Robert “Bob” Lorenz, Former AISC Education Director, Dies at 91

Robert "Bob" Lorenz, who played a major role in expanding AISC’s education efforts in the 1980s and 1990s, died on February 19. He was 91.

Lorenz was born April 2, 1930, in St. Joseph, Mo., where he lived until he graduated from high school. He then enrolled in the Navy ROTC program at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering; he also earned a master's degree from Cornell University. Known as a man of great faith, he was also a proud member of the U.S. Navy, serving from 1951 to 1954 (during the Korean War) on the U.S.S. The Sullivans (DD-537) and rising to the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade).

Lorenz started with AISC as its regional engineer for the Minneapolis area (announced in the July/August 1961 edition of AISC News, left) and in 1986, he became director of education, where he expanded AISC’s work with universities and grew the seminar program.

"Bob was the capable and respected face of AISC and our industry for a generation of engineers," recalled Charles J. Carter, AISC’s president. "He led our annual seminar series, connecting tens of thousands of designers to AISC and engaging many hundreds of speakers from the design community, industry, and academia in the process for more than a decade. His character, kindness, and caring were obvious to all." 

Under Lorenz’s leadership, AISC's continuing education department worked to promote the long-term growth of structural steel education in universities and colleges, with an emphasis on complementing design education with practical know-how.  In 1992, AISC presented its first annual workshop for structural design professors. This two-day workshop was held at ten locations across the country and focused on areas like steel fabrication and erection while also providing educators the opportunity to interact with practicing structural engineers. Lorenz retired from AISC in 2000.

"Bob hired me as assistant director of education of AISC in 1998, and I worked for him for a couple of years before he retired," recalled Steve Ashton, engineering manager with BlueScope. "The years I worked with him were the best of my career. He was an excellent teacher and storyteller. He not only prepared me for a career in the steel industry, but he also taught me a lot about traveling, business, and life in general."

"I have much to thank Bob for, as he is the one that really introduced me to AISC," recalled James M. Fisher, emeritus vice president of CSD Structural Engineers. "I once told him that AISC should put on a lecture series on industrial buildings. Before I knew it, he had arranged a meeting with Bob Disque and Bill Milek to discuss the topic in my office. I ended up giving lectures in 54 cities during a two-year period, more than one-third of these with Bob. He commuted to Chicago from Milwaukee on the 6:30 am train every day. I made several trips on the train with him, and he always worked the entire 90-minute trip on engineering problems or creating new lecture series. Once arriving in Chicago, he would go to church to pray before heading off to the office."

Lorenz is survived by Rita, his wife of 65 years; children Dan and Jane; grandchildren Maggie, Sarah, and Veronica; and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by children Mary Ellen and Paul.