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In memoriam: Dan Jones, motor industry icon

Oct. 1, 2020
Some individuals leave indelible marks

It was with sadness we learned of the death of Daniel B. Jones, president of Incremotion Associates. Dan died on September 1, 2020, at his Thousand Oaks, California, home, surrounded by family.

Many of the condolences received by the family describe Dan as an industry icon. Dan has participated in the electric motor industry for more than 60 years. His involvement started with his mother who was a production manager for an electric motor company in the 1950s, making Dan a second generation electric motor man. Dan was recognized as an international authority on electric motors and motion control.

He was hired by the Korean government to teach engineers motor design. He was known, taught and had clients in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, working with engineers from India, the Middle East and all over Europe, as well as North America and South America.

He authored more than 200 technical articles and papers covering technical designs, market trends in electric motors and motion control. He was a valuable contributor to industry trade shows and gatherings. He was often asked to chair technical sessions in trade shows around the world. He rarely declined.

The list of his memberships in professional organizations, where he was often a board member, is impressive:

  • Until recently a member ASME, member IEEE, member AIME
  • Advisory Board PCIM Exhibition and Conference Member 1985 – current
  • PCIM European Exhibition and Conference Member 1989 – current
  • AIME President 1998-1999
  • MCA Board of Director’s Member 2007 – current
  • Member of Board of Directors for AIME 1994 – current
  • Advisory Board Member for SMIC (Japan) Conference 1992 – 2002
  • Member of Board of Directors of SMMA (Small Motors and Motion Association) 1999 – 2007
  • Member of NEMA Technical Standards Review Committee for Servos and Step Motors 1997 – current
  • Member of UK Drives and Controls Conference Advisory Board 1999 – 2002
  • Member of UL 1004 Standards Technical Panel 2004 – current.

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He was a rarity in the industry who knew the technology well enough to design motors, as well as understand how motors worked in a broad range of applications and markets.

He held positions of chief engineer, as well as vice president of marketing, for motor companies. Early in his career Dan designed seven motors that went to Mars in the NASA Viking exploratory mission. When the spacecraft landed and the legs were reluctant to extend, NASA called Dan to Georgia where he devised a routine to manipulate his motors, in real-time, to free them after the long journey to Mars.

He was the project engineer for the docking motor to couple the LEM to the Command module on Apollo missions. As a consultant he stood in as chief engineer when companies needed help, quickly.

As a consultant and employee, his mark is on more than 150 important motor designs. He was an avid softball player in to his early 70s. He was deservedly proud of his abilities to help his seniors team win on the field.

He traveled all over the United States to play competitively. He was part of history and Bible study groups participating with his many friends and church congregants. His contributions to the industry are legendary.

But Dan's most extraordinary contribution was his openness and generosity to everyone who asked for his help. He willingly and enthusiastically became a teacher and mentor to up-and-coming engineers. He helped and advised seasoned engineers looking to start up their own consultancies, even as they would become competitors to his own consulting business.

The Japanese said Dan had a “wide face” in the electric motor industry, an indication of someone well-known and well-respected in an industry. He was devoted to his family and his faith. He never had a harsh word for anyone. He was a fine man and truly an industry icon. He will be sorely missed. Dan died of natural causes. He was 84 and is survived by his wife Janice of 60 years and his children Matt, Tom and Sue, 12 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He will join his daughter Jennifer in heaven.

I’ve enjoyed more than 40 productive years as a collaborator and friend of Dan.

ALSO READ: What you need to know about motor selection

About the author: George Gulalo

George Gulalo is president of MTT Technical Services in Los Angeles. Contact him at [email protected] or 310/ 674-3445.

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