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John M. Fluke

John Fluke, Sr. (left) with his wife, Lyla, along with Dean J. Ray Bowen in December 1982. (UW alumni photo)

John Fluke Senior graduated from the University of Washington with a BSEE in 1935. He also obtained a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps commission, but in the penurious pre-war era was not called to active duty. Fluke then obtained an M.S.E.E. from M.I.T. and in 1936 went to work for General Electric in Schenectady. In 1941 during the pre-Pearl Harbor build up Fluke was called to active duty and assigned to work with Hyman G. Rickover, who at the time was the Navy's top expert on shipboard electric power systems. Rickover was later famous as the father of the Nuclear Navy. Working with him must have been a life-transforming experience.

John Fluke got out of the Navy in 1946 and spent several years in Connecticut as a consultant. In 1948 he started the John Fluke Engineering Company in the basement of his house. By 1952 he had outgrown his basement and was prepared to move "back home." His friend David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard fame, with whom Fluke and roomed while at GE, tried to get him to move to Stanford and not the "intellectual vacuum" of Seattle. Viewed from an electronics perspective, Packard may have had a case. Fluke, however, let the Rainier factor win, and established his company in Everett. Fluke's company is now an iconic name in electronic meters. Fluke himself served many years on the College of Engineering Visiting Committee, endowed the first chaired professorship in the College of Engineering (alas, not in Electrical Engineering) and contributed significant funds to the Washington Technology Center, whose building now bears his name. His son, John Fluke Jr., was a 1964 graduate of the Electrical Engineering Department.

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