I recently read of the passing of Dimitry Grabbe and it saddened me deeply. As time passes those that preceded us are often forgotten and their accomplishments overlooked.
The Grabbe obituary indicated that he was 83 and had most recently taught at Worchester Polytech in Mass. He was responsible for more than 500 patents in the areas of machine design, semiconductor packaging, electronics assembly and optoelectronic connector design. Dimitry joined AMP in 1973. He was recognized by AMP with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which chose him for its Leonardo da Vinci Award. An IEEE Life Fellow, Grabbe was also a fellow of IMAPS.
In 2007 Grabbe was the fifth recipient of the IEEE Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology award. His citation reads: "For contributions to the fields of electrical/electronic connector technology, and development of multi-layer printed wiring boards."
Dimitry was part of the group Microelectronic Interconnect Greats that lived in the greater NYC metropolitan area in the days before Silicon Valley. When I was still young and impressionable, Dimitry was already a highly respected “leader of the Pack” along with close friends Jack Balde of ATT (who passed away in 2003) and George Messner of AMP AKZO (who passed away in 1996). With Bell Labs in its “hey day” and IBM Yorktown up the river, some would say that metropolitan New York was the center of the microelectronics universe.
What separated these three from the rest of the professionals in the area was that they always had time for discussions with younger colleagues like myself. They understood their responsibility to set up and lead meetings on the topics of the day and to help generate the next generation of technical leaders. They were true scientists who had little respect for “managers” and were always ready to share information with all those who would listen. If there was a rumor anywhere in the industry they knew it !
Some of the greatest meetings I ever went to were local meetings held at the old IEEE headquarters near the UN building in NYC . Grabbe and Messner and Balde were always there learning new things and sharing what they knew. A native New Yorker myself, I was living in Boston at the time and would make up excuses to get to NY to attend these meetings and be around these giants. Grabbe kept a museum of electronic products in his barn in PA. Supposedly he had things in there that no other museum had. Professionals from all over the country were sending him electronic devices knowing that he would take care of them in his personal “museum”. I truly hope all of that has not been lost ! Maybe an IEEE museum in his name would be appropriate? Many colleagues knew that both Messner and Grabbe had immigrated from the old Soviet Union after WWII. Grabbe related to me many times that he had had some problems with the KGB and spent the rest of his life “packing” â??¦not packagingâ??¦but "packing" in the urban context of carrying a handgun in a shoulder holster. For those who did not know this – it was the reason he always kept his jacket on !
In the early 1992 I got the opportunity to edit the first MCM textbook “Thin Film Multichip Modules” with Messner, Balde and Motorolas Iwona Turlik. A great learning experience on how to assemble and share information. (Little did I know what I would be doing later in life)
Grabbe and Balde also share the fact that they have received the IEEE CPMT Society medal, the highest honor available for packaging and interconnect practitioners. It’s worth looking at the list of winners of this award since these are truly the giants in our packaging field.
2004 – Jack Balde – ATT
2005 – Yutaka Tsukada – IBM
2006 – C. P. Wong – ATT, Ga Tech
2007 – Dimitry Grabbe – AMP
2008 – Paul Totta, Karl Puttlitz – IBM
2009 – George Harman – NIST
2010 – Herbert Reichl – Fraunhofer IZM, Berlin
2011 – Rao Tummala – IBM, Ga Tech
If anyone reading this does not know who these men are or why they won these awardsâ??¦well you’ve got some reading to do !
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