Department Head: 1935-1954
Mervin S. Coover served not only as the EE department’s chair from 1935 to 1954, but also served in many other leadership roles in the College of Engineering. During World War II, Coover oversaw Iowa State’s Electrical Naval Training School. He also was acting head of the Industrial Engineering Department (1955 to 1956), associate dean of the College of Engineering (1956 to 1957), temporary head of the Civil Engineering Department (1957 to 1959), and acting dean for the College of Engineering (1958 to 1959).
Additionally, Coover oversaw Iowa State’s merger of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) and Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) into one organization in 1948, and was instrumental in the 1963 national merger of the AIEE and IRE into what’s now the IEEE. He served as a president of AIEE (1956 to 1957) and director of the Iowa Engineering Society. As the AIEE’s president, he organized the first technical conference by the transatlantic cable, which linked scientists and engineers in New York City, Montreal, and London. He actively promoted the AC Network Analyzer, the Computations Center, and participated on a special committee to establish television and FM radio broadcasting stations on campus.
To honor Coover’s service and dedication to the university, the Electrical Engineering Building was renamed Coover Hall in 1969. He also received the Faculty Citation in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Administration and was named Dean Emeritus in 1959.
He received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1914) and received an honorary doctorate from that university in 1957. Prior to coming to Iowa State, Coover served in World War I. He worked at New York Central Railroad from 1914 to 1945, Montana Power Company (1915 to 1917), Hutchison Power and Light Company (1917), and Wilson Machine Company (1917), and later became a professor at the University of Colorado from 1919 to 1935. During his summers in Colorado, he worked for General Electric, the City of Denver, and the Public Service Company of Colorado.
According to a newspaper article, Coover’s wife Francis was injured while shopping in New York City on January 26, 1947. She was struck by a falling body from the Empire State Building.