Dr. Douglas F. De Boer, P.E.

Professor of Engineering
Dordt College
498 Fourth Avenue NE
Sioux Center IA 51250

Photo: Dr. De Boer

Office: S237
Office Phone: 712-722-6245

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Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, 1995
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Thesis Title: Shaped Modulation in Noisy Fading Channels

M.S.E.E., Specializing in Integrated Circuit Design, 1978
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Campus

B.S.E.E., Course work in analog and digital electronics, 1977
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Campus

B.S. in Letters and Engineering
Combined curriculum program with U. of Michigan (above) 1977
Calvin College, Grand Rapids Michigan

Electronic Technician Certificate, 1972
Radio Electronic Television Schools, Wyoming Michigan

Academic Experience

Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa

Joined the faculty of the engineering department August 1984

Engineering Department Chair August 1990-91, organized successful initial ABET visit. (Initial: meaning Dordt's engineering program did not have prior accreditation.)

On leave-of-absence for graduate studies, August 1991- 1994

Engineering Department Chair August 1998 through July 2003

Chair of Dordt's Curriculum and Academic Policies Committee January 2001 through July 2006

Chair of Dordt's Faculty Status Committee August 2011 through August 2013

Western Christian High School, Hull, Iowa

Member of the Board, August 2015-Present
Member of the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Teaching assistant, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, Aug 1991-1994

Industrial Experience

Hewlett Packard Company, 1979-1984

Designed memory cell array used in 528 and 640 kilobit read only memory chips

Designed redundancy circuits for 128 and 164 kilobit random access memory chips. Click here to see a photo of the RAM chip I worked on. The actual size of the RAM chip is just under 1 cm square (about 3/8" square).

Designed memory mapping circuits for a 32-bit memory controller

The above projects were part of Hewlett Packard's FOCUS 32-bit microprocessor project. The resulting hardware provided the core functionality of the HP 9000 model 500 series of computers.

Designed a cell library for clock driver circuits

Engineering Interests

Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
Communication Systems, Modulation Theory,
Digital Signal Processing,
Digital Systems, Embedded Controllers

Society Memberships

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (Senior Member)
Eta Kappa Nu (Inactive Member)
Tau Beta Pi (Inactive Member)
Licensed Professional Engineer (Iowa, #20500)

Personal Testimony and Life Story


I have been a Christian all my life. I was born in a Christian family, attended Christian schools, and generally speaking, socialized in a Christian community. I have two younger sisters, Ruth and Lisa. Ruth is a school counselor, and formerly did computer programming as a consultant. Lisa is on the faculty at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Our mom, Agnes, lives in Grand Haven Michigan. Our dad passed way in 2013 (obituary).

For two and one-half years, when I was in second and third grades, my parents were missionaries. My dad was a missionary doctor stationed at Takum Christian Hospital in Nigeria. At that time I attended second and third grades at Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria. (Alumni page) Hillcrest is a Christian boarding school, mostly attended by missionary kids at the time I attended. Since then it has grown and now serves a more diversified group of students.

Upon returning to the United States, my family moved to Grand Rapids Michigan and I attended Christian day schools. I found that I did not exactly blend in with the U.S. culture however. My vocabulary and habits were no longer purely American. I had a hard time being "cool." It was not fun, but it has also prepared me somewhat to stand up for others when needed.

When I was a high-school and college student this was pretty much the end of my story. At the time I thought my story kind of short. But as the years went by, my story grew longer, and continues to get longer. The retrospective view I now have on my longer life story makes it easier to see God's providence for me. But God was there through my youth too. My perspective was just too short to see much of it.

I did not question my faith much until I attended the University of Michigan. There I met many other people and discovered the extent of skepticism that some people have for Christianity. (I happened to also live next to a Ba'hai temple that catered to university students.) The challenges I experienced at the University of Michigan solidified my faith.

In particular, I really appreciate my reformed roots and the catechisms. I know that we live in a fallen world, full of sin and misery. That explains the origins of troubles and difficulties we all live through. I know that I am personally delivered from my sins, and in response, I want to glorify God with all of my life—including my engineering career. The Lord has equipped me with various gifts, one of which is the ability to do engineering, especially electrical engineering. If I had to live out my vocation simply to earn money so that I could support my family and church, I would feel that my life was split into two parts. But I don't. I can use my engineering talent to bring healing and peace to our broken world, to witness to others through my work, and at the same time, the Lord graciously provides for my needs (including a salary to live on).

In the early 1980's I worked in the engineering industry at Hewlett Packard Company (HP). I worked for their "Desktop Computer Division" in Fort Collins Colorado, later renamed the "Systems and VLSI Technology Division." In my first project there I designed the cell array for a 640 kilo-bit read only memory (ROM). Other projects I worked on include redundancy programming circuits for a 128 kilo-bit random access memory (RAM). You can see a photo of that chip by clicking here. I also designed some standard cells for a library of clock-driver circuits. Most of these projects were for the FOCUS chip set. This was the company's internal name for the set of integrated circuits that formed the CPU and core architecture for the HP 9000 series 500 Unix workstation computers, introduced by HP in 1982. (For example, this HP9000/520 in the HP Computer Museum contains "HP Focus" chips I helped design,) When I left HP in 1984 to join the faculty at Dordt College, my division at HP was just beginning the work on the PA-RISC processor. They followed this in the 1990's by partnering with Intel to produce the Itanium processor based on HP's RISK technology.

I found that many of my colleagues at HP were also interested in doing their work in service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (There are Christians to work with in industry.) At the same time there is the powerful influence of corporate life—a focus on a broadly defined corporate concept of success. (not just profit—corporate success includes community service, a sense of loyalty to customers, employees and business associates, etc.) As a Christian, I sometimes felt strongly called to put my oar in the water and try to participate in setting the direction of that corporate ship, even if only on a small issue. I believe Christians are called to serve and give direction in our world, but we must do this with humility and respect for others since we are all sinners.

In August of 1984 I joined the Engineering Department at Dordt College. The decision to leave Hewlett Packard Company was not black and white. In favor of staying at HP was the excitement of working with state-of-the-art technology in a well respected company. In favor of Dordt was a sense that I had a special combination of skills and a sympathy for what Dordt wanted to do. After arriving at Dordt, I participated in the initial development of courses in digital logic, microprocessors, and communication systems in the then-new electrical emphasis of the engineering major.

I have been active in the local section of the IEEE as the newsletter editor for the Siouxland branch of the IEEE in 1990 and 1995-2002. In 1996 I was named the "IEEE Siouxland Section Engineer-of- the-Year" for contributions I made to the section as newsletter editor. In August of 2002 I became the chair of the local section of the IEEE. As Chair I initiated an annual Leadership Development Workshop for engineers in the profession. In January 2004 my term as chair of the section expired—the term is limited by the bylaws of the section, but I was glad to have been of service and will continue to participate in professional activities. Professional societies, like the IEEE, are another avenue where I believe Christians have a calling to participate.

In August 1991 I took a three-year leave-of-absence to work on my Ph. D. I did my research on shaped modulation, which is a way to reduce the bandwidth requirement of digital modulation while simultaneously introducing some forward error-correction capability into the signal. Forward error-correction allows perfect recovery of the information in a corrupted digital signal. For example, an audio CD will usually play perfectly even if there are some minor scratches on it because the data was recorded with a forward error correction code. In August 1994 I returned to Dordt to resume teaching and to finish writing my Ph. D. dissertation. I finished that work in December of 1995.

Research like that is especially rewarding. It brought me closer to God. Modulation theory is quite a mathematical field—and mathematics is the way we represent our understanding of one aspect of God's creation. The new insights I discovered about shaped modulation therefore gave me a renewed appreciation for God's faithfulness to us. It is not obvious to me that my original arrangement of a bunch of theory and equations should be so predictive of what actually happens. God must faithfully maintain the order in the universe to to make mathematical theories so useful! I was the first person in the world to discover some of the relationships in nature that God designed and created. I could talk a lot more about doing basic research like that. . .   Ask me about it some day!

In 1996 my first wife, Susan, died of cancer. An experience like that would make anyone ask, "what is life all about anyway?" I had to fall back on my faith. The shorter Westminster Catechism's first question and answer is:

Q1: What is the chief end of man?
A1: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.
Susan did glorify God in her earthly life. She did so as a wife, mother, artist, and friend of others. I, along with all other living Christians, am likewise called to glorify God in all aspects of living.

In 1998 I married Marge. She grew up in Grand Rapids Michigan and went to the same high school I did, Grand Rapids Christian High, although we did not know each other then. She lost her first husband to a heart attack in 1994.

I have two daughters, Naomi and Kim, from my first marriage. Both of them are graduates of Unity Christian High School in Orange City Iowa and of Dordt College. Naomi also has masters degree in fine arts from Iowa State University. She now does artwork on commission (see her website), works part-time at the Octagon Center for the Arts helping out with exhibits, and with her husband sells flowers on the weekends at the Ames farmer's market. Naomi is also a member of Christians in the Visual Arts. Kim is pursuing a master's degree in Environmental Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. Kim also has a blog. My wife, Marge has four grown children from her first marriage. Two of her children, Glenn and Keith, are married and live near Doon, Iowa. Both of them work at the Doon Elevator Company. The other two, Lori and Lisa, are married and live in West Michigan. Both of them are nurses. Lori used to work for Kent County Public Health but is now a homemaker. Lisa works at a hospital in Grand Rapids. In addition to our children, there are 11 grandchildren on Marge's side of our family. You may view some (old) family photos on our family web page.

In my career, it is my desire to lead my students (students who also find themselves gifted with engineering talent) to be first-rate engineers in Christ's service. I expect to offer them a combination of breadth and depth in their studies that helps them ground their engineering talent in their Christian faith. Engineering is a delightfully multifaceted career field in which there are many ways to help people solve technical problems. Before the fall, there would have been engineering work in order to develop the potential of the creation. For example, transportation technologies are possible because of the resources provided in the creation. Now, after the fall, Christians can also relieve some of the suffering caused by the fall. For example, hearing aids and artificial prosthesis mitigate the effects of age and disease. I greatly appreciate Dordt College as a place where I have found a concentration of Christians and resources that makes me an effective servant. I hope my students can say along with me, that here in the engineering department at Dordt we are glorifying Christ, and every day learning to do that better.

Selected Publications


D.F. De Boer, "Using Design Hierarchy in Digital Logic to Illustrate the Scientific Method as a Human Invention" Proceedings of the 2013 Christian Engineering Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, June 2013, pp 99 – 106.

D.F. De Boer, "Peer Grading: Sometimes It Should Be Done" Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato Minnesota, October 2010.

D.F. De Boer, "Typography Too," Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Iowa State University, Ames Iowa, October 2003.

D.F. De Boer, R.E. Ziemer, "Power and Bandwidth Efficiency of Shaped Modulation by Decomposition," MILCOM 96 Conference Proceedings, October. 1996.

D.F. De Boer, R.E. Ziemer, "Power Bandwidth Properties of Shaped BPSK," Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Allerton Conference on Communication, Control, and Computing, September 28- 30, 1994, Monticello, Illinois.

D. De Boer, "A Biased View of Things," Christian Engineer's Association Newsletter, Autumn, 1994.

D.F. De Boer, "Polysilicon Link Fusing and Detection Circuit," Hewlett Packard Journal, August, 1983, p. 23.

Reviews of projects I worked on at Hewlett Packard appear in these trade magazines:

"Destiny Milestone," EDN Magazine, Feb. 1981, p63.

"Over a Million Devices Make up 32-bit CPU and Support Chips," Electronics Magazine, Feb. 10, 1981, p39.

"ISSCC_The Main Events: VLSI Processors, Fast Static RAM's, Precise Linear IC's," Electronics Magazine, February 24, 1981, p138.

D.F. De Boer, "An Investigation of the Lifting Ability of a Crane," Unpublished Manuscript, 1960. Available: html

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(This page last updated on 2/16/2016)