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Charles J. Robinson ’69, D.Sc., P.E. 

Alumni Memory

I am responding to your FRANCISCAN article on Memorable Professors. I am sorry I did not submit anything for that piece. However, you did include a photograph of John Emmert, and that triggered many thoughts. Mr. Emmert was the reason I chose to come to Franciscan University of Steubenville rather than to go to a more traditional engineering school. He personally came to St. John’s Central High School in Bellaire to offer me a full-tuition scholarship to go the Steuby U. 30+ students started the Engineering Science Program with me, but only two graduated with that major. 

Emmert, Dr. S.S. Rao and visiting professors from Pitt were tough, but they provided us with a great engineering education. Rao became a life-long friend, and I often visited him while he was chair of the EE Department at Villanova. I worked for Emmert one summer in his foreign car repair shop in Wheeling. We shared a love of model trains. It was not just the engineering courses that helped my career, but the Honors courses led by then Dean Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, and the many math, physics and philosophy courses that really rounded out my education. 

My engineering education was so good that I was hired upon graduation by Bell Telephone Labs, the most prestigious engineering research lab in the world. Five years later, I was able to pass the tough Professional Engineering exams, and an equally tough D.Sc. entrance qualifying exam at Washington University in St. Louis that I took the third day that I was there. I covered the great influence that “Steuby U” had on my life in my 90-minute Last Lecture that I recently gave upon retiring from Clarkson University in upstate NY.

Charlie Robinson ’69 was granted professor emeritus status by Clarkson University in Upstate NY. He had served 17 years there as professor and director of their Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST). He had previously retired from 30+ years of service in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a senior rehabilitation research career scientist, mainly working with veterans with spinal cord injury. The St. Lawrence Section of the American Society of Engineering Educators recently awarded him their 2022 Outstanding Teacher Award, making him eligible for the national 2023 ASEE award. He is proud that his granddaughter, Trinity Young ’22, just graduated from Franciscan University, and is now studying to be a physician’s assistant. He is equally proud that his daughter and Trinity’s mother, Elizabeth (Robinson) Young ’99, was awarded Franciscan’s 2014 Mussio Award and the Knights of Columbus 2018 International Family of the Year Award, for her family’s Camp Veritas Catholic youth summer programs. Charlie is a commissioned lay minister in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, and recently finished two terms as state warden of the NY State Knights of Columbus Council. He continues to serve as a National Trustee of the ALS Association (of Ice Bucket Fame). Charlie lives with his wife Kathy and their cat Houdini in far upstate New York, near the St. Lawrence River. He just finished a 74,000 corporate spy novel “Hybrid Hysteria” that he hopes to get published.