Vice Chancellor Research and Economic Development
Robert “Bob” Wilhelm leads Nebraska's research efforts as well as the integration of university innovation in the wider economy, as Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development.
Wilhelm, a professor of mechanical engineering and engineering science, was previously vice chancellor for research and economic development at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He held executive roles at that institution since 2005 and had been a member of its faculty since 1993.
An award-winning researcher, Wilhelm specializes in precision engineering. He received a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1994 and was named a fellow of the International Academy for Production Engineering in 2013. He was awarded more than $6 million in peer-reviewed competitive research funding between 1993 and 2009, working with companies like Caterpillar and DaimlerChrysler on virtual manufacturing and software frameworks for integrated measurement processes.
Before becoming UNC Charlotte’s chief research officer, Wilhelm served as associate provost for strategic research partnerships and as executive director of the Charlotte Research Institute, a facility similar to the Nebraska Innovation Campus that provides space to corporate partners to work with faculty and students on campus.
He also assisted with the founding of six National Science Foundation industry-university cooperative research centers and the development of focus areas for large-scale research and academic programs in data science-business analytics, energy, advanced manufacturing, biomedical research and bioinformatics.
Wilhelm has emphasized research that directly impacts social, cultural and economic communities and has led initiatives to support social science, digital humanities and the broader research culture.
Wilhelm earned a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University. He holds a Master of Science from Purdue University and a doctorate from the University of Illinois.
Along with serving as Nebraska’s vice chancellor for research and economic development, Wilhelm will be named a Kate Foster Professor. The endowed professorship was established in the 1970s through a gift by Foster’s estate. Foster graduated from the University of Nebraska, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1906 and a Master of Arts in 1909.