Professor Laurence (Larry) Manning passed away February 9, 2015. His life revolved around Stanford. He was born in 1923 at Stanford where his mother, Esther Crandall Manning earned both her BA and MA (1903, 1905). His father, mathematics Professor William A. Manning, was also a Stanford alum (MS 1902, PhD 1904) and was a Stanford Faculty member for 40 years. His three uncles and four sisters attended Stanford, as did his three children: Scott (EE '77, MS '78), Carolyn ('78), and William ('81). Carolyn has carried on the tradition of working for the University by joining the Stanford Alumni Association staff in 1980; she currently serves as Vice President for Alumni Relations. Today, Larry's granddaughter Olivia ('18 ) is the fourth generation to attend Stanford and is considering a major in electrical engineering.
As a boy, Laurence loved hiking and spent summers in Yosemite. He played piano, loved photography, and was a fifth degree black belt and teacher in the martial art of ninjitsu. He was an avid fan of Stanford football and Women's and Men's Basketball, being a season ticket holder of all three for many decades.
Larry met and fell in love with Dallas Dillinger, who was a staff member in the EE department. They married in April, 1954. His three children and wife of 61 years survive Larry. His children remember their father's witty sense of humor and colorful children's stories.
Laurence Manning lived on Stanford's campus for 87 of his 91 years. As a young Stanford student, Manning found a mentor in Frederick E. Terman, who joined the EE faculty in 1925. During WWII, Terman engaged Manning to accompany him to Harvard's Radio Research Laboratory (RRL) to work on countermeasures and radar jamming.
Larry received his Electrical Engineering degrees (BS 1944, MS 1947 and PhD 1949) from Stanford and joined the EE faculty in 1948. His research focused mainly on radio propagation in the ionosphere. His work helped with the flight of missiles and eventually, space craft flight, as well as long-distance radio (wireless) communication. In the early 1950s he created, along with several other EE faculty, including O.G. Villard, Jr., and A.M. Peterson, Stanford's Radio Propagation Laboratory; and Stanford's Electronic Research Laboratory. Villard and Manning noted that their technique for measuring meteor speeds and heights by high frequency radio wave reflections was much simpler than other methods. They showed that far more meteors could be analyzed by radio than by optical or astronomical means. Their radio 'camera' was more than 100 times as sensitive as the human eye, and was perhaps 10,000 times as sensitive as cameras used by astronomers at the time.
Later Manning, as Chairman of EE's PhD Qualifying Examination Committee, oversaw the complete re-shaping of that examination. He noted that under the existing examination, which featured a written part, that the scores in the written part of that examination correlated perfectly with the students' GPA's and hence was a waste of effort for everyone. The other part of that examination was a series of three 30-minute oral examinations and here he determined that the examiner's scores after 10 minutes matched perfectly their scores after 30; so the last 20 minutes contributed nothing. But perhaps the most important thing he noted was that the scores between individual professors varied widely. This led to the adoption in about the mid 70's, of the system in which the examination consisted of 12-minute oral examinations 1 on 1 with ten different professors. This is the format still used. In 1982 Professor Manning received an outstanding service award for his work on the design and adoption of this examination system.
Professor Manning published "Bibliography of the Ionosphere–An annotated survey through 1960" in 1963 and "Electrical Circuits" in 1966 which was used for many years in undergraduate classes. His doctoral thesis was titled "The Deduction of the True Height of the Ionosphere". Manning was, for 40 years, a member of Radioscience Laboratory, which preceded the STAR (in which the 'R' is for Radioscience) Laboratory.
Professor Manning was appointed associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research from 1960–1963. He became an IEEE Life Fellow in 1962. Manning received emeritus status in April, 1988, and was recalled to the department from September, 1988 through August, 1997.