Meet Robert Bonthron (ME ’44, M.S. MECH ’52, Ph.D. MECH ’62) and Howard H. Kehrl (ME ’44), the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winners.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed posthumously on an individual who has recently passed away and who, during his or her life, achieved personal success, made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field of endeavor, and achieved recognition by his or her colleagues.
Bonthron began his Illinois Tech career in 1940 as a member of the first freshman class of the newly formed Illinois Institute of Technology following the merger of Armour Institute and Lewis Institute. During graduate school, he was also an instructor in the mechanics department, and by 1952 he was also working part-time as assistant to the dean. After earning his doctorate, he became a full-time professor, and by 1968 was dean of students, a role he held until 1975. Bonthron retired in 1991 as emeritus professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering after 44 years of service to Illinois Tech.
Kehrl’s childhood love of cars and all things mechanical informed his career path, and he spent 38 years rising through the ranks at General Motors. After joining the research laboratories in 1948, he became a research engineer a year later and went on to posts at Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile. He held positions as manager of quality control, chief engineer, general manager, group executive, and executive vice president, among others, and also served on the Board of Directors. He also served on the finance committee. He was elected vice chairman in 1981 and held the post until his retirement. Additionally, he worked on the Dodrill-GMR Mechanical Heart project, built by GM Research Laboratories and used in the first successful open-heart operation.
The 2016 Alumni Awards luncheon and ceremony will recognize 13 alumni and one civic leader. Help celebrate these extraordinary winners on Friday, April 29 at 11 a.m. in Hermann Hall. Registration is required, and tickets are $50 each.