Development & Alumni Relations Office 

J A Carson Stewart, BSc 1958, PhD Electrical Engineering 1962 (died 30 December 2017, aged 80).


Obituary kindly provided by Tara Brooks (daughter), Lecturer in Construction Project Management at Queen's and the family of Carson Stewart.

Professor Emeritus Carson Stewart died on 30 December in Belfast City Hospital. A Service of Thanksgiving was held in Knockbreda Parish Church following his cremation.

James Alexander Carson Stewart was born in Greenisland, County Antrim in March 1937, the only child of Alec and Betty Stewart. He attended Greenisland Primary School and the Boys Model and was in the first year to sit the 11+ exam which he passed. From there he went on to Belfast Royal Academy where he thrived, captaining the first XI cricket team and playing scrum half for the rugby first XV.

He was able to pay something back to the school when he served on the Board of Governors for 16 years, one of which was as Warden (chairman). He was also a keen scout and was chosen as one of two boys to represent Northern Ireland at the Coronation in 1953.

Carson Stewart read Physics at Queen’s gaining a first in Physics in 1958 but chose to do his PhD in Electrical Engineering under the guidance of Peter Clarricoates. During this period, he spent some time at the Navy Research Establishment in Hertfordshire. He was awarded his PhD from Queen’s in 1962.  

After a brief spell working in Short Brothers, followed by a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Queen’s University Kingston, Ontario (1964), he returned to Queen’s to work with Roy Boothroyd. He then went back to Canada in 1976 for a sabbatical year in the University of Ottawa, where Roy Boothroyd was then Head of Department.

Carson worked in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at Queen’s from 1964 until his retirement in 2002. He became Head of Department in 1991, leading the only department in the University to obtain top grade in both Teaching and Research in the 1996 Research Assessment Exercise.

Made a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology in 1992 Carson was a Member of the Royal Irish Academy where he chaired the Committee on Radio Science. For many years, the Committee organised a highly successful bi-annual Colloquium on Radio Science that drew together participants from all over Ireland.

He was also a member of the RIA Committee on Engineering Sciences. Most prestigiously in 2002 he was made a Fellow of the American IEEE for “Leadership in Education and Academic Research in the field of Microwave and Millimetre Wave Devices and Circuits”. The research group he headed helped to pave the way for components which were later used for mobile phones, vehicle anti-collision radar, airport passenger security and other devices.

Described as a brilliant teacher and PhD supervisor, Carson inspired and motivated all his students but always remained approachable.

He loved to visit the family cottage in Donegal where he would sit at the front of the cottage overlooking Sheephaven Bay and Muckish Mountain. Sadly, he was not able to fulfil his promise to climb it one more time.

Carson is survived by his wife Carole, son Nial, daughters Melanie and Tara and by his grandchildren Peter, Cathy, Niamh, Rory, Robyn and Finn.

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