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Emeriti & Distinguished Faculty

Remember your favorite professor

Former students can hear the voice of Aubrey Gibson. Listen to a recent interview with Gibson and see photos of him on the ME-EM website at www.me.mtu.edu/emeriti/gibson.

Former students and colleagues can hear the voice of Gordon Hellman

Former students and colleagues can hear the voice of Gordon Hellman. Listen to a 1988 interview with Hellman and see photos of him on the ME-EM at Gordon Hellman.


Emeriti and Distinguished Faculty Plaque in the ME-EM Building Lobby

 

Hotchkiss Hall

Hotchkiss Hall

Shops of ME

ME Shops

Hubbell Hall

MEEM Building

Current Home of ME-EM Department

ME-EM Emeriti and Distinguished Faculty Endowment Fund Brochure

Download ME-EM Emeriti and Distinguished Faculty Endowment Fund Brochure (PDF)

How to give to Michigan Tech in honor of your favorite professor

As the extended arc of a distinguished academic career unfolds through the years, the long-term impact is often not easy to perceive.

Through 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.

As the Endowment grows, it will help to support an endowed position for the current generation of ME-EM Professors.

The 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 at www.me.mtu.edu/emeriti/gibson

Gibson 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.”

Gibson’s 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.

Former 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.”

The 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.

Gibson’s 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.

Gibson 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.

The 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 kagoulet@mtu.edu, to make arrangements. Call (906)487-2551 Phone / (906)487-2822

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