The obituary below was first published in the Institution of Engineering Technology's Member News magazine, Issue 45, August 2017. It is reproduced here by kind permission of the Institution of Engineering Technology.

Professor John Clifford West CBE PhD DSc FREng HonFIET

June 1922 - October 2016

A tutor and mentor

John West photoProfessor John West has died at the age of 94, in October 2016.

A Who's Who entry describes a man who was a professional engineer with a long list of academic achievements and also a leading philatelist in the world of postal history.

Graduating from the University of Manchester in 1943, John joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as an Engineering Lieutenant. Based in Northern Ireland, he serviced ASDIC submarine detection systems, often in atrocious weather. During this period he met his future wife Winefride, serving in the Women's Royal Naval Service. They married in 1946, after which three daughters completed a close family.

Post-war, John's impressive academic career began. Lecturing in electrical engineering at the University of Manchester, he joined Professor Freddie Williams' team, contributing to major research advances in digital computers and novel electrical machines.

In 1958, John became Professor of Electrical Engineering at Queen's University Belfast, introducing major changes in the teaching programme, integrating academic groups in electronics and machines.

As founder Dean of Applied Sciences and later Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sussex, John established the Inter-University Institute of Engineering Control. This body linked the universities of Bangor, Sussex and Warwick for research and MSc teaching in control systems. He ended his academic career as Vice-Chancellor of Bradford University.

Throughout his career, John was active on national and international committees, both academic and cultural. Having joined the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1949, John had become President by 1985. In his inaugural address, 'Forty years in control', he spoke about the concept of control and why it should be an essential part of the education of all scientists.

John's contributions have been recognised through several awards: CBE in 1977, Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Honorary Fellowships of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology and honorary degrees from Sussex and Bradford.

Upon retiring from engineering, John continued his outstanding contributions to international philately, winning gold medals at exhibitions in Seoul and Seville in the 1990s.

Ultimately, for people in any sphere of life, John had an unfailingly cheerful personality that solved many individual problems. All who came into personal contact with 'JC' would talk of his personal concerns and help whenever it was needed. He was a tutor and mentor to many.


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