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John Thomas

EE’s First Ph.D. Mentors One of His Best – John Thomas Receives Ph.D at Age 70

As a member of the graduating class of 2006, John Thomas at the age of 70, took a different path than most UW graduate students. John graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1953, and from there went on to get his B.S. in physics from California Institute of Technology. After graduating, John spent 37 years at Boeing, working on projects such as the Lunar Orbiter I, the Mariner Venus/Mercury and the B2 bomber.

In 1997, after being retired for two years, John decided it was time to pursue a graduate degree. Enrolling at UW, the institution his parents and his brother chose, John began the process of earning his M.S. in elctrical engineering. In 1998, he completed his master’s degree, and from there went on to earn his Ph.D. in 2006, also in EE.

John describes his advisor, Professor Akira Ishimaru, as an integral part of why he went back to school. “His advice regarding which topics were worth investigating was invaluable, and he always had helpful ideas when I had reached a difficult point in my research.”

Akira describes John as motivated and dedicated, with exceptional intelligence and perseverance. “I am not sure if he may be the oldest person who has received a Ph.D. in our department, but I am sure he is one of the best.”

The outstanding relationship between Akira and John highlights what so many students have found in Akira: an exemplary engineer and professor who always makes the mentorship and encouragement of his students the top priority.

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