in memoriam

Robert Brungraber G’05, Professor Emeritus, Civil & Environmental Engineering

black and white photo of Robert Brungraber
Photo: Special Collections/University Archives
Professor Emeritus Robert Brungraber G’05, civil & environmental engineering, died June 27. He served as department chair from 1968 to 1974, held a Presidential Professorship from 1979 to 1983, and left a tangible legacy in Lewisburg that can still be seen today, when crossing the Bull Run creek or standing east of Dana Engineering.

The 40th anniversary and rededication of the Hufnagle pedestrian footbridge garnered news coverage in early 2022, bringing worthy attention to Brungraber’s role in the design and building of the local landmark. (Read more about the anniversary on Page 7.)

In addition to his well-known bridge work, Brungraber also designed and supervised the construction of a campus facility to house the University’s 600,000-pound Baldwin universal testing machine, providing students a space “to learn the importance of testing connections that hold structures together.” Beginning in 1978 with the delivery of the Baldwin to campus, the professor sourced experimental materials that could be used to construct the building at little or no cost to the University, offering his consulting services in return to the companies who donated in kind. “Bob was not only an outstanding engineer, but also he was a great salesperson for Bucknell engineering,” said Professor Emeritus Jai Kim, civil engineering, who worked closely with Brungraber throughout his career. The building was completed in 1985 but stood unnamed until his retirement in 2000, when the department dedicated the Brungraber Civil Engineering Structural Test Laboratory in his honor.

At Brungraber’s retirement ceremony, former Dean of Engineering Thomas Rich spoke of the professor’s impact. “The structures testing facility symbolizes your ingenuity, perseverance, dedication and skills as both engineer and entrepreneur,” he said. “You can take pride in knowing the many students who have benefitted from your teaching and those who will benefit in future years from their experiences in the structures testing lab.”

Beyond Bucknell, Brungraber served as a research engineer for the National Bureau of Standards and was a member of the board of directors of the National Institute of Building Sciences. His pioneering development of a patented device for measuring slip resistance was adopted by the committee of the American Society for Testing and Materials. After his retirement, he and his wife, Ruth, founded Slip-Test Inc., a specialized consulting, testing and manufacturing firm, which they ran for two decades.

Brungraber is survived by two children, including his son Ben Brungraber P’05 and spouse Joel Feldman P’05; five grandchildren, including grandson Griffin Brungraber ’05 and spouse Caesara “Chezzie” Wendin Brungraber ’04; and seven great-grandchildren.