Former ECE Professor Anton Mavretic Mourned

By Emily Wade

Professor Anton “Tony” Mavretic (ECE), a gifted faculty member in the College of Engineering and research associate with Boston University’s Center for Space Physics, died on November 21 at the age of 84.
Mavretic came to BU in 1979 and joined the full-time faculty as an associate professor in 1980. During his time with the department, he taught courses such as Modern Active Circuit Design, Analog VLSI Design, and Electronics I and II.
“We were a nascent department back then, and Tony shepherded our electronics department through the early years,” recalled Professor Mark Horenstein (ECE). “I recall that one of his students often referred to him as ‘the God of electronics,’ and he knew his stuff. I learned a lot from just working with him.”
Mavretic was well regarded by students, receiving the Outstanding Professor of the Year award in 1981. In a 2011 interview, alumnus Mark Tubinis (EE ’81) observed, “His humor and generous sharing of his time helped me to achieve a lot at BU.”
Horenstein attributed Mavretic’s rapport with students to his experience in the field: “Tony had a very practical orientation because he came from industry—He was an engineer through and through, and he brought his understanding of engineering to the classroom.”
Before joining the BU faculty, Mavretic worked in industry and research, and was a project engineer at MIT’s Center for Space Research where his group developed the Plasma Science Experiment (PLS) for NASA’s Voyager spacecrafts, work that was recognized by NASA with a group achievement award in 1981. The impacts of his work with the Voyager mission are still being felt today.
Professor Josh Semeter (ECE), director of BU’s Center for Space Physics, said “The PLS continues to provide new data and new discoveries 42 years later, as Voyager 2 leaves the heliosphere and enters interstellar space.”
After 15 years on the ECE faculty, Mavretic left BU in 1995 to take an opportunity in the semiconductor industry, but returned 10 years later as a research associate in the Center for Space Physics working with Professor Emeritus Ted Fritz (ECE). During that time Professor Ron Knepper (ECE) remembered that his colleague continued to be an extremely knowledgeable and committed mentor.
He recalled, “I was mentoring a PhD student on his design of a MIROC chip in IBM 7WL technology, and Anton Mavretic used to come to our weekly meetings. His circuit design experience was invaluable in helping students in their PhD research work and circuit design work.”
Mavretic was also lauded in his native Slovenia. He was made a lifetime member of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2007 and received the Silver Order of Service in 2015 for his extraordinary contribution to science.
Mavretic’s drive to mentor students never wavered. Near the end of his life, he was still working with engineering professors and students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. As he reflected back on his colleague, Professor Horenstein recalled one of Mavretic’s favorite sayings: “It’s not good enough to understand the subject theoretically—you have to sweat it out on the bench.”

A funeral Mass was held for Professor Mavretic November 27, 2019 at Good Shepherd Parish in Wayland. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, and four grandchildren.