McCormick: A Family Tradition
When most people talk about the “McCormick family,” they’re referring to the school’s close-knit community and the collegial atmosphere that spawns countless collaborations and decades-long careers. But for some people, that phrase can be used literally. McCormick has been home to many legacy enrollments over the years, as sons and daughters (and sisters and brothers) inherit an appreciation for all the school has to offer and set to work creating their own traditions. We’ve spotlighted a few students, past and present, who are truly members of a “McCormick family.”
When Phil and Brian Brunner were playing with Legos and Lincoln Logs as kids in their Milwaukee home, they were doing more than having fun; whether they realized it or not, the brothers were taking the first small steps in their academic careers. “We just had an interest in building things,” says Phil. “That’s what engineering is all about.”
Nearly two decades later, the two are playing with bigger toys at McCormick. Phil (’08, MS ’09), who is now pursuing a PhD in materials science, was a talented high-school quarterback who came to Northwestern for reasons that were not strictly academic. “I wanted to challenge myself both intellectually and athletically, and Northwestern is the place to do that,” he says. A walk-on to the football team, Phil was the Wildcats’ long-snapper for three seasons and earned Academic All-American honors.
Brian (BS/MS ’11) joined his older brother at McCormick a few years later. “Phil drew me toward the school,” he says. “I knew that if I followed him, I would have some guidance.” That guidance mainly included advice about which residence hall to live in (Elder Hall) and reminders of how hard engineering courses would be. But both brothers appreciate the presence of a familiar face. “It’s nice having someone there to listen when you’re blowing off frustrations,” says Phil. “At least I think he’s listening.”
The Brunners live together in an off-campus apartment and even took the same class last year, but they don’t share every interest. Brian won’t be getting a PhD, for example. “I’d rather just start working and get some experience,” he says.
Brian will be moving on to a commercial plastics company after graduation, while Phil will be continuing his research on plastics. Will there be a collaboration down the road, perhaps including the pair’s three brothers, all engineers? If it does happen, Phil is optimistic. “I wouldn’t want to work with anyone other than my brothers,” he says. “They all work hard. They’re all very intelligent people. I think we can take criticism very well. I can yell at Brian, and he’s not going to go pout or anything.” His younger brother has a slightly different take: “I always told him that we might work together,” says Brian, “but I’ll never work for him.”
As for the next generation of Brunners, Phil will do his best to further the McCormick tradition. “I’m definitely going to encourage my kids to look at Northwestern. I really love it. That’s why I stayed here another four years.”
Like father, like son
It’s not surprising that Glenn Daehn (’83) was drawn to engineering. He spent his formative years following his father, Ralph (MS ’75), around manufacturing plants, previewing the career that awaited him. “That kind of stuck with me,” he says.
“I think Glenn saw how much enjoyment I had with my work,” says Ralph. “I traveled all over the world, did a lot of fascinating things, and have been able to provide very well for my family.”
Ralph says his time at Northwestern, where he earned his degree in materials science and engineering taking weekend courses, was a big factor in his career success. When the time came for Glenn to consider colleges, his father set up a meeting with former McCormick professor Julia Weertman, who would become a friend and colleague of the younger Daehn, now a materials science professor at Ohio State University. “Like most kids that age, I didn’t have a strong sense of where I was going or why. My dad’s influence definitely pushed me toward engineering,” says Glenn.
Glenn’s enrollment marked the beginning of a deeper relationship between father and son. The two worked at the same company during subsequent summers and continue to consult each other regarding engineering issues. “Sometimes he’ll call me for technical advice, or I’ll call him and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this problem. What do you think about this?’” says Ralph, who now works as a consultant after more than 40 years in the containers industry.
Both Daehns have been elected fellows of ASM International and shared the head table at the society’s awards event last October (Gregory Olson, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, was also honored).
Glenn’s daughter, Katie, a high school senior, may be continuing the family’s engineering tradition at McCormick. The Daehns visited campus over Christmas break and were welcomed by an old family friend, associate dean for undergraduate affairs Stephen Carr, who taught both Ralph and Glenn.
The Daehns cite their interactions with faculty as a major benefit of their time at Northwestern. “I was extremely pleased with the professors I had,” says Ralph. “They were so professional and down to earth.” Glenn has been invited back several times to give talks at McCormick, most recently last fall. “I’ve got great memories of Northwestern and still consider many of the people here friends,” he says. It’s just one more thing he and his father have in common.
My three daughters
Growing up with parents who worked at Northwestern, the Wolff sisters were introduced to an array of attractions at the school from a very early age: football games, enrichment programs, Cheetos from the Tech Express vending machines. “I thought Northwestern was the only college that existed,” says Grace, 17, the youngest of the three.
“Being around Northwestern so much could have repulsed them so much that they wanted to get as far away as possible, but I think it gave them a glimpse of what a great place this truly is,” says the girls’ father, Alan Wolff (PhD ’08), McCormick’s director of information technology.
Given the choices of all three sisters— Sarah is a junior studying environmental engineering, Esther is a sophomore in manufacturing and design engineering, and Grace will enter McCormick in the fall—it’s safe to say that the family’s close ties to Northwestern were beneficial. “Our dad geared us toward all the resources at McCormick and even introduced us to some department chairs,” recalls Sarah, who enrolled in the engineering and law program, which she would not have known existed if not for her father.
The sisters inspired each other, too. “I used to think engineering was really boring,” admits Grace. “Then during Sarah’s freshman year, she had to redesign a Wii for a stroke patient [in the Engineering Design and Communication sequence]. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”
Esther was similarly drawn to McCormick’s focus on practical applications. “You do a lot of hands-on stuff here,” she says. Esther has put those skills to use in an internship at Solo Cup, while Sarah has worked as a co-op student for General Electric.
Though Alan says he isn’t much help with homework, he still acts as a valuable resource for his daughters. “Occasionally they wanted to know where a certain room in Tech was, and I could tell them exactly where it was,” he says.
The Wolffs are enjoying this relationship while it lasts. “This is a good college choice for them, but they don’t necessarily have to stay here like I did,” says Alan. “I think this is an excellent launching pad to something else.”
Regardless, the Wolff family legacy at McCormick will continue. For years Alan, his wife, Vivian, the three girls, and their younger brother have been regulars at the annual undergraduate Design Competition, where autonomous robots are pitted against each other. That tradition is likely to live on long after the sisters have graduated.
While the full list of alumni with McCormick family ties is far too long to print, perhaps you’ll recognize some familiar names here:
Thomas Anderson (’56, ’58, ’61); daughter Patricia Morreale (’83); son-in-law James Morreale (’84)
Jeffrey K. Braun (’65); sons David Braun (’90) and Kenneth Braun (’94)
Ronald Church (’58); sons Stephen Church (’86) and Timothy Church (’90)
William (’81) and Carol Cory (’79); daughter Christine Cory (’11)
Lee A. Dayton Sr. (’65); son Lee. A. Dayton Jr. (’87)
David Eckert (’77); brothers Alfred C. Eckert III (’71) and James Eckert (’72); son John Eckert (’08)
John Eshbach (’46, Phd ’47); son-in-law A. Eugene Norby (’68)
Robert Fierle (’45); son William Fierle (’98)
Edwin P. Garst (’70); sons James Garst (’00) and David Thomas Garst (’01)
H. Wallis Gochnauer (’44); son Richard Gochnauer (’72)
Philip Graham (’60); daughter Sarah Marshall (’98)
Thomas and Louisa H. Gross (both ’77); children Mary Gross (’06), James Gross (’08), Carol Gross (’10), Susan Gross (’10), and William Gross (’14)
Promod Haque (’74, Phd ’76); daughter Irene Haque (’11); son-in law Chad Cochran (’10)
Bernard Hattis (’43); sons Jonathan Hattis (’73) and Philip Hattis (’73)
Melville and Jane Hodge (both ’52); nephew Linn Hobbs (’66)
Mark and Patricia Hutten (both ’85); son Ryan Hutten (’12)
Fred K. James (’49); sons Frank James (’68), Paul James (’70), and Keith James (’76)
Raymond Krizek (’63, Stanley F. Pepper Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering); sons Robert Krizek (’87) and Kevin Krizek (’93)
John Kukral (’82); son James Kukral (’13)
Robert Linsenmeier (’75, Phd ’78, professor of biomedical engineering and of neurobiology and physiology); son Jeremy Linsenmeier (’07)
John (’80) and Lori (’81) Luther; son Matthew Luther (’10)
Lyle Mockros (’56, ’57, professor emeritus of biomedical engineering); son Karl Mockros (’86)
Emil C. Muly Jr. (’58, ’62) and Faye Muly (’61); daughter Emily Schmidt (’91); son-in-law Brian Schmidt (’85)
D. Eugene Nugent (’51); son Dale Nugent (’92)
Samuel Pai (’78); daughter Christina Pai (’13)
Warren Rasmussen (’53); son Mark Rasmussen (’81); daughter-in-law Nancy Rasmussen (’80)
Damoder Reddy (’67); son Sridhar Reddy ( Phd ’93)
Ginni Rometty (’79); sister Annette Peterson (’86)
William Rosner (’75); children William Rosner (’05), Kathryn Rosner (’07), and David Rosner (’10)
Stephen Schwartz (’74); son Samuel Schwartz (’12)
Ben Slivka (’82); son Max Slivka (’12)
Michael Stark (’78); son William Stark (’14)
Gregory P. Stewart (’69); sons Gregory P. Stewart (’90) and Brett B. Stewart (’93)
William Templeman (’50); sons William J. Templeman Jr. (’76) and Robert Templeman (’85)
Grant Tiefenbruck (’73); daughter Laura Tiefenbruck (’00); son Mark Tiefenbruck (’04)
William White (’61, professor of industrial engineering and management sciences); son James White (’85)
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My husband Herb Richter and I met at NU. He graduated from McCormick in '77 but two of our 4 sons also graduated from McCormick...Jeffrey Richter '01 and Steven Richter '07. We are hoping the family tradition will continue on with the next generation. We found out that I have relatives going to NU that date back to the early '30s and now my cousin's daughter will graduate from Communication! The purple pride continues to spread throughout our family!