Thursday November 20, 2008

'When You Enjoy What You're Doing ...'

Friends toast engineering technology professor Bob Wolff's first 50 years on the faculty at a reception Friday, Nov. 21. In his time at UD, which started long before he joined the faculty, he's grown less mischievous, but he's as industrious as ever.

Engineering technology professor Bob Wolff, who celebrated his 50th anniversary on the UD faculty in September, blames his heritage for his unfailing commitment to his work, his family and the University.

"I'm German," he said. "I've got a good work ethic."

Friends, family, fellow faculty, and current and former students will toast his loyalty, his wit and his sense of duty at a reception at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, in the Innovation Center of Kettering Laboratories.

Wolff's history at UD is much longer than his faculty appointment. He grew up in the 1942 house his parents built at 1912 Trinity Ave. He walked to Holy Angels for school, and when lunchtime came, he hopped on a passing freight car and rode it the quarter-mile or so home along the tracks that once ran between campus and the NCR neighborhood. On the Saturdays of Flyer football games, Wolff and his friends ran through the storm sewers and snuck into Baujan Field through a manhole. A graduate of both UD and the Marianist-led Chaminade High School, he holds the Society of Mary in high esteem.

"It is an honor and a privilege to teach at the University of Dayton and to be able to have worked with so many wonderful students and colleagues over the years," he said.

In those years, he's seen great things happen in engineering. Technology has advanced. Women and minorities have joined the profession in greater numbers. Cooperation with technical and secondary schools has improved with programs such as Tech Prep, the Ford Partnership for Advanced Study, Project Lead the Way and the Dayton Regional STEM School. And UD's engineering technology partnership with Shanghai Normal University has boosted enrollment and given a global perspective to programs.

More changes are on the horizon for Wolff, who isn't planning to retire, at least in the short term. After moving the fluid power laboratory and all its associated heavy machinery three times over his career, he'll soon move the manufacturing processes laboratory to the College Park Center from the Mechanical Engineering Building, which is slated for demolition. ("I watched them build the Mechanical Engineering Building," he notes.)

He also could go abroad, though not for a vacation — something he hasn't taken for about 15 years.

"There's the possibility I could teach in Shanghai, but if we're moving labs, I don't know," he said, laughing. "It's the work ethic. When you enjoy what you're doing ... ."