As a wordsmith extraordinaire who has never met a pun he didn't like, David Voltmer has to enjoy the irony of having the perfect name for an electrical engineering professor.
It's this good-natured charm that has made Voltmer a favorite with Rose-Hulman students for 32 years, a mentor in and out of the classroom and an award-winning educator.
And, now Voltmer and his beloved wife, Joan, are giving back to the Institute through significant financial donations to support the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and its students. The couple has joined Rose-Hulman's Chauncey Rose Society with total personal contributions between $50,000 and $249,000. The Chauncey Rose Society honors persons who have shared foresight, dedication and generosity with the college.
"I enjoy helping others," Voltmer says. "I believe that you give back to those in need. I have been blessed many times over in my life through family, friends, and work. Rose-Hulman and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in particular, have been very good to Joan, our family, and me. It's simply the right thing to do.
"Really, teaching at Rose-Hulman has been a labor of love. It hasn't been work. Rose-Hulman made it possible for me to do things I couldn't have done other places. My faculty colleagues have been great friends, and the students have been enjoyable to teach and many, as alumni, have become cherished comrades. I've enjoyed every minute of it."
That enjoyment is expressed through Voltmer adorning a referee's uniform to officiate at the robotics challenge that culminates the principles of a design course; playing his cherished 1908 A.C. Fairbanks banjo in weekly campus jam sessions; performing with students and faculty/staff colleagues at the annual Rose-Hulman Community Concert; broadcasting each Sunday Rosie's Pickin' Parlor Show on the campus radio station; and riding his bicycle across the country with students, alumni, and colleagues.
Maybe that's why students affectionately refer to Voltmer as "Smiling Dave."
"As a teacher, I'm most proud of learning about my former students' achievements. They're doing some amazing things," Voltmer says. "I couldn't be more delighted in their successes. Hopefully, I played a small role along that trail."
Spoken like a true cyclist and educator.
Voltmer gave up a tenured teaching position at Penn State University to join the Rose-Hulman faculty in the spring of 1979. He specializes in electromagnetic fields (wearing the unofficial title of "Dr. Emag"), satellite communications, microwaves, antenna theory, computer-based instrumentation and wireless applications.
His career contributions made Voltmer the first Rose-Hulman faculty member to be named to the American Society for Engineering Education's Academy of Fellows, earning the ASEE's Distinguished Service Citation from the DELOS Division, and receiving the distinguished Ronald J. Schmitz Award for his support and leadership of the Frontiers In Education conference. He has served as ASEE's electrical engineering division officer and was general co-chair for the FIE's 1987 and 2005 conferences.