In Memoriam: Albert Rubenstein

Today, we regretfully share that MEM founder Professor Albert Rubenstein passed away this past week on April 13. The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied sciences has provided a memorial article about Professor Rubenstein’s life and contributions to Northwestern University and the MEM program and Professor Werwath has written his own reflection below.

By Mark Werwathin-memoriam-albert-rubenstein-professor-emeritus-in-industrial-engineering-and-management-sciences-body

I was deeply saddened to hear of Al Rubenstein’s passing this weekend. I can say that Al was truly a visionary leader in the field of engineering management and Northwestern was privileged to have him on faculty. To say that Al had a profound influence on my life would be an understatement. Al got me started in my engineering management career. Al’s passion was always on taking an organizational theorist’s view of research and development. He was quite focused on innovation and capturing  and leveraging the innovative capacity of the organization.

For an “operations” guy like me, someone trained to work with automation and manufacturing, Al gave me permission to feel comfortable with R&D and gave me an insight that allowed me to spend the bulk of my career in the middle of an R&D organization. This was rare for someone like me, who might have been considered an industrial engineer, to find himself pursuing R&D projects for more than two decades in a variety of industries. I believe Al made it possible for me to fulfill that dream.

Al was also one of the original members of the board of governors for the IEEE engineering management society (now called the Technology Management council). His efforts in those early days with the EMS were legendary. Years later, Al’s recommendation got me a seat on the IEEE EMS board of governors in 2004 where I served for three years.

Perhaps it was Al’s legacy that helped draw me back to Northwestern. He motivated me to complete my PhD in Organization Development in 2001 and I would eventually fulfill the very role that Al originated, as Director of the MEM program starting in 2012.  I can only hope to have this kind of influence on someone else’s life. My job now is to maintain the high standards that he established for MEM back in 1977. Al will always remembered.

We welcome you to share your own stories and memories as we honor Al’s life, teaching, and leadership.

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