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Wouk, Victor (Electrical engineer)



  • Existence: 1919 - 2005


Background: Caltech alumnus (MS, 1940; PhD, 1942).
Biographical/Historical Description: VICTOR WOUK was born in the Bronx, in New York City, in 1919. He received his bachelor's degree from Columbia College (1939) and his master's (1940) and doctoral degrees (1942) from the California Institute of Technology, in electrical engineering. His subsequent work and research have been extraordinarily diverse-ranging from processing frozen shrimp to extending incandescent lamp life-although most of his time and energy have been devoted to the development of hybrid motor vehicles and the use of semiconductors in electric vehicles. In the course of his career, he has been granted numerous patents, expertly managed several successful businesses and consulted for such organizations as the U.S. Department of Energy, MIT, and NASA. Victor is the younger brother of novelist Herman Wouk.
Biographical/Historical Collection Notes: Oral history, 2004: In this 77-page interview with Judith Goodstein, Wouk recalls his years as a student at Caltech, with reminiscences of R. Millikan, S. Mackeown, W. Pickering, R. Sorensen and others; recalls also the war years at Caltech (WWII). He describes his career, primarily in the development of electric and hybrid vehicles, including problems in relations with government officials.

Papers, 1932-2004: The papers of Victor Wouk represent the notable diversity of his career, but most of the material in the collection relates to his work on electric and hybrid vehicles, and in particular the day-to-day operations of his two principal companies, Victor Wouk Associates and Petro-Electric Vehicles. Correspondence between Wouk and other businesses-engineering firms, automotive manufacturers-accounts for at least one-third of his papers and provides a good window on the life of a research scientist/entrepreneur. The collection also contains letters between Victor and his brother, Herman Wouk.

Collection size: 32 linear ft.

Found in 12 Collections and/or Records:

Victor and Herman Wouk Luncheon

Identifier: 2004-00283

Victor and Herman Wouk Luncheon

Identifier: 2004-00286

Victor Wouk Papers 1934-2004

Identifier: 2002-00599

Victor Wouk Papers

Identifier: 10208-MS
Abstract Papers of Victor Wouk (1919-2005). Electrical engineer. After graduating from Caltech (PhD 1942), Wouk devoted himself largely to the development of hybrid and electric motor vehicles. The range of his activities is wide, and he has consulted for several institutions and the government on a variety of issues. His papers consist of 70 boxes and include correspondence, publications (print and manuscript versions), lectures and seminars, and expert witness testimonies.
Dates: 1934-2004