February 19, 2003

Beloved Professor Mourned

Print More

Dedicated Cornell Professor of electrical and computer engineering, Johann Peter Krusius, passed away this past January at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca. Krusius, 58, had pancreatic cancer.

Krusius, described as “quite a force” by Clif Pollock, director of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1944.


He was respected by many for his honesty and passion.

“Peter was a blunt and direct person in a refreshing way, he was unafraid to ask the right questions,” Pollock said.

Colleague and friend Prof. Dieter Ast PhD ’69 said of Krusius, “The longer you knew him, the better you liked him.”

Ast also described Krusius as “pretty fearless.” He once signed a waiver in order to climb a dangerous trail in Rocky Mountain Park while attending a conference in Colorado.

In 1975, Krusius graduated from the Helsinki Technical University with a PhD in electron physics. He came to Cornell in 1979 under a Fulbright Fellowship and in 1987, he became a full professor.

In the four years between his graduation and arrival at Cornell, he conducted research at the Institute of Physics of the University of Dortmund, the Electron Physics Laboratory at Helsinki University of Technology, and the Semiconductor Laboratory at the Technical Research Center of Finland.


According to his colleagues, Krusius was also a “great” faculty advisor in his years at Cornell. He gave a significant amount of his time to over 25 PhD students over the years.

“He did a very good job with his students; they are every where in industry: IBM, HP, and Intel [among others],” Ast said.

Krusius’ own work was also influential.

“[Krusius] made a big impact on electronic packaging,” Pollock said.

Electronic packaging is the process of protecting silicon chips so that they can be used in various electronic devices. Krusius possessed many patents for his work in this field.

He was the Director of the Joint Services Electronics Program and Director of the Electronic Packaging Program. He was also a member of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

In 1996, Krusius co-founded Rainbow Displays, Inc. (RDI) of New York. The company, a joint project between Cornell faculty and former IBM executives, worked to create “seamless” tiled display screens that could be scaled up to make very large proportion flat screen monitors and display panels.

Krusius designed and helped to develop much of the technology behind the company. Last year, Information Display magazine awarded its highest award, the Display of the Year Gold Award for 2002 to RDI for its display technology.

According to Pollock, Krusius accepted his terminal cancer — he only learned of it in October, but was still optimistic. He still had things to do.

“Not a trace of bitterness, he accepted it with grace,” Pollock said.

He went through chemotherapy and never gave up hope; he was still doing work and making plans a week before his death.

In his free time, Krusius enjoyed skiing and windsurfing. Although as Ast said, “Personally I don’t know when he did this. He was always working. He worked continuously around the clock.”

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has established a memorial website — http://people.ece.cornell.edu/krusius, where friends and family may share their feelings and memories of Prof. Krusius.

One student on the site, Darian Muresan PhD ’02 said, “[Krusius] emphasized teaching and learning more than grades. He was a man of integrity and a lot of passion for his students. He will be missed greatly.”

Another former student Hannu Tenhunen, now Dean of the School of Information Technology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), said, “Peter has inspired me and contributed to my life since my time as one of his students. When you have been standing on the shoulders of a giant, you can see longer.”

Funeral services were held on February 4, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ithaca, where Krusius was an active participant.

On February 24, at 4:30 PM a memorial service will be held at Anabel Taylor Chapel.

Krusius is survived by his wife of 33 years, Eeva, and their three sons, Paul, Otto, and Leo.

Archived article by Michael Margolis