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Guido Semenza

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Guido Semenza (1868-1929)


1930 Obituary [1]

GUIDO SEMENZA was born in London on the 19th December, 1868, and died at Milan on the 7th November, 1929.

He went to Italy at an early age and in 1893 graduated as an engineer from the Polytechnic High School of Milan, gaining an electrical engineering diploma at the Montefiore Electrotechnical Institute at Liege a year later.

He devised and put into operation the first hydro-electric plant at Paderno for the Italian Edison Co. of Milan, this work being carried out shortly after the famous experimental three-phase transmission between Lauffen and Frankfort in 1891, and the first large-scale transmission system between Tivoli and Rome in 1892. Power was transmitted from the Paderno station at 13 600 volts, three-phase, and as no machinery which could work at such a pressure was then available, Semenza had himself to design suitable equipment.

This pioneer work made his name famous in the electrical world, and his advice on similar problems of power supply was sought both in Italy and abroad. He also made a special study of electric communication and traction problems, and the Italian Government and many public and private bodies obtained the advantage of his experience.

In addition to his engineering abilities he was a man of deep scientific insight and was also keenly interested in philosophy and music. He published many papers on important electrical engineering problems, and in 1924 he delivered the 15th Kelvin Lecture before the Institution, taking as his subject Kelvin's Conductor Law and its adaptation to the problems of the generation and distribution of electrical energy. As president of the Italian Electrotechnical Association he did much to extend its influence and to link it up with similar associations in other countries.

From 1923 to 1927 he was president of the International Electrotechnical Commission, and during this period presided over the New York and Bellagio General Meetings of the Commission. In 1929 he was awarded the Faraday Medal of the Institution, and the same year he was the recipient of a presentation from the Italian Electrotechnical Association.

Owing to failing, health the last years of his life were devoted to literary rather than to scientific work. His death means to the electrical world the loss of a far-seeing pioneer and powerful driving force, and to Italy the passing of one of her most devoted citizens.

He was elected a Foreign Member of the Institution in 1900, became a Member in 1903, and was for many years Local Hon. Secretary for Italy.


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Sources of Information

  1. 1930 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries