Honoring a Legend: Remember Former Dean George Dieter

A. James Clark School of Engineering Interim Dean Robert M. Briber sent the following email to the Clark School community today:

Clark School Community,

It’s with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of George Dieter, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, and dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering from 1977–94. He was 92. 

To quote UMD President Darryll J. Pines: “Dr. Dieter is an institution. He is a foundation. He is a legend.”

Dr. Dieter was a visionary who put the Clark School on its trajectory towards excellence: He believed in the school and saw its promise. He believed in our students, faculty, and staff and saw the energy they could bring to engineering. He put those beliefs to work.

Under his leadership, word of the Clark School’s excellence grew and so did student enrollment. He made competition a priority and encouraged students to take part in national engineering competitions. He launched the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and started the Board of Visitors, where he invited distinguished alumni to advise us and help keep the Clark School’s classes and programming on the leading edge of our profession.

He wrote two seminal books: Mechanical Metallurgy, now in its third edition and one of the standard texts we use to teach engineering; and Engineering Design (coauthored with Linda C. Schmidt), now in its sixth edition and which President Pines described as “legendary.” In 1993, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “contributions to engineering education in the areas of materials design and processing.”

When he did leave the Clark School, he kept giving to it. Dieter and his late wife, Nancy, established a merit-based scholarship for a mechanical engineering student involved in the Women in Engineering Program. He also established a Capstone Design Fund and supported a professorship named in his honor.

On December 5, 2018, Dr. Dieter celebrated his 90th birthday—and did so by attending a ceremony to honor the Clark School’s Engineering for Social Change class. “I’ve been an engineering professional for 55 years, and I’ve never seen an engineering course as noble as Engineering for Social Change,” said Dieter. “The requirement for each team to search out some local charity is very worthy.”

Dr. Dieter never stopped learning, leading, or giving. His life is a legacy of service. The success of engineering education—at the Clark School and more broadly—is paved in part with his vision, foresight, and ambition. The materials teaching lab in the Kim Engineering Building was recently named the George E. Dieter, Jr. Materials Instructional Laboratory to remember all that he’s done, and to remind us to strive for a similar legacy.

Dr. Dieter is survived by his daughter, Ms. Carol J. Dieter, who has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any of the following funds associated with the University of Maryland:

Please keep Carol in your thoughts.


Robert M. Briber, Interim Dean
Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering
A. James Clark School of Engineering 

Bala Balachandran, Department Chair
Minta Martin Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
A. James Clark School of Engineering

Published December 14, 2020