In Memoriam: EMC Leader Herbert Mertel, “An Engineer’s Engineer”

In Memoriam: Herbert Mertel

In 2021, the engineering world lost one of its most prominent figures with the passing of Herbert Mertel, a renowned expert in the field of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). His legacy and spirit will live on through two IEEE initiatives his family and friends generously supported in his memory – the new ‘Fischer Mertel Community of Projects’ within EPICS in IEEE and the renaming of the IEEE EMC Society’s Young Professional Award for Herbert K. Mertel.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1931, Mertel immigrated to the US in the 1950s, served in the US Army, and graduated from Indiana Technical College in Fort Wayne, IN, US with a degree in electrical engineering.  After several years with General Dynamics’ Convair Astronautics Division, he founded EMACO, a global provider of electromagnetic compatibility and RFI consulting and compliance testing.  In addition to consulting in the field of EMC, Mertel was very active in IEEE’s EMC Society and served on its Board of Directors from 1979-1983 and 1989-1993.  Mertel received the Laurence G. Cumming Award for outstanding service to the EMC Society in 2005 and was ultimately presented with a prestigious “Hall of Fame” Award in 2009 for his continued contributions to the EMC Society throughout his long and illustrious career.

In his memory, the Mertel family is generously donating to the following two initiatives:

  • The Fischer Mertel Community of Projects — “The EPICS in IEEE ‘Fischer Mertel Community of Projects’ was established to inspire and support outstanding engineering ideas and efforts that help communities worldwide,” shared Tina Mertel, Herbert’s daughter. “Joe Fischer and my father had a lifelong friendship and excelled as engineering leaders and founders of their respective companies (Fischer Communications and EMACO) and I think that my father would have been proud to know that their friendship and work are being honored in this way.”
  • The ‘Herbert K Mertel Young Professionals Award’ — The EMC Society’s ‘Herbert K Mertel Young Professionals Award’ (previously known as its ‘Young Professionals Award’) aims to support one young engineering professional in their endeavors each year.  “My father began his engineering career as a young immigrant to the US and I hope that each year’s recipient finds support in knowing that the award recognizes their ‘can-do’ approach to their work, much like my father’s energy in creating a successful company from a seed thought,” Tina explained.

“I watched my father dedicate many hours to IEEE and the community he helped build among its members in which engineers could gather to ‘talk shop,’” Tina said of the impactful role IEEE played in her father’s life.  “I chose the IEEE Foundation to honor my father because it provides some of the same values of family among the larger community of engineers, including camaraderie, encouragement, and the assurance that hard work will be recognized and rewarded.”

“Glenn Behrmann, my father’s former colleague at EMACO/TUV, recently described my father as “an engineer’s engineer” and “someone with the innate ability to solve real problems quickly, without a lot of fuss or talk,” said Tina, who’s excited that her father’s past work can help inspire future generations of innovation.
“I’d like my dad’s legacy within IEEE to be an appreciation that impactful engineering is practiced as a craft based on an innate ability combined with hard work and support from a community of like-minded practitioners,” Tina confirmed.  “And I’d like him to be remembered as a dedicated professional – truly ‘the engineer’s engineer.’”
Tribute Gifts to the IEEE Foundation can be a deeply gratifying way to recognize someone that touched your life while advancing technology for humanity. There are several types of gifts to help you pay tribute: Gifts in Memory, Gifts in Honor and Gifts in Celebration, all are gratefully accepted and can be made at any time. 

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