Recently alum Robert (Bob) Needleman, BSME’96, came back and gave a lecture to this semester’s mechanical engineering 5035/6035 Design of Experiments class. The goal of the class is to introduce students to analytical and numerical tools to design experiments to effectively and efficiently solve real-world engineering problems. Needleman who is a straight up quality engineer, has worked in low volume high dollar companies such as aerospace and low dollar high volume companies such as the automotive industry, was able to provide example after example of real-world  engineering problems along with creative solutions.

Students heard firsthand about his work at ATK satellite division where he was lead quality engineer for the Mars rover project. They built the center masts for the rovers Spirit and Opportunity that are now on Mars. It was a project that took two years to build those two parts!

Needleman-bike 300wNeedleman’s fellow classmate, associate professor Kam Leang said, “Bob is such a nice person to be around and interact with. He’s very dedicated to his profession and has a knack for solving challenging problems in industry. I’m really happy to see him come back to share his experiences with our students so that they can learn and be better engineers.”

Back in the day of going after his ME degree, Needleman was an older non-traditional student. He actually started out studying electrical engineering and then took a break with his formal education to work at Litton Industries. Being successful at Litton, he was soon promoted to management. It was during this period that he went back to school for his Bachelors of Science, but in mechanical engineering.

Soon after getting his BSME, he diversified his portfolio working in aerospace, medical and automotive industries. Needleman’s consistent success has led him to his current position as a quality engineer at Parker-Hannifin out of Pleasantview Utah. Parker-Hannifin is an aerospace manufacturer of hydraulic control systems. Needleman is responsible for all quality issues in the machining area.

mime 300wHis diverse professional experiences are matched only by his diverse recreational interests. Such interests and accomplishments as a Six Sigma Black Belt, being president of the Utah Desert Foxes Motorcycle Club while in his younger days racing motorcycles for 25 years in the desert, and more recently camping out in the desert and rock hounding. He has also become a “smoker” who attends barbeque competitions, getting serious tips from the professional smokers.

Needleman plans to continue to engage with the Department of Mechanical Engineering to help support the department’s education and research vision.