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In Loving Memory of Ron Harley

Atlanta, GA

It is with great sadness that we share with you that our dear friend and colleague, Ron Harley, died on October 30, 2017 after a battle with cancer. 

In 1999, Harley joined the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), where he held the Duke Power Distinguished Professorship. Harley was appointed as a Regents’ Professor in 2009 and also served multiple terms as the electrical energy technical interest group chair. His research and teaching interests spanned the design and control of electrical machines, control of power systems, design and diagnostics of electrical machines, and applying artificial intelligence techniques to power systems and machines.

Harley was highly respected and admired by his colleagues here in ECE, at Georgia Tech, and in his IEEE professional societies in controls, industry applications, power engineering, power electronics, and neural networks. Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 1999, Harley was on the faculty for 27 years at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa, where he served as a professor, electrical engineering department head, and dean of engineering. He was a Fellow of IEEE, IET (London), Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, and Member of the Academy of Science in South Africa. 

Harley was a visiting professor at the Georgia Tech School of ECE in 1994-95 and also served as a visiting professor at Iowa State University and Clemson University. He published over 600 refereed journal and conference papers, and he graduated almost 40 Ph.D. students and over 50 M.S. students throughout his entire academic career. Eleven of these students are now faculty at well-known universities around the world, and two have been department chairs at Imperial College London and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Harley was a popular teacher and mentor with both undergraduate and graduate students, and for the last 10 years, he advised undergraduate research teams through the Opportunity Research Scholars Program. Harley also co-advised a group of 22 undergraduate and graduate students that designed a 5 kW rooftop photovoltaic system for a medical clinic in Thoman, Haiti. He also encouraged and assisted students in obtaining equipment donations from various U.S. companies, as well as travel funds to send the team to Haiti to install and commission the entire system successfully.

Harley received a number of prestigious IEEE technical awards over the years, including the 2009 Richard H. Kaufmann Field Award for his contributions to monitoring, control, and optimization of electrical processes. In 2004, he was honored with the ECE Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor given to an ECE faculty member for teaching, research, and professional service.

Harley is survived by his wife, June; daughters Ilona, of Durban, and Linda, who is a faculty member in Tech’s Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering; and two granddaughters. He was preceded in death by his son, Keith. 

Funeral services were held on November 4 at Ingleside Presbyterian Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Gideons International.

Last revised May 15, 2020