Vice Chancellor Research and Economic Development and Interim Executive Vice Chancellor
Robert G. (Bob) Wilhelm is Vice Chancellor for research and economic development at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He advances research by establishing and enabling research directions, cultivating partnerships, strengthening national and international relationships, and articulating a vision for partnership-based research and economic development. He has served in university executive roles since 2005 and as a faculty member since 1993. At Nebraska, he is also the Kate Foster Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Previously he was a professor and Vice Chancellor at UNC Charlotte.
He has been instrumental in advancing the quality, diversity, and growth of research by strongly connecting to academic programs and engaging regional and national partners. This advancement includes new and sustaining interdisciplinary research centers, focus areas for large scale research and academic programs, new research initiatives across the campus, and new programs to support the broader research culture.
Wilhelm leads economic development efforts to start up, grow, and recruit companies for business growth. On campus, his organization supports startup companies, established companies with R&D presence, and numerous partnerships with companies and agencies. These efforts help attract the most talented faculty, support long term impact on the economic region, and contribute to distinctive academic programs for students.
Earlier in his career, Wilhelm worked at the Palo Alto Laboratory of Rockwell Science Center and Cincinnati Milacron as well as co-founding a high-tech company, OpSource. At UNC Charlotte, he contributed to Ph.D. programs in biotechnology, information technology, mechanical engineering, nanoscale science, and physics and optical science. He is a recognized expert in precision engineering and advanced manufacturing. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the International Academy for Production Engineering. The impact of his research has been recognized with the NAMRI/SME S.M. Wu Research Implementation Award. He holds a BSIE from Wichita State University, an MSIE from Purdue University, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois. As a Rotary Foundation Fellow in the U.K., he studied the history of science and technology at the University of Leicester and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.
Dr. Wilhelm serves on many regional, national, and international boards. In Lincoln, he has enabled key partnerships, large scale research and commercialization while serving on the boards of NICDC, NuTech and NSRI. In Charlotte, he led the reorganization of the University Research Park as chair of University City Partners, worked to define a state-wide agenda for research and innovation while serving on the NC Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation, and supported commissioning of ten new works as collections board chair and trustee for the Mint Museum.