He was a strong advocate of UCLA creating a degree program in bioengineering, and provided insight for the development of the bioengineering curriculum. UCLA Engineering launched its Bioengineering Department in 2002.
Couvillon was born in Los Angeles in 1940, and quickly showed an interest in mechanical projects. By the time he was 12 he was an avid ham radio operator, knew Morse code and had received his first Federal Communications Commission license. The first in his family to attend college, he earned his bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 1962 and completed his master’s in electrical engineering at UCLA Engineering in 1966, working as a surveyor at the California Department of Highways to help pay his way.
He then joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where he worked on digital telemetry and command systems for an early Viking Mars Probe and the Voyager Deep Space Probe.
In 1970 he moved to Salt Lake City, where he worked on an artificial heart program at the University of Utah and became a research-and-development contractor for the Federal Drug Administration’s Bureau of Medical Devices. Seven years later he moved to Concord, Mass., where he helped develop medical technology for Arthur D. Little and later Johnson & Johnson. In 1987 he joined Boston Scientific, where he served as vice president for research and development. He stayed at Boston Scientific until his retirement in 2007. Couvillon is the inventor or co-inventor on more than 30 medical devices patented in the U.S.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, the former Mary Louise Bulich, as well as two children and five grandchildren.
“Al was a dedicated alum and contributor to UCLA Engineering, especially the Bioengineering Department,” said UCLA Engineering Dean Vijay K. Dhir. “We owe him a great debt of gratitude, and our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to be sent to the Bioengineering Fund at UCLA School of Engineering, c/o the UCLA Engineering Office of External Affairs, 7256 Boelter Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095; or the Cuttyhunk Yacht Club in South Dartmouth, MA.