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November 9, 2021

Professor Emeritus Richard Marleau passes away

Written By: Adam Malecek

 Richard Marleau
Richard Marleau

Richard Marleau, a long-time professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison passed away on Aug. 31, 2021 at the age of 85.

Marleau was born in Toledo, Ohio, where he spent many years working in his family business, Marleau Hardware, where he developed a deep interest in electrical systems. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Toledo before beginning his PhD studies at UW-Madison in 1960. After earning his doctorate, he stayed on at the university as an instructor and researcher.

Marleau’s research focused on non-linear control systems and later he investigated the application of computers in control and instrumentation systems.

During his career, Marleau was particularly interested in engineering education. He served as a consultant, helping to develop academic engineering programs worldwide as part of projects supported by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the United Nations and the United States Agency for International Development. The work took him and his wife Sandra around the world, including visits to Indonesia, Singapore, China, Pakistan and other countries. For this effort, the UW-Madison College of Engineering recognized Marleau with its 1994 Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award, which rewards faculty and researchers who inspire or demonstrate the use of innovation and engineering principles to benefit humanity.

Marleau served as a research advisor to many graduate students and visiting scholars from China. His teaching honors include a Ford Foundation grant, teaching awards from Standard Oil and Westinghouse as well as the IEEE Student Branch award, recognizing his patience, understanding and thoughtful guidance of his students.

In the summer of 1969 and again in 1973 Marleau was selected for an American Society of Engineering Education-NASA grant which took him to NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. The grants allowed Marleau and his family, including Sandra and daughter Heidi, to indulge their love of travel, including long road trips through the West. In 1973-1974, the family moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul when Marleau served as an internal consultant for 3M before returning to UW-Madison.

In 1998, Marleau became a licensed professional engineer and served on the State of Wisconsin registration board. He was elected to the honorary societies Sigma Xi, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi and Pi Mu Epsilon and was a senior and life member of IEEE. He retired from UW-Madison in 2000 after 40 years of service.

Read Marleau’s obituary here.