Clive Dym

Renowned Engineering Educator, Prolific Scholar, Mentor

Clive L. Dym

July 15, 1942–May 3, 2016

Harvey Mudd College engineering Professor Emeritus Clive L. Dym passed away during the early morning hours of May 3, 2016.

Dym joined Harvey Mudd in 1991 as the inaugural holder of the Fletcher Jones Design Chair, where he developed innovative strategies and paradigms that transformed design education in the United States and around the world. Dym believed design was the distinguishing activity of the engineer, an activity that he viewed as central to creative thinking, problem solving and decision making. Dym developed a framework for teaching design that rejected the notion that students required a foundation of engineering science before their engagement in design and brought formal design education to the freshman curriculum. One of his most innovative contributions resulted in design thinking and exercises within the team environment, where diversity of thought and experience combined to produce the desired outcomes. Dym wrote extensively about design, how to think about design and why design thinking was so critical to effective decision making.

Through his passion for design engagement, Dym created a community of scholars interested in design education and created a biennial program of workshops—now named in his honor as the Clive L. Dym Mudd Design Workshops—that brought together educators, practitioners and researchers to discuss issues in design and engineering education.

Prior to joining the College, Dym was renowned for his contributions in the fields of applied mechanics and artificial intelligence. He was an expert in the areas of solid mechanics, applied elasticity, stability formulations, and in the performance of plates and shells where he used energy formulations to develop simplified methods for the analysis of complex structures. His interests then shifted to expert systems, computer-aided engineering and the idea that artificial intelligence could lead to enhanced knowledge acquisition and decision making. Dym was a prolific writer, authoring and co-authoring hundreds of referred journal articles, proceedings, technical reports, as well as 13 books.

Dym’s contributions brought a multitude of recognition awards and prizes, including the Walter L. Huber Research Prize (ASCE), the Fred Merryfield Design Award (ASEE), the Joel and Ruth Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award (ASME), the Benjamin Garver Lamme Award (ASEE) and, together with Harvey Mudd professors Mack Gilkeson and Rich Phillips, the National Academy of Engineering Gordon Prize for creating and disseminating innovations in undergraduate engineering design education for the development of engineering leaders. Upon his retirement from Harvey Mudd in 2012, Dym received an Honorary Alumni Award in recognition of his service to students and to the College.

A graduate of Cooper Union, New York City (BCE, 1962), Brooklyn Polytechnic Institution (M.S., 1964) and Stanford (PhD, 1967), Dym held appointments at the University at Buffalo; the Institute for Defense Analyses; Carnegie Mellon University; Bolt, Beranek and Newman; and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he was also head of his department (1977–1985). Before retiring from Harvey Mudd (1991–2012), he served as chair of the Department of Engineering (1999–2002), recruited the department’s first group of female faculty, expanded the department’s project-based learning experiences and served as director of the Center for Design Education (1995–2012). During his tenure as engineering design professor (1991–2012), he held visiting appointments at the TECHNION-Israel Institute of Technology, the Institute for Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton, Stanford, Xerox PARC, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern and USC.

Clive Dym was the second son of Isaac and Anna Dym. He is survived by family in the United States and Israel, including his wife, Joan Dym; daughters, Jordana Dym (and Scott Mulligan) and Miriam Dym; brother, Harry (and Irene) Dym; nephews David and Michael Dym and families; stepsons, Matthew (and Cindy) Anderson and Ryan (and Dina) Anderson; grandchildren, August Dym Noë, Ulysses Dym Noë, Courtney Anderson, Lauren Anderson, Katerina Anderson and Michael Anderson; and his adopted family member, standard poodle Hank.