In Memoriam: Bill Schmitendorf

May 29, 2019 - Longtime engineering faculty member and administrator Bill Schmitendorf died May 15, 2019, at his home in Irvine. He was 77.

Schmitendorf came to UC Irvine in 1988, after spending 21 years on the faculty at Northwestern (1967-1988) and participating in two sabbaticals at UC Berkeley. He was a long-term leader in UCI’s engineering school administration, serving nine years as chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and 10 years as associate dean for Academic Affairs. He retired in 2007.

A prominent researcher in the field of control theory and applications, Schmitendorf was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Schmitendorf was born in 1941 in Oak Park, IL, the son of Lois and Delmar. His childhood focused on academics and playing sports, especially his first love, baseball. He earned his bachelor’s degree, master's degree and doctorate in aerospace engineering from Purdue University. In honor of his demonstrated excellence in academia and other aerospace engineering endeavors, Purdue recognized him with the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer (OAE) alumni award in 2005.

Roger Rangel, interim chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, recalls that Schmitendorf was MAE chair when he was hired as an assistant professor 30 years ago. “We connected on a personal level quickly when we found out that we both had a common passion: baseball,” said Rangel. Schmitendorf was the ultimate Chicago Cubs fan, always waiting for the next year in hopes for a World Series win. “When the Cubs finally came through and won the World Series in 2016, I emailed him to congratulate him. It was no longer, ‘wait til next year.’ He replied, saying he thought he'd never live to see it. I am very glad he did. He was a good man."

Schmitendorf is survived by his wife of 40 years, Mary, and his two sons, a stepson, stepdaughter and seven grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Aug. 11, 2019, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the University Hills Community Center in Irvine. Donations in Schmitendorf’s memory can be made to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 E. Ohio, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60611.

– Lori Brandt

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