Donald earned bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University and was a B-24 pilot in World War II. After working as a design engineer at Boeing Corporation, he taught at Colorado State University for six years and then served for 31 years as a professor and head of the mechanical engineering department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts. He ended his career with two years as acting provost and vice president of academic affairs. He served as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, chairman of the James Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, and a member of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Northwestern College's Alumni Association (Orange City, IA) named him the Distinguished Professional Achievement Award recipient in 1992, and WPI awarded him an honorary doctorate. Among his survivors are his wife Marcia and four daughters.
Donald Nelson Zwiep, age 88, of Orange City, IA, and Marco Island, FL, formerly of Holden, MA, died on April 14, 2012, in Naples, FL.
A memorial service will be held at the American Reformed Church in Orange City on May 26, at 10:30 a.m. The Rev. Keith Krebs will officiate. Visitation with the family will be both before the service and after the service, during a lunch and fellowship time. Arrangements are with the Oolman Funeral Home in Orange City.
He was born on March 18, 1924, in Hull, IA, the son of Daniel and Pietronella (Nellie De Stigter) Zwiep. He graduated from the Hull Public Schools and attended Northwestern Junior College in Orange City. He volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943 and flew 59 missions as a B-24 pilot and crew commander in the China/Burma/India Theater (10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Squad, 492nd Squadron). He retired from the Reserves in 1989, as a Lieutenant Colonel. He graduated from Iowa State University in Ames with a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering in 1948 and 1951. He worked as a junior design engineer at Boeing Corporation in Seattle, and then joined the faculty of Colorado State University 1951-1957.
He was Professor and Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 1957-1988, when he became the Acting Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. He retired in 1990. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from WPI in 1964.
Under his leadership, the department's enrollment quadrupled and graduate programs at the masters and doctoral levels were begun. His responsibilities included the WPI Nuclear Reactor Program, the Alden Research Laboratory, and the Manufacturing Engineering Application Center. He helped found and became co-head of the Management Engineering Department in 1964. Always willing to encourage students' efforts, he joined them in everything from the MA to CA Clean Air Car Race in 1970, to advising their projects in Washington, D.C., London, The Netherlands, and the Goddard and Johnson Space Centers. He made presentations or was invited to give papers in the field of engineering education throughout the world.
Beginning as a student in 1947, he was an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) at local, state, and national levels. He served as President 1979-80, the Society's Centennial year. He was honored by ASME as a Life Fellow in 2004, receiving the Distinguished Service Award and Honorary Membership.
He was also a lifelong member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He served on the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and served on 15 regional accreditation teams.
He was Chairman of the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation 1976-2000, serving as judge and director of their annual awards contests for students and professionals.
He is cited in Who's Who in America and Engineering. He was named a Distinguished Alumna from Northwestern College and from Iowa State Mechanical Engineering Department. He was an elder in the Fort Collins Presbyterian Church, CO.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marcia Hubers Zwiep; his four daughters, Donna (William F.) Williams of Ridgewood, NJ, Mary Zwiep (Russell Fraser) of Honolulu, HI, Joan Zwiep (Thomas Hoster) of Palo Alto, CA, and Helen Cornely (C. Michael) of Miami, FL; 9 grandchildren, Kate Williams Stone (Peter), Evan Williams (Maria), Griffith Williams (Megan), Anna Williams, Zoe and Alexandra Hoster, and Diana, Joseph, and Daniel Cornely, two great-grandchildren, Shane Stone and Tressa Williams; and 13 nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Helen Shultz, Marie Mears, and Jeanette Reed; and his brothers, Cecil, Tunis, and Leonard.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Donald Zwiep M.E. Memorial Fund at WPI Mechanical Engineering Department, c/o Pam St. Louis, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609.
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