Norman M. Vrana, MEE ’51, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, who taught courses in digital-computer design at Cornell from the 1960s to the early 1990s, died at his home Nov. 9; he was 93.
At Cornell, Vrana was responsible for overseeing the development of the computer facilities used in the teaching mission of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, including evaluating needs and specifying, acquiring and expediting installation, maintenance and updates of PCs, workstations and software.
Born Feb. 16, 1920, in Hudson Heights, N.J., Vrana worked for ADT while going to night school at New York University, studying math and science. After garnering additional industrial experience with Autonetics, Hewlett-Packard and the Foxboro Co., Vrana moved his young family to Ithaca in 1949 to pursue a master's degree in electrical engineering at Cornell. He became an instructor that year, eventually becoming a full professor.
He taught theory and laboratory in circuits, measurements, machinery, electronics, signal transmission and control theory until 1959, and then taught theory and laboratory in computer engineering. In 1973 he designed a laboratory course where students assembled computers from chips integrated into a briefcase, which became known as the “Vrana Box” on campus.
His consulting was in the areas of analog, hybrid and digital computer simulation, electronics, communication theory, and digital systems design and analysis.
He is survived by his wife, Ethel Vrana, and numerous family members. Memorial services will be held Saturday, Nov. 23, at noon at Anabel Taylor Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association.