March 18 marked the dedication of the newly refurbished and redesigned ME lobby and undergraduate study area on the first floor of the Mechanical Engineering building. Funds for the work were specifically set aside in the will of the late Professor Edward F. Obert who was a faculty member until his retirement in 1976.
In addition to this gift to the department, Helen Whitman-Obert, the professor's widow, contributed two large, original murals to enhance the new interior design. The colorful, geometric panels have been installed at each end of the newly carpeted study area.
Helen Whitman-Obert was guest of honor at the dedication in honor of her late husband, Edward F. Obert.
Painted by artist Marko Spalatin, the murals can be seen at night through the ME building's large north windows. "I saw the artist's work in the UW Foundation's new building, and I liked his 'engineering' style, exacting and detailed--like Ed was," Mrs. Whitman-Obert said. The artwork is like a kaleidoscope, said Professor Frederick T. Elder, who was a student of Professor Obert and is now executor of the Obert estate. "The more you look at it, the more nuances you see."
Other changes in the lobby area include the creation of a separate vending machine room and the moving of faculty and graduate student mailboxes, freeing lobby space that will eventually accommodate additional student lounge areas. The ceiling and walls have been painted to coordinate with the new murals.
By fall, new study tables, chairs and sofas will have arrived in addition to eight new computerized study carrels. These computers will allow students to do word processing, check their e-mail, or browse the web.
Professor Elder said that the bequest for the student study lounge was indicative of the way Professor Obert felt about undergraduate ME students. He was a champion of undergraduate education, and was a willing mentor to many students. In addition to the study lobby, Obert's bequests also provide funds for scholarships, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, honorary society program fees, student tutoring programs, and local and regional functions.
Obert, who died in 1993 at the age of 83, had served as chairman of
the ME department from 1963 to 1967, but was probably best known by
his students and colleagues as a teacher of high standards and
steadfast principles. "He was uncompromising in his belief that
ethical behavior was mandatory," said Mrs. Whitman-Obert. Students and
faculty members often sought his guidance. Obert was also an
accomplished scholar who wrote numerous articles and four
internationally acclaimed textbooks, Concepts of Thermodynamics,
Elements of Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer, Thermodynamics, and
Internal Combustion Engines.
ME Newsletter is a periodic publication of the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Correspondence should be sent to the address below.
Editor: Gail Gawenda
Designer: Lynda Litzkow
APRIL 1998 Contents