In memoriam: Professor James (Jim) Holte

Tribute written by ECE faculty, and former dean of CSE, Professor Mos Kaveh.

University of Minnesota ECE alumnus and long-time faculty member Associate Professor Emeritus James (Jim) Holte passed away on February 10, 2022, at the age of 90.

Jim was born in Grand Forks, ND on April 9, 1931. His family moved to Minneapolis, where he attended South High School and the University of Minnesota, receiving his BS degree in electrical engineering in 1953, serving the department as an undergraduate lab assistant during his senior year. He was admitted to the graduate program in electrical engineering, serving as a teaching assistant and an instructor from 1953 to 1957, and a research assistant from 1954 to 1955. 

Jim’s wide-ranging interests and talents, and the desire to connect with and educate the broader community were evident early in his career. For example, in 1957 the recently established Minneapolis School of Art requested permission from the head of the Department of Electrical Engineering (as the department was then known) to allow Jim to develop for them a course on sciences that would expose the arts students to the nature of the scientific method. Jim Holte completed his PhD degree under the supervision of Professor Emeritus Robert Lambert, was appointed an assistant professor of electrical engineering in January 1960, and served as a faculty member in the department until his retirement in May 2010.

Jim’s research spanned a number of areas, including acoustics, microwave strip lines, and innovations in engineering education. However, the focus of his work since the 1970s was in biomedical applications, including instrumentation, and modeling for cardiovascular, respiratory, and neural systems. He collaborated broadly with medical professionals and medical device engineers, and trained legions of graduate and undergraduate students through research mentorship, and education in two popular courses: EE 5811, Biomedical Instrumentation, and EE 5821, Biomedical System Modeling and Analysis. 

Jim also contributed to program development and administration in the college (then known as Institute of Technology—IT) and the University. He served for several years as the Director of Continuing Education in Engineering and Science. He also helped with the creation of the IT Honors Program, the biomedical engineering graduate program, and the Biomedical Engineering Center. He served as advisor to the IEEE student chapter, and HKN, and was an active volunteer leader in IEEE Region 4.

Jim Holte was a champion of students and their well-being, and of diversity and inclusion. His office door was usually open, and his help and advice were sought by students. He was a supportive and welcoming colleague, and I had the good fortune to know him personally, and to work with him as a colleague from the day I arrived at the University of Minnesota. 

(Image credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)