Doug Wilken, instructor and laboratory associate in the Department of Physics, passed away Jan. 28 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Wilken taught laboratory courses in optics, electronics and modern physics. He also provided all of the demonstration support for a variety of physics classes, managing a group of undergraduate students for assistance (his Demo Crew).
Wilken received an M.S. in physics in 1988 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1993, working in Professor Bryan Suits’ laboratory at Michigan Tech. His thesis was on a nuclear magnetic resonance study of surface oxides on aluminum metal particles. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Florida, he joined the corporate world for 20 years, working in Minneapolis. He returned to Michigan Tech in 2016.
Wilken was a gifted musician, playing piano and sharing his beautiful singing voice on many occasions, including at church and family gatherings. He loved to read and carry on discussions across a myriad of topics. His personal library of books spanned countless technical volumes, history, political science, biography and science fiction and fantasy novels — to name just a few of his favorite subjects.
One of Wilken’s true passions was sharing his knowledge of experimental physics with students. In this endeavor, he practiced continual self-examination and improvement, finding better ways of getting across main ideas and techniques that students would be able to utilize no matter where they found themselves later on in scientific and engineering disciplines.
His greatest passion, however, was spending time with all of his family — and in recent years, he especially enjoyed being “Grandpa” for his granddaughter for as much time as he could.
Doug will be deeply missed in the department. A memorial service is planned in Foley, Minnesota. Service dates and times are pending.