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October 28, 2020

ECE Professor Emeritus James Skiles passes away

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UW-Madison Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Emeritus James “Jim” Skiles died October 19, 2020, at the age of 92.

 James Skiles
James Skiles

Skiles was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1948, a master’s from the Missouri School of Mines & Metallurgy and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1954, all in electrical engineering.

Skiles joined the faculty of UW-Madison’s ECE department after earning his doctorate, spending his entire career at the university until his retirement in 1989. Skiles specialized in electric power systems and in analog and digital computer technologies and applications. He served as chair of the department between 1967 and 1972 and was director of the University-Industry Research Program from 1972 until 1976. From 1976 until 1989 he was director of the Energy Research Center and was Wisconsin Electric Utilities Professor of energy engineering. He also served on the Graduate School Research Committee.

Skiles mentored many students over his career and continued his work on superconductive magnetic storage systems and hybrid vehicles with them even during his retirement.

An Eagle Scout, Skiles enjoyed outdoor activities his entire life, including skiing, backpacking, canoeing, birdwatching, gardening and other endeavors in nature. He and his wife, Deloris, were also pilots and aircraft owners, flying throughout North America including trips across Canada and Alaska.

He also enjoyed travel, visiting over 50 countries. Skiles had a special love for extreme environments, traveling to Antarctica and sailing via icebreaker to remote locations including Greenland, Siberia’s Arctic coast and Canada’s Arctic islands.

Skiles married Deloris in September, 1948. Together they had three sons—Randall, Steven and Jeffrey—and three grandchildren.