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Jack B. Kuipers (1921-) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Jack B. Kuipers (1921-)

Historical Note:

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jack B. Kuipers (1921- ) was the oldest of eight children born to Berend and Grace (née Werkeman) Kuipers.  He majored in mathematics and physics at Calvin College and earned a BS in electrical engineering and MS in automatic control engineering from the University of Michigan, and studied radar technology at MIT and Harvard University.

He served with the US Army Signal Corps during WW II and worked for various contractors in the aerospace industry during the 1950s and on the staff of the University of Michigan in the 1960s teaching courses in control and information theory.  He joined the faculty of Calvin College Mathematics Department in 1967 and was appointed professor emeritus at Calvin in 1986.

The focus of his research has been on guidance systems, particularly SPASYN (an acronym for space synchronizer) which used radio signals to determine the relationship between two objects moving through three-dimensional space. This technology has been adapted to guidance and targeting systems, air traffic control, and virtual reality. He authored Quaternions and Rotation Sequences: A Primer with Applications to Orbits, Aerospace, and Virtual Reality that has gone through many printings and became the standard reference for aerospace engineering.

He also consulted for numerous companies. For his work, Kuipers earned eight patents in the United States and nine in other countries. In 2002, he was named a distinguished alumnus by Calvin College.

Kuipers married Lois Belle Holtrop (1925- ), the daughter of Corneal and Jennie (née Kruizenga) Holtrop.  They have five children: Benjamin, Emily, Joel, Alison, and Lynne.

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