Understanding that companies need continuous technological innovation along with effective management to maintain a competitive edge, Albert Harold Rubenstein founded the Master in Engineering Management (MEM) Program at Northwestern University in 1976 to provide high-quality engineering management education for engineers and scientists in the Chicago area. Initiating the program was a challenge—at the time, many faculty members were skeptical of a part-time program to educate working professionals—but Rubenstein persisted, gaining support for one of the first master’s programs in the country to offer collaboration between a management school and an engineering school.
It was during the early years of World War II that Rubenstein, then a teenager, first realized the importance of engineering principles. While working for a perfume and beverage company, he was once instructed to install a portable filtration system on the third floor of a customer’s factory. However, upon delivering the machine, he discovered that there was a slight problem. “[The machine] would not fit onto the elevator in the building!” Rubenstein recalled for a 2009 article in Engineering Management Journal, adding that he had then been forced to disassemble and reassemble the entire machine. “Thus, I received, at age 16, a valuable lesson in the need for careful system design, planning, and project management in even these simplest of projects.”
Rubenstein served on the faculty at MIT’s School of Industrial Management before joining Northwestern’s faculty in 1959. The same year, he was elected editor of the journal Transactions on Engineering Management, a position he would hold for more than 25 years. He directed the MEM Program at Northwestern from 1977 until 1992, and also established two research centers at Northwestern: the Program on Management of Research, Development, and Innovation (POMRAD) and the Center for Information and Telecommunication Technology. He also served as director of studies for the College of Research and Development, was vice-president for research and education of the Institute of Management Sciences, and from 1960 to 1983 was a director of the Narragansett Capital Corporation.
Over the course of his career, Rubenstein co-edited Some Theories of Organization, edited Coordination, Control and Financing Industrial Research, and authored nearly 200 articles and books on R&D/technology management. He was also a member of the advisory committee on Economic and Manpower Studies of Science and Technology for the National Science Foundation. Rubenstein was also the founder and president of International Applied Science and Technology Associates (IASTA), a consultancy through which he advised industrial and government organizations in the United States and abroad.
In April 2013, Al Rubenstein passed away at the age of 90. A dedicated academic, adviser, and consultant who spent more than four decades at McCormick, Rubenstein was known for his pioneering work in engineering management, as well as a commitment to bring his field to the forefront at the University. Since then, the MEM Program has established the Al Rubenstein Memorial Scholarship Fund. Through this fund, MEM students can get much-needed financial assistance to complete their degrees in the very program that Professor Rubenstein helped create.
If you would like to contribute to the Al Rubenstein Memorial Scholarship Fund, a check made out to “Northwestern University” can be mailed to:
1201 Davis Street, Suite 3-600
Evanston, IL 60202
Please reference the Al Rubeinstein Memorial Fund in the memo line.
For tax-deductible donations, Northwestern’s tax ID is #36-2167817