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A tribute to Dr Maurice McDowell
Second Quarter 2008, News & events

It was with great sadness, that the team at Technews came to hear of the recent passing of Dr. Maurice McDowell, who passed away on Friday 23 May, 2008.

Maurice was involved in writing for Technews titles in one form of another for the better part of 23 years, and became an integral part of the Technews extended family, a loyal and committed professional whose contributions will be sorely missed. Maurice was a talented writer and highly respected technical journalist and consulting editor to several well-known publications, and as his colleague and friend Eric Milburn puts it, “there are many companies today, large and small, that were put on the map by a Maurice McDowell article.”

Maurice was born in Belfast, northern Ireland in 1945. After graduating from the Queens University of Belfast, with a BSc (1st class Hons) in 1967, Maurice entered post-graduate research at Queens under famed laser pioneer Professor Dan Bradley, finally obtaining his PhD (Optical Engineering) in 1971.

He joined the CSIR in Pretoria and was responsible for the creation of its world-leading optical design facility. Employed by the NPRL (National Physics Research Laboratory), he became chief research officer in 1976, senior chief research officer in 1979, head of the Optical Sciences Division in 1983, and deputy director and specialist researcher in 1984.

Whilst his own personal area of expertise was optical designs, evaluation and night vision systems, he was also intimately involved in laser and thin film technology as well as holography. During this period he acted as special consultant to Armscor on many occasions, and was affectionately referred to by the late Professor Louis van Biljoen, as Mr. Optics South Africa.

Maurice was appointed to the newly reorganised CSIR management team as director of the Division of Production Technology, his mission at the time to provide the essential R&D and technological back-up for South Africa’s manufacturing industry. Following the incorporation of this division into CSIR’s Aerotek, Maurice left the CSIR in late 1993, and soon afterwards he joined a local high-tech start-up company Measuring Instruments Technology (MIT) as shareholder and managing director.

He continued his close association with the measurement fraternity, publishing the The National Laboratory of South Africa and 20 years of Accreditation in South Africa.

Whilst engaged in his own business, Maurice continued to write for Technews publications, Dataweek and SA Instrumentation & Control (he has the unbeatable record of having over 200 articles published by Technews since 1985). He also developed the concept, along with Technews founding publisher Ray Beaumont, for Manufacturing Technology Today, which was launched in April 1994, and contributed regularly to Hi-Tech Security Solutions (which was launched in launched in 1995).

The simple truth that there was not a publication within Technews suite of products that was not editorially informed, in some fashion, through Maurice’s contributions, stands testament to his strengths as a technical journalist.

Maurice is survived by his wife Lilly, and three children Roisin, Bruce and Maurice Jnr. He was 63.

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