1951 − 2009
Sign Bill's Guest Book Message from President Wharton Official Obituary Photo Gallery Bill's Professional Accomplishments (link to AMP Center site) Leave a Memory or Quote View all Memories and Quotes Video of Memorial Service (SDSM&T 12/11/09)
Bill Arbegast passed away on November 28, 2009 after fighting a valiant battle with cancer. The world lost one of the great minds in the area of Friction Stir Processing, and the South Dakota School of Mines lost one of its most active researchers and best advocates of graduate education. There is no way to capture Bill's accomplishments, his impact, or his character in words, but below is an overview of the impact that Bill had on the field, the campus and the students.
Bill earned a BS degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1973. He worked as a Senior Staff Engineer for Martin Marietta Astronautics Group, Space Launch Systems Division from 1974 to 1990 and then returned to the Colorado School of Mines to work towards a graduate degree. He went back to work for Lockheed-Martin and while there became Principal Friction Stir Processing Investigator. While at the Lockheed- Martin Corporation, he spent over 20 years developing advanced materials and processes for various aircraft, launch vehicle, satellite, and interplanetary probes and held various lead positions of responsibility within the quality and engineering organizations. In 2001, Bill was appointed the first Director of the Advanced Materials Processing and Joining Laboratory (AMP) at SDSM&T. He became the Center Director of the NSF Multi-University I/UCRC Center for Friction Stir Processing (CFSP) when the center was established in 2004. The NSF Center was the first of its kind for the School of Mines and the first for the state of South Dakota. He served as AMP Center and CFSP Center Director until his death. During his career, Bill published more than 50 papers in national and international journals and gave invited presentations on four continents. He held six patents and received millions of dollars in research funding related to friction stir processing, including the new Repair, Refurbish, and Return to Service Applied Research Center, or R3S, which will develop, certify and implement innovative methods to refurbish and return to service vital military equipment. Bill was appointed as the director of this new center. His abilities for running a multi-university I/UCRC led the National Science Foundation to invite him to write a book on the topic so that all I/UCRC's could benefit from his ideas. NSF is planning a memorial to Bill during the I/UCRC Center Directors Meeting in January 2010.
Bill was a believer in interdisciplinary research. He co-authored papers with at least ten members of the SDSM&T faculty from at least five departments. He was also a great supporter of graduate education and funded many graduate students including at least a dozen who co-authored papers with Bill. He also believed in undergraduate research and supported numerous undergraduates on research programs and design projects relating to the AMP Center and CFSP. Bill encouraged students to take on responsibility and helped them learn from their mistakes.
Much more can be found about Bill and his impact on Friction Stir Processing on the World Wide Web. A Google search for arbegast "friction stir" yields close to 5,000 results, virtually all of which relate to Bill and his research.
On a personal level, Bill was a gregarious, and sometimes outrageous, person. He laughed easily, enjoyed teasing people, and lived with a gusto that everyone admired. He also had a big heart and never turned down a student in need. Not surprisingly, Bill's last thoughts in the hospital were for the continued welfare of his students and his colleagues. Bill Arbegast was a good man, a great metallurgist, and he will be missed.
A memorial service will be held on campus at 10:30 on Friday, December 11 in the Surbeck Center Ballroom. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William J. Arbegast Memorial Scholarship fund at the SDSM&T Foundation, http://foundation.sdsmt.edu.