder, he developed many lifelong friendships and served as Scoutmaster and Bishop of the Boulder Second Ward of the LDS church. Upon retiring, he moved back to Orem, Utah and he and Marilyn served LDS Missions to Chicago, Illinois and at the Senior Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Mike enjoyed gardening, camping, and traveling. He unselfishly took his family and friends to enjoy seeing the world with him. He had a firm faith in God and was an example of obedience and service to everyone who knew him. His greatest joy in life was to be with his family and especially his 16 grandchildren. All will dearly miss his gentle teasing, playful nature and huge pancake breakfasts.
Excerpted from the obituary originally published in the Salt Lake Tribune on March 11, 2004.


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