Dr. Syed A. Nasar, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at the University of Kentucky, passed away on Sunday, January 29, 2012 after a long illness.
Dr. Nasar was widely considered the world’s leading authority on electric machinery. His pioneering contributions to education, research, development, and design greatly influenced the field for more than 50 years. He is best known for his research in linear electric machines and novel rotary motors. Dr. Nasar also made significant contributions to the understanding of the edge-effect phenomenon in linear machines. Applications of his work ranged from artificial heart pump drives to transportation systems and electromagnetic launchers.
Syed Abu Nasar was born in Gorakhpur, India on December 25, 1932. He earned his M.S. from Texas A&M University in 1957 and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963. Both degrees were in electrical engineering.
After a brief tenure at Gonzaga University, he joined the University of Kentucky in 1968 as an associate professor of electrical engineering. By 1970, he was promoted to full professor. Over the years, he served the EE department in numerous leadership roles beginning as Director of Graduate Studies (1981 – 1988) and culminating as department chair (1989 to 1997). In recognition of his research activities, he was named a University Research Professor for the 1979-80 academic year. At the time of his retirement in 2002, he held the James R. Boyd Professorship of Electrical Engineering.
In addition to being a prolific researcher, Dr. Nasar was an outstanding educator. He guided the M.S. theses and Ph.D. dissertations of more than 40 students who have gone on to distinguish themselves in industry, academia and government. He also hosted numerous visiting researchers and post-doctoral visitors from around the world. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of the international journal Electric Machines and Power Systems, through which he established and maintained a forum for dissemination of information for the electrical machine community. Dr. Nasar authored or co-authored more than 100 journal papers, 50 talks and 33 books, which have been translated into eight languages.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) bestowed upon Dr. Nasar the prestigious Nikola Tesla Award recognizing the individual who has made outstanding contributions to the generation and use of electric power. He was recognized “For leadership in the research, development, and design of linear and rotating machines, and contributions to electrical engineering education.” In addition, he was named a Life Fellow of the IEEE “for contributions to the understanding of electromechanical systems, and in particular, to linear electric motors”. He was active on national and international steering committees abd working groups and as a reviewer for IEEE. Dr. Nasar was also a Fellow of the IEE (United Kingdom) and a member of Eta Kappa Nu and Sigma Xi.
The National Science Foundation continuously supported his research program for 35 years and he received research grants from NASA, General Electric, and The Ford Motor Company. He was the holder of five U.S. and international patents. His knowledge and expertise led more than 60 companies and organizations to seek him out as a consultant.
Dr. Nasar and his late wife, Sara, were well known for their generosity to community programs and charitable organizations. They were actively involved with the UK International Hospitality Program. Over the years, they served as a host family to dozens of international students, opening their home and welcoming them to the UK community.
When asked about Dr. Nasar’s impact on the college, Dr. Thomas Lester, Dean of the College of Engineering, said “Dr. Nasar is the father of the modern Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UK. He had an unequaled eye for quality in the faculty members he hired and mentored. His significant research and the publications of his work set a standard for others in the department to emulate.”
Dr. Lee T. Todd, UK President Emeritus, remembers Dr. Nasar’s impact in a more personal sense, as a key mentor for a young engineering professor, “Dr. Nasar took me under his wing when I was a young Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at UK. Even though he was not the Department Chair at the time, he strongly urged me to submit my tenure case after only a few years on the faculty. He was concerned that no EE Professor had gained tenure in the previous seven or eight years. As a result of his guidance, support and encouragement I received tenure that year. He kept track of me throughout my business career and wrote me encouraging notes frequently as well as during my term as President of UK. His tremendous research record set him apart as an outstanding faculty member. He was someone I greatly admired and someone I was very fortunate to have as a mentor during my career. “
Dr. Nasar is survived by his two daughters Naheed (Francis) Bleecker of Brookfield, WI and Sajida Syed of Cary, NC and four grandchildren; Yusuf, Safeeyah and Aliyah Quereshi and Rabiya Syed.