Mac Van Valkenburg

Mac Van Valkenburg
Mac Van Valkenburg
Distinguished engineering educator and author of internationally renowned textbooks. As Engineering Dean, he led the College of Engineering to international eminence during a time of great growth and innovation within the College.

Honored Posthumously

Although he was recognized throughout his career for achievements in circuit theory, beacon antennas, servomechanisms, and computer science, Mac E. Van Valkenburg was even more renowned for his commitment to engineering education and for his textbooks. At his memorial service in 1997, Dr. Steven Sample remarked, “Mac Van Valkenburg was, first and foremost, a teacher—a teacher par excellence— one of the very best engineering teachers in the world.”

After Van Valkenburg graduated from the University of Utah in 1943, his involvement in the war effort led him to MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, where under direction of Ernst Guillemin, he helped develop radar. After earning his master’s degree from MIT in 1946, he taught at the University of Utah until 1955, with two years off to complete a PhD at Stanford University.

In 1955, Van Valkenburg came to the University of Illinois as a member of the electrical engineering faculty and as Associate Director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory. He was one of the organizers of the first Allerton Conference on Circuits and Systems in 1963, which grew to be one of the premier conferences on system theory.

In 1966, Van Valkenburg went to Princeton as head of its electrical engineering department. Eight years later, he returned to the University of Illinois, and in 1982, he received the first endowed chair in the College of Engineering, the W. W. Grainger Chair in Electrical Engineering. Van Valkenburg served as Dean of the College of Engineering from 1984 until his retirement in 1988.

Van Valkenburg may be best remembered for his seminal engineering textbooks. Colleagues and students have hailed the clarity in these engineering classics. Network Analysis, (1955), had a major impact on engineering education. Later, Introduction to Modern Network Synthesis (1960) was published, followed by Analog Filter Design (1982).

A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of IEEE, Van Valkenburg received numerous awards and honors for his efforts in engineering education, including the Halliburton Engineering Education Leadership Award, the IEEE Education Medal, the ASEE Lamme Medal (ASEE’s highest honor), the ASEE George Westinghouse Award, the IEEE Centennial Medal, the Guillemin Prize, and Distinguished Alumni awards from the University of Utah and the College of Engineering at Illinois. The IEEE Education Society annually awards its Mac Van Valkenburg Award to young faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to teaching unusually early in their professional careers.

Van Valkenburg also served in a number of capacities within the professional community: as Vice President of IEEE, as Editor of Proceedings of the IEEE and IEEE Transactions on Circuit Theory, and as Editor in Chief of IEEE Press.


  • BS U of Utah
  • MA MIT
  • PhD Stanford