Robert E. Machol

ORSA President, 1971

Robert (Bob). Machol was the 20th President of ORSA. His career encompassed academia, industry and government and spanned operations research, chemistry, scientific writing, and aviation. He enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and emerged in 1945 as a Lieutenant Commander. After the war, he worked for the Operations Evaluations Group (OEG) of the Navy, editor of science for Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia, as Technical Editor at the University of Michigan, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Purdue (1958-61), Vice President of Conductron (a startup before there were startups) (1961-64), founding chair and Professor of the Department of Systems Engineering at University of Illinois, Chicago(1962-67), Professor of Systems at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern (1967-87) and, after his retirement, as Chief Scientists for the Federal Aviation administration. While a professor at Northwestern, he spent two years as ONR’s representative in London reporting on scientific advances in Europe. Early in his tenure at the FAA, he researched potential dangers to small aircraft created by wake turbulence from the Boeing 757. Eventually, the FAA ordered landing aircraft to increase their distance behind the jetliners.

He is the author, or co-author, of six books relating to operations research, beginning with the first, ground breaking book on large-scale systems engineering (1957) which was one of the first to introduce O.R. to engineers. In addition, in many scholarly articles, he interpreted the applications or use of operations research methodology in a large variety of fields, ranging from astronomical, botanical and bioengineering, to sports, which have been widely acclaimed. His insistence upon rigor, completeness, and clear end results established patterns that became examples for the profession, as well as members of the Society, to follow.

His early work as scientific editor led to his selection as chair of ORSA’s Publications Committee, and later as editor of a book series, Studies in Management Science and Systems, published by TIMS. He received the Kimball award in 1993.

Dr. Machol was the first Chairman of the Kimball Prize Committee for ORSA and served for four years. He was Secretary of ORSA for four years prior to his Presidency. As the Society's representative to the International Federation of Operations Research Societies, he published a key paper on OR/MS in Europe. As President of ORSA he helped resolve a controversy over a report that had the possibility of causing serious divisions among the key members of the operations research-management science communities.

Prof. Machol died in 1998.

BA (Chemistry), 1940, Harvard; PhD (Physical Chemistry) 1958, Michigan; PhD (hon.) Emry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Robert E. Machol's Awards