A passion for electrical engineering

Dr Alfred Spälti, who passed away peacefully on 13 November 2014 at the age of 97, had lived a long and fulfilling life. Having grown up in Rümlang and Effretikon, he began his studies in the Department of Electrical Engineering at ETH Zurich in 1935. Five years later, he became an assistant to Karl Kuhlmann, Professor of Theoretical Electrical Engineering, who supervised his doctoral thesis on “A vacuum tube device for the measurement of wattage, voltage and amperage”.

A passionate engineer, he subsequently worked at Albiswerk Zürich AG, at Brown, Boveri & Cie (now ABB) and, for much of his career, at Landis+Gyr. Here, as Technical Director, he patented several of his inventions. At the same time, he was active for many years in the Swiss Physics Society, and even in his retirement he continued to travel the world as an official of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Dr Spälti first read about the possibility of making a legacy in favour of ETH Zurich in an article on the entrepreneur and ETH alumnus Branco Weiss. He then contacted the ETH Zurich Foundation to find out more about ways of providing support through his estate. These discussions led to a close and long-standing relationship between Dr Spälti and the ETH Zurich Foundation. He was particularly pleased to visit the laboratory where he had carried out research himself during his student days. The ETH Zurich Foundation appreciates the confidence Dr Spälti placed in it and the responsibility assigned through his legacy. In accordance with the donor’s wishes, the newly established “Dr Alfred und Flora Spälti Fonds” will be used to support science and technology, specifically in the fields of electrical engineering, energy research (including nuclear technology), telecommunications and physics.

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