Ernest Frederick Nippes, an academic committed to leadership, service, and devotion, died at home on April 3 surrounded by his family in Sanford, Florida. Born in 1918 in New York City, the only son of the late Ernest and Louise (Kueckes) Nippes of East Islip, N.Y., where he was raised and his family owned and operated the Nippes Nursery Furniture in Bayshore. Ernie’s character was apparent at an early age; he was bright, adventuresome, and strong willed. He was one of the few individuals to ice skate across the frozen Great South Bay from Long Island to Fire Island. His love for the great outdoors, hunting and fishing, a good song, a lively dance, and historical trivia had only one rival, his devotion to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
The gift of a chemistry set determined the course of his life. Graduating from East Islip High School at 16, he attended RPI, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1938, a MS in Metallurgical Engineering 1940, and a Ph.D. in Metallurgy in 1942. His love for academics, research, and innovative thought led him to extend his relationship with RPI for over 50 years serving as a Professor, Department Chairman, and Dean of Research and Sponsored Programs, until his retirement at 72.
The co-inventor of the Gleeble thermomechanical simulator, he was the author of over 100 articles and editor of the Ninth Edition of the American Society of Metals Handbook on welding, brazing, and soldering. He was recognized as a leader in his field, working with NASA on the Apollo and Gemini Projects, U.S. Navy on the Nautilus and the Sea Wolfe, and the National Science Foundation on numerous projects. He co-founded Duffers, coined by classmates who considered the founders to be “a bunch of duffers,” now know as Dynamic Systems Inc, the manufacturer of the Gleeble. The Gleeble is a unique tool used by all metallurgical engineers.
He received the Samuel Wylie Miller Memorial Medal in 1959, participated in Dupont’s “Year in Industry” program in 1962-63, and the Adams Memorial Award in 1965. In 1961, he was one of only three American welding authorities invited to visit research centers in Moscow, Kiev, and Leningrad under a National Academy of Sciences Exchange visit, as part of the Detente Program. He served as National President of the American Welding Society in 1968-69.
RPI has bestowed several awards on Dr. Nippes for service, leadership, and commitment, including the Alumni Key Award in 1990, the Albert Fox Demers Medal in 2005, the David M Darrin Counseling Award from the Phalanx Honor Society, and the Rensselaer Alumni Association Teaching Award in 1987. His other affiliations include American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, a fellow for American Society of Metal and a founding initiate of the Hall of Fame for over 50 years of service to Phi Kappa Tau.
Ernie was married to Margaret Louise Hutchens for 28 years, the mother of the two oldest sons. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Marilyn (Lynne) Nippes, his sister, Madeleine, five children — Raymond (E. Sandra), Robert (Nancy), Deborah (Angel), Stephen (Mary) and Stuart (Louann), 11 grandchildren, 2 that predeceased him, and 5 great grandchildren.
In retirement his focus shifted to Martha’s Vineyard, where he and Lynne owned and operated Aldworth Manor in Vineyard Haven. They spent many years enjoying the company of friends on the island, prior to moving to Florida in 2005. His legacy is in the minds and hearts of thousands of engineers around the world.
A memorial service is planned for June 5 at 1 pm at Rensselaer’s Chapel and Cultural Center, 2125 Burdett Avenue, Troy, N.Y . The family requests in lieu of flowers a donation to the Ernest F. Nippes ’38 Graduate Research Enhancement Award at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180, or Vineyard Nursing Association, Attn. Development, P.O. 399, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568