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Renaissance Engineer: Innovator, Poet Phil Rodenbeck Gets Most from His Talents
August 17, 2012
By Dale Long, Director of Media Relations
Phil Rodenbeck is featured next to
a statute honoring famous poet Max Ehrmann. The alumnus is a
two-time winner of the Ehrmann Poetry Contest.
Inventor, poet, innovator and inspirational leader are elements
that make Phil Rodenbeck one of the most well-rounded students to
walk on the Rose-Hulman campus.
After all, how many students have earned three patents for
Toyota Motors, have invented a novel automotive shock absorber and
have developed an innovative new tool for project planning?
He's also had time to be a two-time winner of an Indiana poetry
contest, including grand-prize honors this year; he's been active
in Terre Haute's Poetry at the Grounds social gatherings and he's
created an illustration that graced the cover of Rose-Hulman's Ink
"Phil is a rare breed. Everyone who works with Phil becomes
better at what they do, because Phil has the ability to inspire
others," proudly states Corey Taylor, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of
English and Ink's faculty advisor. "Rose-Hulman was fortunate to
have Phil (as a student) for several years."
Rodenbeck arrived on campus from Valparaiso, Indiana in 2006 and
remained to earn bachelor's (2010) and master's (2012) degrees in
mechanical engineering. Along the way he also completed an
internship and co-op at the Toyota Technical Center, where he
invented three now-patented technologies: a magneto-rheological
elastomer wheel assembly with dynamic tire pressure control, a
magneto-rheological coil spring and a dynamic shock absorber.
His Rodenbeck Project Tower, developed with assistance from
Engineering Management Associate Professor Terry Schumacher, Ph.D.,
provides a 3D graphical tool that represents project tasks in a
style that's currently unavailable through PERT or Gantt tools.
And, finally, he turned an undergraduate capstone design project
into an ingenious graduate initiative that earned this year's
Outstanding Graduate Thesis Award. His design of a cost-effective
semi-active damper, completed under the guidance of Vice President
for Academic Affairs Phillip Cornwell, Ph.D., has caught the
attention of the automotive industry.
"Phil was a fantastic student," says Cornwell. "I use the term
'advise' very loosely in relating my assistance with his master's
thesis project, because he was extremely self-motivated and needed
very little advice. He is incredibly creative and hardworking."
Rodenbeck's engineering talents are now being used at Parametric
Solutions Inc. in Jupiter, Florida. He continues to write poetry in
his spare time.
"When you slice it all apart, everything I do is creative
problem solving," he says. "If you give an engineer a novel
problem, you will get a novel idea. Taking something from your mind
and making it real so that it can help someone-that's the creative
process behind an engineer."
And, the creative gifts behind Phil Rodenbeck.