Million-dollar gift endows director of engineering leadership minor

University Park, Pa. -- A $1 million gift from Walter and Anne Robb, of Schenectady, N.Y., will endow the directorship of the Engineering Leadership Development minor in Penn State's College of Engineering.

The new endowment will be called the Walter L. Robb Director of Engineering Leadership Development, and the inaugural holder of the directorship will be Richard Schuhmann, an assistant professor who currently heads the minor.

“Walt Robb has been a friend to the Engineering Leadership Development program since its inception, providing the essential guidance and wisdom that has brought the program world recognition," Schuhmann said. "This endowment will enable the program to grow and enhance existing programs and to stay innovative in a rapidly changing world."

Schuhmann began teaching environmental engineering at Penn State in 1998 and has also taught courses in the Science, Technology and Society program. He was appointed director of the leadership development minor in 2005.

The Engineering Leadership Development minor is an interdisciplinary program designed for engineering students who wish to supplement their major field of study with knowledge of leadership concepts, principles, practices, and techniques. The minor was developed as a result of strong industry, recruiter, and alumni support for training, educating, and developing engineers who are not only technically competent but also interpersonally aware and capable of leading teams.

Schuhmann’s professional experience includes mapping submarine hazards and archaeological sites, underwater excavation, building wooden boats and providing offshore support for seismic petroleum exploration. He also is a private environmental consultant specializing in modeling the fate and transport of chemicals in the environment.

Robb is a 1948 Penn State chemical engineering graduate and a management consultant and president of Vantage Management Inc. A New Bloomfield native, he is one of the University’s most generous donors. The Robb family has endowed two scholarships at Penn State, as well as a chair for the head of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Robb is a founding member of the College of Engineering Leonhard Center Advisory Board and served on the University’s Alumni Council during the construction of the Hintz Family Alumni Center.

In 1987, he was given Penn State’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest recognition the University can bestow on its graduates.

Robb served 42 years at various positions at General Electric before retiring as its senior vice president for corporate research and development in 1993. During his tenure, he received a dozen patents relating to his work in permeable membranes and separation processes and led GE’s medical imaging business into a $1.6 billion enterprise with more than 10,000 employees globally.

Robb was honored in 1993 by President Bill Clinton with the National Medal of Technology for his leadership in the computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging industry. He also served on the council of the National Academy of Engineering.

Today he serves on the boards of Celgene and Mechanical Technology Inc., and is an investor and director of 10 startup companies.

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Last Updated April 06, 2010