Remembering electrical engineering professor emeritus Markus Zahn

Markus Zahn SB ’67, SM ’68, EE ’69, ScD ’70, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, passed away at the age of 75 March 13. Zahn is remembered for his electrodynamics research and writings, teaching prowess, and renown as a student advisor.

Zahn earned his undergraduate and doctorate degrees at MIT before becoming a professor at the University of Florida. He joined the faculty at MIT in 1980 and retired in 2015.

According to Zahn’s obituary, his research interests in electrodynamics ranged “from the theoretical to the practical.” This included high-voltage charge transport and breakdown phenomena in dielectrics; battery technology; applying magnetic processes for oil cleanup; detecting buried land mines; and charged, polarizable, and magnetic fluids.

Zahn also conducted research on how electricity moves “through different mediums” and penned a seminal textbook in the field, Electromagnetic Field Theory: A Problem Solving Approach.

For Zahn’s contributions to his field, he became an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellow in 1993 and received the Paris Sciences Scholar ESPCI (École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles) Medal in 2000.

Zahn has taught 6.013 (Electromagnetics and Applications), 6.641 (Electromagnetic Fields, Forces, and Motion), 6.642 (Continuum Electromechanics), and 6.UAT (Preparation for Undergraduate Advanced Project).

Zahn “collected stamps and enjoyed bicycling, baseball, good food and time with his family,” his obituary states. He and his wife Linda “shared a love of travel and were able to visit much of the world.” He is survived by his wife, four children, and seven grandchildren.

Zahn’s online memorial can be found at