For more than 50 years at UCLA, Stafsudd was widely recognized by students and peers for his enthusiasm, passion, and deep understanding of an exceptionally wide range of technical and non-technical disciplines. Colleagues and friends say he had a nimble mind that was backed by an encyclopedic memory – which sometimes made it hard to keep up as he easily jumped from one seemingly disparate concept to another. Stafsudd loved to generously share his knowledge with a zeal that captured the students’ attention.
“Oscar was a true scholar and educator who had been a defining contributor to UCLA,” said CK Ken Yang.
“Oscar was a true scholar and educator who had been a defining contributor to UCLA,” said CK Ken Yang, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “He has been an anchor in our department for nearly six decades, leaving an indelible mark on our program with his energy, passion and generosity. He will be greatly missed and remembered fondly. »
An only child and the first in his family to go to college, Stafsudd transferred from Los Angeles City College to UCLA as a junior majoring in physics. Working at various jobs to pay for his education, including Atomics International and Hughes Research Laboratories, he earned his BS, MS, and Ph.D. majoring in spectroscopy from UCLA. After earning his doctorate in 1967, he joined the faculty at UCLA in what was then known as the College of Engineering.
Stafsudd was a recognized authority in the fields of crystal growth which produces essential materials for lasers, optics and quantum electronics; infrared spectroscopy; and semiconductors used in infrared sensing systems and solar cells. He was also highly regarded for his expertise in micro-miniaturization and micro-machining of optoelectronic components of less than one millimeter. In recent years, he has collaborated with the late Dr. Warren Grundfest, a surgeon and professor of bioengineering at UCLA, to develop real-time medical imaging techniques. Their work has resulted in early cancer detection technologies and an ongoing research collaboration with Dr. Maie St. John, professor and chair of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at UCLA Health.
Recognized as an excellent and adaptable classroom instructor, Stafsudd has served as an advisor to more than 160 students from diverse backgrounds who have earned Ph.Ds and/or Masters. He has taught over 20 different electrical and computer engineering courses, including graduate level courses in solid state electronics, quantum electronics, and photonics. He has developed several undergraduate and graduate courses, including the Introductory Engineering Design course which emphasizes teamwork and communication skills. Stafsudd has shared these skills with faculty across the department, earning him praise for his generous assistance in course development and teaching.
Stafsudd has consistently received high marks on student evaluations, many of whom have cited his enthusiasm, knowledge, and patience. In 2011, he received the Lockheed Martin Award for Teaching Excellence from the school. He has also held several academic administrative leadership positions, including serving as vice president of the electrical and computer engineering department for graduate affairs for 10 years and as vice president for undergraduate affairs from 2011 to 2018.
Stafsudd and his wife of 55 years, Jacquie, also a physics grad from UCLA, donated $1 million in 2014 to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to support undergraduate programs.
In 2017, the school celebrated Stafsudd’s 50 years on the faculty. In addition to faculty and staff, many of his former students were present. He retired the following year from full-time teaching, but continued to teach laboratory classes and collaborate in research. In 2019, Stafsudd received the UCLA Samueli Lifetime Contribution Award, one of the school’s highest honors, in recognition of his long career and the many ways he has contributed to the school and to the scientific community at large.
Stafsudd had many non-academic interests. These ranged from a love of sports cars, growing exotic flowers and plants, photography, classic movies and traveling around the world with Jacquie from the Arctic to Antarctica and many intermediate points. He was an avid builder and pilot of radio-controlled gliders and motorized airplanes. Many times early in the morning, Stafsudd could be found piloting his planes at the Woodley Park Apollo 11 Model Aircraft Field in the San Fernando Valley.
In his spare time, Stafsudd immersed himself in astronomy, building up a substantial collection of telescopes and lenses of various sizes that evolved into thermoelectrically cooled electronic imaging systems. He incorporated telescopic optical systems in teaching optical principles to his students.
Besides his wife, Stafsudd is survived by his sons Peter and John, his stepdaughters Kellie and Jing and his grandchildren Kasey, Robert and James.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in her memory be made to Oscar Stafsudd Undergraduate Student Research Fund.