TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Obituary for Professor Herbert Grünbacher

  • By Hermann Kopetz / Theresa Aichinger-Fankhauser (edt.)
  • 2022-10-12

With great sadness, we bid farewell to our long-time colleague, mentor, and friend.

Obituary for Professor Herbert Grünbacher
Picture: privat

The Institute of Computer Engineering, TU Wien Informatics, and TU Wien mourn em.o.Univ.Prof. Dr.Dipl.Ing. Herbert Grünbacher, who passed away on October 1, 2022.

With Herbert Grünbacher, we not only lose an outstanding scientist and technician – for whom linking theoretical knowledge with industrial practice in teaching and research was a particular objective – but also a wonderful person and a reliable friend.

Professor Herbert Grünbacher was born on January 23, 1945, in Jochberg in Tyrol, graduated with honors from HTL Innsbruck, and after completing his studies in Electrical Engineering at TU Graz in 1971, worked as a university assistant to Professor W. Riedler at TU Graz’s Institute for Telecommunications and Wave Propagation until 1982. During this time, Herbert Grünbacher shaped essential courses at the institute and led the Austrian contribution to the electronics project STELLA of the European Space Agency (ESA). In 1979, he completed his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at TU Graz with distinction.

In May 1982, Herbert Grünbacher joined AMI, a newly founded joint venture between the US-based American Micro Systems and the Austrian Voest Alpine in Premstätten near Graz. He was one of their first employees, namely number 18. After extensive training in microelectronic circuit design (IC Design) at the development center of American Micro Systems in California, Herbert Grünbacher led the establishment of a corresponding IC Design department in Premstätten. He was promoted to Director of IC Design and Software Development in 1984.

In 1986, TU Wien offered a full Professorship for Computer Engineering. Herbert Grünbachers profound theoretical knowledge, broad industry and teaching experience in the field of Computer Engineering deeply impressed the appointment committee. As a new member of the small group of computer scientists at that time, Herbert Grünbacher contributed significantly to developing the teaching and research endeavors of the future Faculty of Computer Science. Some of his outstanding achievements include the development of a curriculum and the establishment of research activities in the field of computer architecture and IC Design.

During this phase, I had a unique opportunity to work closely with Herbert. The Time-Triggered Protocol (TTP) communication scheme designed at our institute required the development of an innovative communication controller that would support not only the transmission of data but also the establishment of a fault-tolerant time base. When solving such a complex task, not only technical expertise but also social skills are of crucial importance. With his calm, no-nonsense demeanor and keen intellect, Herbert has brilliantly handled every arising problem. He and his team succeeded in developing a prototype hardware TTP controller that performed all functions within the given schedule. This TTP controller was successfully used in several European research projects.

Herbert Grünbacher was always looking for new challenging tasks. In January 2006, a manager for a newly founded Competence Center for Automotive and Industrial Electronics (KAI) was needed in Villach. Herbert was intrigued and took a leave of absence from TU Wien for several years to be able to take on this challenging task.

In 2010, Herbert Grünbacher returned to the Institute of Computer Engineering at TU Wien Informatics. Based on his experience and personality, his appointment as head of the institute was obvious. He ran the institute with his characteristic aplomb from November 2010 until the end of 2011. In October 2013, he retired after a long and successful career as an emeritus professor.

With him, TU Wien loses a renowned professor, and our institute grieves a leader who has significantly shaped its fortunes.

em.Prof. Dr.Dr.h.c. Hermann Kopetz, Institute for Computer Engineering

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