Roger W. Sudbury, former executive officer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, dies at age 72

A leader in microwave solid-state electronics for radar, he worked at the Laboratory for 41 years and became a trusted adviser and mentor to many.


Longtime MIT Lincoln Laboratory employee Roger W. Sudbury SM '63, EE '64, who rose from a technical staff member researching solid-state devices for modern radars to become the Laboratory’s executive officer, serving within the Director’s Office, passed away on Aug. 22. He was 72 years old.

Sudbury was nationally recognized as a visionary leader in the development of gallium-arsenide monolithic circuits for applications in electronically scanned radars. The work that he led at the Laboratory encouraged and influenced efforts at a number of major electronic firms, leading to the United States’ world leadership in military solid-state radars for missile and air defense. These advances are evident in the radars for the new fighters, the F-22 and F-35, as well as in a number of missile-defense radars.

He served a tour from 1976 to 1978 at the Lincoln Laboratory Kwajalein Field Site in the Marshall Islands, where he was appointed the associate site manager. He also led the fielding and operation of the Cobra Eye System, an airborne infrared data collection platform. Through his 41-year career at Lincoln Laboratory, he served as a knowledgeable adviser, a wise mentor, and a friendly confidant to many staff and managers.

He was active in a leadership role in the IEEE, the world's leading professional society for electrical and electronic engineers. He served on the IEEE board and chaired its Employee Benefits and Compensation Committee. He was President of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society in 2000, and in 2010 was the recipient of the Society’s Distinguished Service Award “for outstanding and dedicated service to the society.” He received the IEEE’s prestigious award with his election to Fellow of the IEEE in 2004 for his contributions to “leadership in gallium-arsenide integrated circuits.”

Early in his career, he served in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of captain, and was responsible for the Lightweight Observation Helicopter avionics package, which became the Army’s standard avionics.

He was valedictorian of his high school class in 1956 and was one of the initial National Merit Scholars. In 1960, he graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in electrical engineering with highest honors and did his graduate work at MIT.
Sudbury was the second of three sons born to Judge J. Graham and Avis Sudbury of Blytheville, Ark. He married the former Margaret Hobbs in 1965, and they have two sons, Jonathan and Andrew.

A 40-year resident of Winchester, Mass., Sudbury served in Winchester’s Town Meeting, as chairman of Boy Scout Troop 506, as a lighting technician for the Winchester Players, and on the Standing Committee of the Winchester Unitarian Society. He is an emeritus board member of the Winchester Committee for a Better Chance.

A celebration of life service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the Winchester Unitarian Society, 478 Main Street, Winchester, Mass. All are welcome.


Topics: Lincoln Laboratory, Obituaries, Staff

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