How to give to Michigan Tech in honor of your
the extended arc of a distinguished academic career unfolds through
the years, the long-term impact is often not easy to perceive.
thousands of hours of teaching, researching and collaborating,
countless human interactions take place. Senior faculty help junior
members develop and become established as their collective abilities
and personalities shape and reshape each year. Recognizing the
outstanding contribution of many retired ME-EM Faculty, the ME-EM
Department is proud to announce a new Endowment Fund honoring
Emeriti and Distinguished Faculty.
the Endowment grows, it will help to support an endowed position
for the current generation of ME-EM Professors.
initial gift to establish the Emeriti and Distinguished Faculty
Endowment has been generously offered by former Associate Professor
Aubrey Gibson. Gibson is well-known for the challenges he posed
to students during his tenure from 1954 to 1977. His hands-on
approach helped to develop the can-do, aggressive, problem solving
attitude that is the hallmark of ME-EM graduates.
Listen to a recent
interview with Gibson and see photos of him on the ME-EM website
and other ME-EM Emeriti Faculty embody the optimism, determination
and work ethic that flourished in post-WWII culture. His no-nonsense
style is poignantly described by former student John Calder ’67
BSME, now the CEO of Cincinnati Controls, “He used to crack
a bull whip in class.”
discipline in the classroom was not without its lighter moments
and was balanced by his commitment to challenging and encouraging
students. By honoring the Emeriti Faculty Endowment with its inaugural
gift, Gibson has extended his commitment to future generations.
His willingness to lead through action is no surprise to those
who studied or taught with him, for Gibson always knew how to
get his point across by using narrative effectively in the classroom.
Often Gibson took narrative one step further: He would show the
students a great story and provide them with an unforgettable
lesson, creating a sort of narrative-in-action to illustrate the
ideas of energy and momentum.
student and colleague Bernie Finn, ’55 BSME remembers, “Gibson
shot a firearm in the classroom once, demonstrating a principle
of engineering. As the story goes, he had set up a log hanging
from some wires. During class one day he walked across the room
and pulled out his 45 and shot a bullet squarely into the log.
They say all of the chalk dust shook down from the rafters. It
made quite an impression on the students.”
experiment was designed to illustrate conservation of momentum
and energy using a ballistic pendulum. Gibson explains, “We
tried it in the lab. I allowed students to come in with their
deer rifles and we would shoot into a 70-inch birch log that weighed
about 75 pounds. I did that for a number of years; it got student’s
attention and they knew how to work the problem after that.”
Since retiring in 1977, Gibson has remained a member of the Copper
Country community. As a lover of natural history, he has enjoyed
gardening, fishing trips to Isle Royale with Bernie Finn and continuing
to learn through avid reading. He is a member of the Audubon Society
and enjoys bird watching, with seed feeders stationed throughout
his yard. Under each feeder hangs a small cylinder suspended by
two wires, looking curiously like a ballistic pendulum. However,
these cylinders are steel and energized not by bullets, but rather
by voltage from an electric fence transformer. The intended lesson
on energy is not for students, but for “that damn bear”
that visits Gibson’s backyard for an occasional “hands-on”
review of Ohm’s law.
memorable lessons reflect the myriad influences that professors
have on students, working through the roles of teacher, mentor,
and disciplinarian. For some students, the important element in
this relationship was the faith that some professor or another
had in them during periods of discouragement—the belief
that the student could master seemingly insoluble problems in
engineering and technology if he or she reviewed, questioned and
tried again. This encouragement, expressed in words, a simple
nod during class or a greeting in the hallway sometimes moved
the frustrated students back to paper, desk or computer where
they could set foot on the steep path once again.
and his colleagues understood that what separates most students
from mastery of new material was not inability, but rather the
willingness to invest further effort and time to turn the problem
over in one’s mind until its intricacies became visible.
And the great gift of this faith in students was not mastery of
the engineering material at hand; rather that each student developed
his or her own confidence and a belief that any problem can be
dealt with, so long as one locates the right perspective and applies
effort wisely. The Emeriti Faculty Endowment Fund is an opportunity
to reinvest some of the fruits of this confidence back into the
ME-EM department, into the current generation of professors, and
into the next generation of students—who are discovering
their own abilities through the challenge of engineering education
at Michigan Tech.
Emeriti & Distinguished Faculty Endowment Fund honors all
retired ME-EM faculty members. Gifts can be made in honor of one
or more faculty members: contact Kathy Goulette firstname.lastname@example.org, to make arrangements. Call (906)487-2551 Phone / (906)487-2822