MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XIX No. 2
November / December 2006
Student-Driven Activities at MIT
Financial Foundation for MIT's Future
Undergraduate Education Reconsidered
Stephen J. Madden, Jr.
MIT and Singapore
Teaching and Challenging Engineers . . .
to Engineer
Adèle Naudé Santos
Written in Pencil; February Lunch
First Response Education:
New Orleans Comes to MIT
Do MIT Students Ever Sleep?
The Implication of Mega-Partnerships
for MIT Faculty
Helping Students Become Better Writers
A Century of MIT at a Glance
MIT Faculty and Students (1900-2007)
Printable Version

In Memoriam

Stephen J. Madden, Jr.

Stephen J. Madden, Jr.

Stephen J. Madden, Jr., a retired professor who spent his entire 52-year professional career at MIT, died on October 7, 2006. He was 70.

Throughout his life, Madden was deeply fascinated by the sea and the sky. Much of his research involved celestial navigation, flight, fluid mechanics, and gravity. At the start of his career, as part of the Apollo missions, he was responsible for determining the precise location of the Moon throughout the mission, allowing the deployment and redocking of the lunar module to the mother ship.

In his later work, more detailed gravitational measurements were used to develop a better understanding of the shape of the Earth. His interests in geodesy and radar converged in early research on the GPS system, performed at Draper Laboratory. One of his last research projects was for the LIGO system, designed to detect gravity waves from distant supernovas yielding clues to the fundamental structure of the universe.

Stephen was also a gifted teacher. He loved to encourage his students' curiosity.

Throughout his career, he taught in the Departments of Mathematics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Earth and Planetary Sciences at MIT, supervising more than a dozen graduate theses. Even after retiring from Draper Laboratory in 1995, he continued to teach, and it provided him with great satisfaction to see his students take off with a problem.

Fond remembrances by colleague Leonard S. Wilk (SB, SM, MIT ’52) include the following: “As a graduate student, Steve worked at the then Instrumentation Lab, most significantly on the Apollo Program - celestial and orbital mechanics. He also practiced his hobby of magic, giving stage performances with Bernie Whitman. He was very adept and was true to the profession in that he never revealed the secrets of the trade.”

Wilk continues, “After retirement, Steve formed The Analemma Associates to consult with his expertise in computers and computer programming. This name came from his lifelong interest in sundials and the Equation of Time. Steve was a devotee of Chinese cooking and a long time patron of The Little Eating Place, Mary Chung's, and The Royal East. He would delight in ordering his favorite soup in Chinese.”

Although his interests ranged far and wide, Madden always remained close to his roots, in Newton Lower Falls, at MIT, and on Cape Cod.  His greatest love was his family, especially his five grandchildren. He was also a kind and gentle friend to many, and he was always eager to hear a story or share a joke. His sense of humor, his love of life, and his great passion for learning were freely shared and widely enjoyed.

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