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Dayton Engineer

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In Memoriam: Robert Wolff ‘56, ‘59

Robert “Bob” Wolff, UD alumnus and engineering professor emeritus, passed away Friday, May 24, at the age of 88.

He was born in Dayton in 1936 and graduated from Chaminade Catholic High School in 1953. Bob earned an associate degree in mechanical engineering in 1956 and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and geology in 1959 from the University of Dayton, and an MBA in industrial management from Xavier University in 1967. 

He began his service in the Army as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Engineer Corps in 1959 and served until 1971. He also served as faculty adviser to the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at UD.

In 1958, he joined the UD faculty and was promoted to professor in 1982, where he co-developed the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. He worked to establish the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program later known as the Global Manufacturing Systems Engineering Technology program and served as program coordinator until his retirement in 2015 after 56 years of dedicated teaching. He was instrumental in developing the Advanced Integrated Manufacturing (AIM) Center, a joint partnership between UD and Sinclair Community College.

During his long and accomplished career at UD, he touched the lives of thousands of undergraduates, helping them develop skills for success as engineers, professionals and engaged citizens. He advocated for women and minorities to enter the field of engineering and worked tirelessly to recruit high school and international students to bring global perspectives to engineering. He was responsible for procuring significant grants and funding totaling over $1 million for the development of new courses, laboratory facilities and program curriculums. 

Bob was an active leader in a variety of professional engineering societies and founded the UD student chapters of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Society of Plastics Engineers and served as their program adviser.

“In 1984, a faculty opening occurred and I was invited to apply for the position,” said Phil Doepker, professor emeritus, past student and longtime friend of Bob. “During that interview I was given a tour by Bob Wolff of the facilities in the Mechanical Engineering Building. It was amazing that here was the teacher that taught me machine shop practices, and 20 years later he had equipped the machine shop with state of the art equipment. Three months later I had the office next to Bob on the 4th floor of Kettering Labs.”

Bob humbly accepted numerous awards including the UD Professor Emeritus Award, the UD School of Engineering's Faculty Award of Excellence in Service, the SME Award of Merit, the UD Epsilon Delta Tau Distinguished Service Award and the Department of the Army's Commander's Award for Public Service. He was inducted into the UD Army ROTC Wall of Fame.

“Over the years, I learned a lot from Bob. He welcomed students to his office who were in need of help and like it says in his obituary he was always generous with his time, to ‘lend a hand or a listening ear,” Doepker said.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, May 31, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, corner of Xenia Avenue and Allen Street. Burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery. Family will receive friends Thursday, May 30, from 4-8 p.m. at Westbrock Funeral Home, 1712 Wayne Ave. 

Read Bob’s full obituary.

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