Virginia Tech's College of Engineering has presented William Grossmann of Berlin, Germany, with its 2015 Alumni Distinguished Service Award.

"I was truly surprised and flattered by the college awarding me the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Of all the awards I have ever received, this one means more to me than I can find the words to describe," Grossmann said.

In making the award to Grossmann, Virginia Tech College of Engineering Dean Richard C. Benson said, "Selecting you for the distinguished service award is about the easiest decision I have ever made in a long career. I struggle to find the words to describe my gratitude for your continuing generosity. This is measured in wisdom even more than it is in dollars (or euros). You are without peer when it comes to your myriad contributions to Virginia Tech."

"When Judy [Grossmann's wife] and I began the process of establishing the Charlie Yates scholarship we did not realize we were starting out on a journey to become much closer to the Virginia Tech community. As the years passed and, with election to Ut Prosim, the Committee of 100, and the Academy of Engineering Excellence we became aware of the many outstanding examples of impressive Virginia Tech alumni who have achieved great things and honors as well as having given back to the university," Grossmann added.

The Grossmanns are also members of the Legacy Society at Virginia Tech. "We are such believers in education and the mission of Virginia Tech that we decided to leave everything to Tech, including the eventual sale of our German home when it comes to that. In this way we know what we worked for, saved for, and planned for will be put to the best use possible, namely furthering Virginia Tech's mission of educating future generations of leaders of the world," Grossmann said.

Grossmann received three degrees from Virginia Tech's Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering: a bachelor's degree in 1958, a master's degree in 1961, and a Ph.D. in 1964.

Grossmann's varied career is full of accomplishments, garnered at some of the world's most prestigious scientific organizations. 

  • He formed the computer science center at the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York. 
  • He was also part of a group at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Munich, Germany, that discovered a new form of fusion plasma heating. 
  • He also developed an initiative for upgrading the information technology infrastructure at Asea Brown Boveri of Germany, an international leader in power and automation technologies. 
  • For many years Grossmann was a research professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University and associate director of the Institute's Magneto Fluid Dynamics Division.

Grossmann "is truly a global engineer," Benson said. Since 2007 he has served as a senior vice president, Europe, with Global Project Design in Berlin. He is also a partner in Transformation Consulting International, a consulting firm based in Mannheim.

At Virginia Tech, he was instrumental in the creation of the College of Engineering's International Alumni Planning Board, aimed at supporting and preparing global scholars and leaders with an appreciation for international experiences. He helped shape its intent to initiate, engage, and develop relationships with Virginia Tech alumni and international companies to support the college's international mission.

Grossmann is an adjunct faculty member with the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department, teaching since 2007. One year earlier he joined the National Institute of Aerospace, of which Virginia Tech is a member, as a director of its business development. He helped develop technology business opportunities for the NIA in systems engineering, advanced materials, and unmanned autonomous vehicles.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, the Eagle Scout excelled at swimming, allowing him to attend Virginia Tech on an athletic scholarship. He was voted the outstanding swimmer in the Southern Conference in 1956, 1957, and 1958. In 1990, he was the first swimmer inducted into Virginia Tech's Athletic Hall of Fame.

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