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UW Crest with engineering background
October 31, 2022

Bruce Dale: 2022 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient

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Bruce Dale

Bruce Dale BSEM ‘79, MSEM ‘80
Chief engineer (retired), ExxonMobil

We are honoring Bruce as an engineer who championed game-changing technologies in the oil and gas industry and fostered innovation, creativity and excellence throughout his career.

How did you decide on your major?

A recent UW-Madison chemical engineering graduate and family member provided me several insights and encouraged me to pursue engineering. The decision on a major became much clearer after my first summer as an intern at General Motors. In the production design group, I had my first opportunities to work directly with engineers, designers, machinists and fabrication specialists just as I was preparing to transfer to UW-Madison.

As a student, how did you spend your free time?

I was a member of ASME, SAE and Tau Beta Pi. I was a season ticket holder for both UW-Madison football and hockey games and also attended several basketball games and music concerts. I participated in a variety of intramural sports such as flag football, basketball and volleyball. I always found time during later-in-the-week weeknights and weekends to go out with friends to the Memorial Union, State Street, house parties, and other social events. During winter, we skied near the Wisconsin Dells and during summer, we camped out at Devil’s Lake. Every few weekends my fiancé, Margaret (and now spouse of over 40 years), or I traveled the Badger Bus between Madison and Milwaukee so that we could be together.

How did your experience in the college shape your career path?

It’s difficult to imagine success in my own career path without my experience at UW-Madison. The quality of the education and skills training, the intellect of faculty and staff, the extensive laboratories and computing resources, and the entire student environment contributed to becoming a critical thinker, a team player and leader.

Which engineering professors made the greatest impact on you?

The very first professor who engaged my love of engineering was Vern Cutler. The course was statics, and his methods of instruction and reasoning, personal charm, charisma and animation were captivating. I used many of his instructional techniques as I taught a similar class as a graduate teaching assistant and prepared a textbook solution manual on the same subject for the second most influential professor, Bela Sandor. To this day, we remain in regular contact and have been friends for over 45 years. I took both of Bela’s advanced courses, Fatigue of Engineering Materials and Fracture Mechanics. I was captivated by these subjects, which a few years later would become the basis of my early research and development work as a scientist at ExxonMobil.

Any hobbies?

I like to stay busy designing, building and making improvements to our family homes and ranch. I still enjoy playing tennis, an occasional round of golf, biking, skiing, motorcycling, hiking, swimming, defensive pistol and target shooting, and traveling. The theater is one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I’m a lifelong Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers football fan. In addition, I’m an avid follower of Houston Astros baseball. I get together with fellow ExxonMobil retirees frequently for lunches, dinners and the occasional professional baseball or basketball game. Family is important to my wife and me, and we enjoy our adult children and their growing families, especially time with the grandchildren.