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Dave Burgner Cherishes Rose-Hulman’s Role in Career Success
December 3, 2013
Dave Burgner was almost a Boilermaker instead of a Fightin’ Engineer.
In the spring of his senior year in high school, Burgner received a visit from the Rose-Hulman football coach, offering him the opportunity to study engineering while continuing to play football in college. Purdue University couldn’t match those possibilities.
Burgner went on to play football on campus for four years, serving as co-captain his senior year (1971-72), and earned his degree in electrical engineering in 1972. He has fond gridiron memories, lifelong friendships from his association with the Sigma Nu fraternity, and received a top-notch engineering background.
“Rose-Hulman’s success comes from its focus on teaching students. It was that way when I was there 40 years ago, and it’s still that way today,” says Burgner, who received the Rose-Hulman Alumni Association’s Honor Alumni Award at this year’s homecoming. “For me, there was a good balance between the educational and social processes.”
Burgner remembers several outstanding professors, including Tom Roper (Calculus III), Robert Steinhauser (Thermodynamics), and Herman Moench (Electromagnetic Fields and Waves II).
“Fields and Waves is one of the most difficult courses for electrical engineering students,” Burgner explains. “I had taken the first course and gotten through it, but I didn’t feel like I understood it. Herman Moench taught the second course and brought it all together for me.”
Those lessons led Burgner on a successful 40-year career with General Motors’ Packard Electric Division and Delphi Corporation, retiring this summer as vice president and global customer director at Delphi. The teamwork pedigree forged on the football field came in helpful as he built valuable relationships with GM executives, mid-level management, and sales team members throughout the world. He wrote and published the book, “It Isn’t Magic,” detailing the successful manufacturing processes of a Japanese supplier to Toyota. Career international assignments included stops in Germany, Japan, France, Spain, Italy, Romania, Morocco, Poland, and Turkey.
“Rose-Hulman provided me the ability to think logically about problems and set me up for a lifetime of learning,” says Burgner, who went on to earn an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology through a Sloan Fellowship. “Most alumni realize how the college has set them up for career success.”
Burgner gave back to his alma mater by encouraging GM and Delphi relations with the institute, helping resurrect the Detroit alumni network group, establishing the inaugural Rose-Hulman Dream Cruise, and leading the creation of a Sigma Nu endowed scholarship fund to honor longtime chapter advisor Bill Sisson.