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William "Nick" Hitchon, ECE Professor
July 11, 2023

ECE Professor William (Nick) Hitchon retires

Written By: Jason Daley


In the spring of 2022, William (Nick) Hitchon retired from a profound career within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor, author, and innovator, Hitchon was a member of the department for 40 years.

Hitchon received his PhD in engineering science from Oxford University, emerging as an expert in theoretical modeling of plasmas (ionized, electrically conducting gases). His early career focused on modeling how high temperature plasmas behave when confined by magnetic fields for the purpose of producing energy via nuclear fusion. After joining the department in 1982, he expanded his research into a broad and diverse portfolio of “kinetic” theoretical models and computational modeling tools for low temperature plasmas used in semiconductor fabrication and lighting, electrical behavior of semiconductor devices, and microscopic phenomena in magnetic computer storage devices and gas dynamics.

ECE Professor Nick Hitchon
Professor William “Nick” Hitchon

He became a full professor in 1994. During his career, he has published more than 100 journal articles and written three books, including Plasma Processes for Semiconductor Fabrication.

Hitchon has earned a reputation for outstanding teaching and mentorship. He advised more than 20 graduate students, many of whom have taken prominent roles in academia and industry. He taught 25 different ECE courses, including many that he developed, at both the graduate and undergraduate level, covering topics as diverse as his research interests, including electromagnetic field theory, semiconductor electronics, plasmas, and signal processing. He has been an ardent advocate for the welfare and success of all students. His dedication in the classroom and to students led engineering undergraduates to name him an outstanding instructor five times.

Hitchon served on the Graduate School research committee, as admissions chair of the Materials Science Program, and chair of the Physical Science Section of the Campus Fellowship Committee, among other activities. Between 1999 and 2002 he served as the ECE department chair.