Pehlke leaves lasting legacy

We were very saddened to learn of Professor Emeritus Robert Pehlke's passing on October 22.
Pehlke leaves lasting legacy

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of MSE Professor Emeritus Robert D. Pehlke. He died peacefully early Tuesday morning at the age of 86. Professor Pehlke served the department for a total of 45 years, including several terms as department chair.

A native of Michigan, Professor Pehlke received his B.S. from the University of Michigan in 1955 and an S.M. and Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958 and 1960, respectively. He studied at the Technical Institute, now RWTH Aachen University, in Aachen, Germany, as a Fulbright Fellow during his graduate studies. Professor Pehlke joined the U-M faculty as an assistant professor in 1960 and was promoted to associate professor in 1963 and professor in 1968. He served as chair of the Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from 1973-84.

Professor Pehlke made many key contributions to the science and technology of metallic materials. His early work clarified several of the critical reactions between liquid steel and gaseous elements and contributed important insights into steel making. Professor Pehlke was a pioneer in the computer modeling of metal casting processes. His work incorporated the modeling of heat transfer, the application of solidification theory, and the practical aspects of industrial casting processes. This work was critical for the development of the commercial computer-aided design packages now used around the world. Professor Pehlke is well known for his outstanding experimental research in liquid metal processing, and he is an internationally recognized expert in the continuous casting of steel. 

In 2017, Professor Pehlke generously endowed two gifts for the department: the Robert D. and Julie A. Pehlke Endowed Fellowship Fund for MSE graduate students and the Robert D. Pehlke Lectureship in Materials Processing, which brings in world experts on topics about or concerning materials processing. The first lectureship was held in September 2018 and featured Ron Radzilowski, a principal research engineer with AK Steel Corporation and former graduate student of Professor Pehlke. The second lectureship was held last month and featured materials expert Diran Apelian, who admired Pehlke both personally and professionally.

"Bob was responsible, committed, dedicated – a supreme professional," Apelian said. "You know, it’s been said that you make a living by 'what you get,' but you really make a life by what you give, and Bob gave a lot to this department and to the community."

MSE Chair Amit Misra agrees: "Even after his retirement Professor Pehlke still gave back to the department. We owe him so much and are so thankful for all the important contributions he made over these many, many years. We will all miss Bob greatly but feel fortunate that we can continue to honor his extraordinary legacy through both the Robert D. Pehlke Lectureship and Robert D. and Julie A. Pehlke Graduate Fellowship."

Funeral arrangements are set for Friday, November 8, with visitation at 10:00 a.m. and memorial service immediately following at 11:00 a.m. at Nie Family Funeral Home, 3767 Liberty Rd., Ann Arbor, 48103. Both the visitation and memorial service are open to the public.

To leave a memory or reflection about Professor Pehlke, please click here. All entries will be passed along to the Pehlke Family.