College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

A legacy left by late IE alum Linda Schmidt

Linda Schmidt. Photo courtesy of University of Maryland.

Industrial engineering alum Linda Schmidt passed away earlier this month at the age of 62.

Schmidt served on the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland at the time of her passing. She held a B.S. and M.S. in industrial engineering (IE) from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Her dissertation was titled “An Implementation Using Grammars of an Abstraction-Based Model of Mechanical Design for Design Optimization and Design Space Characterization.”

Born in Blue Island, Illinois, Schmidt completed her B.S. in 1989 and her M.S. in 1991. Her research at Iowa State focused on queuing theory. She was advised by John Jackman, who serves as an associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE) at Iowa State, but is currently on administrative leave for an appointment with the National Science Foundation. Leslie Potter, teaching professor in IMSE, remembers Schmidt as a fellow researcher.

“In the spring of 1991, Linda and I worked together for Dr. John Jackman,” said Potter. “She was a graduate student and I was an undergraduate research assistant. We traveled to Fort Dodge together and spent several days collecting data related to municipal equipment, including dump trucks, snow plows, and the like. Working with Linda was so much fun; she was enthusiastic about everything she did. We were able to reconnect a few years ago during a visit she made to ISU. It is very sad to have such a talented and energetic colleague gone so young.”

Schmidt joined the University of Maryland faculty as an assistant professor in 1995. During her career she published more than 80 refereed publications. She also received numerous accolades including a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award for research and the American Society of Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Fred Merryfield Design Award. She was a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) as well as a member of both ASEE and the Society of Mechanical Engineers. Having collaborated frequently with her in the ASEE and ASME communities and for research on Systematic Ideation Effectiveness Study of TRIZ (sponsored by the National Science Foundation), Gül E. Kremer,  C.G. “Turk” & Joyce A. Therkildsen Department Chair of IMSE, fondly remembers her colleague.

“I am mourning the loss of a peer woman leader in engineering, a research collaborator, an IMSE alumna, and a close friend,” said Kremer. “Words cannot describe the hole Linda left behind.”

At Maryland, Schmidt founded and directed the Designer Assistance Tool Laboratory (DATLab), a workroom where students can hold group meetings, brainstorming sessions, and use a wide selection of construction tools and materials. She impacted countless students during her tenure in the classroom, most recently teaching “Product Engineering and Manufacturing” as well as the senior capstone course. Along with colleague, George Dieter, Schmidt co-authored the fourth, fifth and sixth editions of the textbook Engineering Design.

Linda Schmidt is fondly remembered for her devotion to her students as well as to her family and friends.