Martti Tiuri in Memoriam

Professor of Radio Engineering, Member of Parliament Martti Tiuri had an unusually extensive career as a teacher, researcher and societal influencer.

Professor of Radio Engineering, Member of Parliament Martti Tiuri passed away on 25 March 2016. He was born in Koski on 13 November 1925.

Professor Emeritus Tiuri acted as a professor of radio engineering at TKK in 1962–1989 and a member of parliament for the National Coalition Party in 1983–2003. He had an unusually extensive career as a teacher, researcher and societal influencer. He looked into the future and was a part of initiating many new things. As the professor of radio engineering at Helsinki University of Technology, he was a part of creating the technology and competence we utilise in the information society. As a radio engineer and researcher, he played a part in launching television operations in Finland and produced notable contributions to many areas of radio technology: in radio astronomy and remote sensing as well as the research and development of antennas and the microwave antennas required in industrial automation. As a politician, he created visions of the future and spoke in favour of environmental issues as well as the needs of the information society.

Martti Tiuri studied electrical engineering at Helsinki University of Technology and graduated as a Master of Science (Technology) in 1950. He pursued further studies at both TKK and Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California (as an ASLA scholar). He graduated as licentiate of science (technology) in 1958 and earned his doctorate in 1960. His doctoral dissertation 'Investigations of radio reflections from satellite produced ion trails using 100 Mc CW radar' was concerned with the research on the trails left by the first satellites on the ionosphere. Tiuri was Finland's third doctor in the field of radio technology and the first in the field of space research.

Martti Tiuri worked as a research engineer at the Radio Laboratory of the Technical Research Centre of Finland throughout his entire further studies. Radio technology also played a special role in his recreational activities. When the television club of the Society of Radio Engineers realised the first public television broadcast in May 1955, Martti Tiuri was among the leading forces in the endeavour. Tiuri acted as the secretary of the club and, as the assistant of radio technology, supervised the construction of the transmitter and was responsible for designing and adjusting the first transmission antenna.

In 1962, Martti Tiuri was appointed professor of radio engineering of TKK. Before this, he had already gained practice working as a professor during a year-long visit to Ohio State University in the years 1961–1962. Tiuri was one of the five first people appointed research professor at the Academy of Finland, serving in the position in the years 1970–1975. During this time, the millimetre-wave radio telescope of Metsähovi, the so-called great pumpkin, was built for space research. Tiuri was an efficient teacher: 15 Doctors of Science (Technology), 31 Licentiates of Science (Technology) and 180 Masters of Science (Technology) graduated during his active professorship. A large number of Tiuri's students also completed their doctoral degrees elsewhere – many of them in foreign countries. Around twenty of his students have been appointed professors.

Perhaps the most significant effort of Tiuri's period as a professor, particularly early on, was his untiring demand for establishing professorships in electronics and communications engineering. This was indeed done at TKK, enabling Finland's position as a trailblazer in the current era of information technology. Tiuri served as an active professor until 1983, when he was first elected in the Parliament of Finland. Tiuri retired from his position as the professor of radio engineering in 1989, having fully fulfilled his duties. Many companies utilised him in their management bodies as an expert in technology and a visionary. Martti Tiuri acted in the board of a foundation awarding grants of encouragement for doctoral students in the field of communications technology until his death, even acting as the chair of the board until the spring of 2015.

Tiuri gained international recognition as a researcher, for instance in 1986 when he was the first Finn to be elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The International Academy of Astronautics also accepted Tiuri as its member.

Martti Tiuri has particularly looked into the future both as a professor of radio engineering and as a member of parliament. During his term as a member of parliament, Tiuri's interest in the future produced many books: 'Future begins now' (1984), 'Finland on the way to the future' (1986), 'Possibilities of the Earth' (1990) and 'The future is different' (1999) and 'Road to a sustainable future' (2011). Tiuri had a crucial impact on the establishment of the Committee for the Future of the Finnish Parliament and also chaired the committee. His straightforward visions of the arrival of the information society were often misinterpreted in the 1980s and he was downright feared outside the Helsinki region as 'tiurism' was believed to depopulate most of Finland. As a solution securing the sustainable development of Finland's supply of energy, Tiuri always recommended building more nuclear plants. Acid rains brought on by the use of fossil fuels, fine particles and the greenhouse effect were expressions often recurring in Tiuri's presentations in both the Finnish Parliament and the press in Finland as well as the Council of Europe and the meetings of its committee of science and technology.

Antti Räisänen
Professor of radio engineering

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