Rüdenberg, Reinhold

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(b. Hannover, Germany, 4 February 1883; d. Boston, Massachusetts, 25 December 1961)

electrical engineering, electrophysics.

Rüdenberg, the son of a manufacturer, studied electrical and mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Hannover. After passing his final degree examination (1906) and his doctoral examination with distinction, he was assistant at Göttingen to Ludwig Prandtl, who was engaged in aerodynamic research. In 1908 Rüdenberg entered the Siemens-Schuckert works in Berlin as a testing engineer for electrical machines. Later he was placed in charge of the development division of the Berlin plant and served as the firm’s chief electrician. In 1916 he created the world’s first 60-MVA turbine generator for the Goldenberg power station in the Rhineland.

In 1913 Rüdenberg became Privatdozent at the Berlin Technische Hochschule. His first lectures dealt with three-phase commutator motors. He was granted the title “professor” in 1919 and named an honorary professor in 1927.

In over 100 publications, including several books, Rüdenberg treated heavy-current engineering and, occasionally, light-current engineering as well. His textbook on electrical switching processes was a great success; the first edition appeared in 1923 and the fourth, in English, in 1950. His more than 300 patents record the many contributions he made to all areas of electrical engineering.

In 1936 Rüdenberg decided to leave Germany; he went to England, where he worked until 1938 as a consulting engineer for the General Electric Company, Ltd., in London. In 1939 lie accepted the Gordon McKay professorship at Harvard. There he lectured on electric machines, on energy transfer, and on switching and compensation processes. In 1952, following his retirement, lie was a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles, at Rio de Janeiro, and at Montevideo.

Rüdenberg’s most important honors were an honorary doctorate from the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe (1921), a medal from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey (for his work in 1931 on the development of the electron microscope), and an honorary degree from the Technical University of West Berlin.


A complete bibliography of Rüdenberg’s publications is in the Jacottet and Strigel article below.

Secondary literature includes Ekkehard Hieronimus, “Reinhold Rüdenberg,” in Leben and Schicksal, a publication honoring the consecration of the synagogue in Hannover (Hannover, 1963), 143–149, with portrait; P. Jacottet and R. Strigel, “Reinhold Rüdenberg zum 75. Geburtstag,” in Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift, 79 , no. 4 (1958), 97–100, including publications for his jubilee and a portrait; and A. Timascheff, “Reinhold Rüdenberg gestorben,” in Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift, 83 , no. 8 (9 Apr. 1962), 283–284, with portrait.

Sigfrid von Weiher