Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 11
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  • WILLIAM A.J. GOLOMSKI 1924–2002


    WILLIAM A.J. GOLOMSKI, president, W.A. Golomski and Associates, international technical and management consultants, passed away February 17, 2002, at the age of 77. Born on October 14, 1924, in the small town of Custer, Wisconsin, Bill was the son of the late John and Margaret (Glisczinski) Golomski, who ran the local butcher shop and general store. Bill served during WWII in the Army Air Force with the 438th Troop Carrier Group.

    On June 19, 1960, he married Joan Hagen in a ceremony at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Indicative of his lifelong passion for learning, Bill earned many academic degrees: a B.S. in mathematics, English, and history at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point (1948); an M.S. in mathematics and physics, Marquette University (1950); an M.S.E.M. in engineering management, Milwaukee School of Engineering (1969); an M.B.A. in accounting and finance, University of Chicago (1972); a B.A. in television and video production, Columbia College, Chicago (1987); and an M.A. in sociology, Roosevelt University (1990).

    His dedication to personal and professional development was reflected in his membership in a wide range of organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society for Quality (ASQ), American Statistical Association, Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), New York Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Health, World Association of Productivity Sciences, and the Philippine Society of Quality. Bill worked as a consultant, speaker, writer, and educator in more than 60 countries and with more than 2,000 organizations, including Ford, Kodak, Del Monte, and GE. One of his many research interests was the development and application of concepts of quality and reliability in industry, government, education, and health care, blending quantitative and social and behavioral science methods.

    The impact of his accomplishments in engineering has been far-reaching and long-lasting. Bill emphasized the need for customer focus long before it became popular. He developed an entirely new approach to measuring customer satisfaction and conducted the first ever conference in that field. He also designed programs for assessing the safety of products, such as safety helmets, bicycle helmets, firefighting helmets, safety spectacles, and chemical protective units. He developed the use of linear programming theory and statistics to optimize the nutritional mix of processed foods from variable input stock, resulting in dramatic improvements in quality at significantly lower cost.

    His leadership in the measurement, control, and improvement in quality in the food, drug, and cosmetic industries led to a comprehensive quality system for the medical-device industry and earned him explicit recognition from the ASQ Food, Drug and Cosmetic Division, which named its premier award the William A. Golomski Research Award. He also developed successful optimization methods for blending both animal feeds and gasoline. While at Ford Motor Company, before quality function deployment (QFD) and concurrent engineering became commonplace, he developed a methodology for explicitly including customer input in the engineering design process for the Taurus and Lincoln Town Car. Bill also designed the control system used for technical supervision of the building of the Sears Tower, the world’s tallest building at the time. Among his myriad professional accomplishments, Bill developed the criteria for the first certification program for a technical society, the Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) distinction.

    In the past 30 years, some 50,000 persons have been credentialed. Invited by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on the initial Panel of Judges for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1988, and then on the Board of Overseers from 1989 to 1991, his ideas on management were instrumental in the development of the criteria known as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria, now the worldwide, de facto definition of Total Quality.

    He subsequently helped to establish similar awards in Florida, Illinois, and Wisconsin (the Forward Award). In 1996, Bill was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for his contributions to quality engineering. During his tenure at NAE, he served on the Section 8 Industrial, Manufacturing and Operational Systems Engineering Peer Committee, where he was a strong advocate and role model for the “quality profession.” His talents were also recognized internationally.

    He was elected an academician and served as vice president of the prestigious International Academy of Quality, an organization whose membership is limited to 70 individuals worldwide. From 1966 to 1967, Bill was president of ASQ, an organization with more than 130,000 members, and, in 1994, he was granted an Honorary Membership, only the fourteenth in 50 years. He co-founded the ASQ Food, Drug and Cosmetics Division, sponsored the Education Division, and was founding editor of the Quality Management Journal. He was also president of the Midwest Planning Association and the Wisconsin Mathematics Council, an association of elementary and high school teachers.

    From ASQ, he received the Edwards Medal for Management Innovation and the Eugene L. Grant Award for Educational Improvement. Bill was honored by many organizations and received the American Deming Medal, the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (the organization’s highest honor and one not bestowed every year), and numerous other awards.

    He served as chair of ANSI Committee Z–16, and, at the time of his death, was chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Section in Industrial Science and Technology and chair of the Quality Assurance Executive Committee of the Institute of Food Technologists. During his life, he came into contact with many cultures, globally and domestically. He was always very proud of his service to the Oklahoma Choctaws and Seminoles, who made him an Honorary Chief. 

    Bill passed on his knowledge in many ways. He taught accounting, marketing, and business strategy in graduate schools of business at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Roosevelt University, and Marquette University and was adjunct lecturer at the University of Chicago. Bill is survived by his wife, Joan, of Algoma, Wisconsin; a daughter, Gretchen Wilson, of Algoma; a son, William Arthur Golomski Jr., of Green Bay; two grandchildren, William Zachary Wilson and Robert Troy Wilson; two sisters, Dorothy Golomski, of Milwaukee, and Arlene (Paul) Golomski-Zei of LaCrosse; a cousin Marcella (Robert) Kolacke of Edina, Minnesota; and a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Kurt and Patsy Hagen of Grove, Oklahoma.

    Bill Golomski was an admirable man, an extraordinary engineer, an outstanding role model, a devoted mentor, and a true friend to mankind, and his life’s work has left an indelible imprint. He will be remembered not only for benefiting humanity, but also for inspiring future generations of engineers.

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