Elected in 1973
“For contributions to design education and to the advancement of biomedical engineering.”
BY THE MIT NEWS OFFICE
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
ROBERT W. MANN, born in 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, attended Brooklyn Technical High School, after which he entered the U.S. Army and served in the Pacific Theater in World War II. He came to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a student on the GI Bill in 1947 and received his S.B. in 1950, his S.M. in 1951, and his Sc.D. in 1957.
Robert Mann joined the MIT faculty in 1953 and was a professor of mechanical engineering for almost 40 years. During that time, he was also Whitaker Professor of Biomedical Engineering and, from 1974 until his retirement in 1992, director of the MIT Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newman Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation.
Robert Mann was a leader in the field of design. In fact, he was instrumental in turning design into a discipline. During the 1950s, Professor Mann’s research on internal power systems led to the development of the Sparrow I and III and Hawk missiles. But by the mid-1960s, his research was focused primarily on applying technology to human disabilities.
In 1997, during a talk at MIT about his fruitful career, Mann characteristically combined modesty and enthusiasm in describing how he made the switch from “powering rockets to powering people.” A fellow veteran who had lost his sight and one arm in the Battle of the Bulge inspired his first