Business leader Robert Brinkman inducted into RIT’s Industrial and Systems Engineering Academy

Former chairman and chief executive officer of the Brinkman International Group honored for leadership in supporting engineering education

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Bob Brinkman (right) became the newest inductee into the Industrial and Systems Engineering Academy on Sept. 29. He was recognized for his many contributions to RIT’s engineering college and the manufacturing industry by Scott Grasman, (left) ISE department head, and guests, in a ceremony that took place in the Earl W. Brinkman Machine Tools and Manufacturing Laboratory.

Rochester businessman Robert Brinkman was inducted into the Industrial and Systems Engineering Academy at Rochester Institute of Technology on Sept. 29 and recognized for his contributions to RIT’s engineering college and his leadership in support of excellence in industrial and systems engineering education.

Brinkman, retired chairman and chief executive officer of the Brinkman International Group, said in his acceptance speech to a group of faculty, staff and administrators from RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering that he modeled his successful career after his father’s business acumen and principles.

“I am surprised and inspired to receive this award. I tell people I have an advanced MBWA degree—“management by wandering around,” he said laughing, explaining that building a successful business meant spending time on the shop floor, investing in innovations and people, as well as delivering quality products. These were attributes he says he modeled after Earl Brinkman, his father, who worked for Davenport Machine Tool Co., for 54 years, becoming its president in 1966 before retiring in 1979. “Dad drove the company, even behind the scenes.”

Robert Brinkman worked for his original company when he graduated from high school. After earning a degree in business and serving in the Army, he went back to work for C. J. Winter Machine Works, Inc., buying the company soon after. He acquired several other companies and merged them into Brinkman International Group which includes Davenport Machine, Inc., C.J. Winter Machine technologies, Brinkman Precision and Gates Albert, Inc. He built the Brinkman Group into a national and international tool and equipment leader, aerospace machining, and multi spindle screw machines. He retired in 2009.

The family’s relationship to RIT began well before Brinkman’s retirement when he established the Earl W. Brinkman Machine Tools and Manufacturing Laboratory. It was dedicated in 1996 as a research and development laboratory focused on improving manufacturing technologies and product-manufacturing processes. It has become a focal point in the engineering college, used extensively as part of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, to support faculty research and as a demonstration and training facility for the college’s corporate partners.

“It is fitting that Bob Brinkman receive this recognition in this lab named after his father,” said Scott Grasman, department head of industrial and systems engineering, who presented Brinkman the commemorative plaque. He acknowledged his widespread support to the Kate Gleason College and RIT, including establishing the Brinkman Professorship in the ISE department. Those who have held the position have distinguished themselves in key research areas to advance the manufacturing industry, specifically in sustainability, 3D printing and additive manufacturing.

The Industrial and Systems Engineering Academy is one of several ceremonies the engineering college hosts to recognize influencers such as Brinkman. A new class of honorees is being inducted into engineering academies during individual department ceremonies in the college on Friday, Oct. 16 as part of RIT’s Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend. A reception for the college, faculty, students, staff and alumni takes place at 4 p.m. in Louise Slaughter Hall, Rooms 2220-2210. All ceremonies and the reception are free.

Individuals being recognized in department ceremonies taking place are:

Computer Engineering Academy: 3 p.m., Institute Hall, Room 1140

Inductees: Robert Appleby ’88 and James Cole ‘86

Mechanical Engineering Academy: 3 p.m., James E. Gleason Hall, Room 1159

Inductees: Jeremy Gerevics ’05 and Thomas Maiuri ‘70

Due to schedule conflicts, electrical/microelectronic engineering inductee, Kevin Scalia ’84, and industrial and systems engineering inductee, Steve Matteson ’77, will be recognized at ceremonies later in the year.