Lehigh alumnus Bruce D. Fritchman ’60 ’61 ’63G ’67 PhD, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering and a former department chair, passed away on December 9, 2022, at the age of 84.

Fritchman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics as well as a BS, MS, and PhD in electrical engineering from Lehigh, joined the university faculty in 1969. 

Prior to his career in academia, Fritchman worked in advanced engineering and research in the Communication and Electronics Division of Philco-Ford Corporation. His area of focus included the application of coding and statistical detection techniques in communication channels having memory. He also managed a laboratory responsible for the development of advanced data transmission techniques. 

At Lehigh, Fritchman rose from assistant professor to associate professor (1972) and became a full professor in 1981. He taught courses in information technology and digital signal processing, authored many journal articles, and was a consultant to several large corporations. He was chair of the ECE department from 1998 until his retirement in 2008.

During his tenure, he also served as the university’s assistant vice president of computing and communication services (1986-1995). He helped develop (and served as Lehigh’s representative to) the Pennsylvania Research and Economic Partnership network (PREPnet), a high-speed data communications network implemented by a consortium of research institutions in the state, with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Bell of Pennsylvania. 

In a November 1991 Brown and White article detailing a multimillion-dollar joint venture between Lehigh and IBM to install new computers across campus, Fritchman was credited with seeing the need to move away from the use of workstations coupled with larger mainframes and develop more sophisticated, high-speed network connections. 

Fritchman was a member of IEEE and its honor society, Eta Kappa Nu. He served as reviewer for IEEE Transactions on Communications and IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, and was a former vice president of the Philadelphia section of the IEEE Information Theory Society. 

Read his full obituary here.

Bruce D. Fritchman

Bruce D. Fritchman ’60 ’61 ’63G ’67 PhD, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, is pictured in this 1980 photo from the Lehigh Archives. Credit: Lehigh University Digital Library