College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Remembering David Dow Robb

David “Dave” Dow Robb died Dec. 21, 2017, in Salina, Kansas, at the age of 95. Robb was a former professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) at Iowa State University and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) at the University of Kansas.

Robb was born on Feb. 13, 1922, in Salina to Francis and Florence May (Dow) Robb. Robb was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 47 years, Mildred Hershey Robb, who passed away in 1994.Dave Robb

He earned electrical engineering undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Kansas (BSEE 1943, MSEE 1948 and Ph.D. 1964). He was a member of The Instituite of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Sigma Xi and Eta Kappa Nu honorary societies and is the namesake of the Robb Award, a gift for graduate students to present papers at a conference or workshop, attend conferences or other activities that would enhance the educational experience and knowledge of the student.

Robb began his time at Iowa State University in 1948 and was an assistant professor until leaving in 1952. He later returned to ISU in 1968 and was an electrical engineering professor until retiring in 1977. During his time away from Iowa State, Robb worked at Wilson & Company in Salina and was an instructor at the University of Kansas.

“Dave was a very capable engineer and Iowa State professor,” said Anson Marston Distinguished Professor James McCalley. “He was very knowledgeable in electric power and the energy systems group.”

While at Iowa State, Robb worked alongside Mervin S. Coover and Warren B. Boast, two notable figures in the history of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State. Coover became the namesake of the department’s building in 1969 to honor his service and dedication to the department and the College of Engineering. Boast assisted in the designing process of Coover Hall, which opened in 1950.  

“Dave Robb was a dear friend. Almost every day we walked together to have lunch in Campustown,” said ISU ECpE Professor Emeritus Thomas Scott. “Dave and Mildred invited us to dinner at their house and asked us to bring our baby, whom they doted on her as if she were theirs.”

Upon retirement, Robb returned to Salina and practiced consulting engineering in the area of electric power generation and transmission until he reached the age of 80. Thereafter, he maintained an office in downtown Salina and was a familiar face to many in the town.  

Robb is survived by his two children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral services were held Dec. 28, 2017, at First Presbyterian Church, followed by a burial in Gypsum Hill Cemetery in Salina.