James Brandeberry, founding dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, honored with memorial plaque

From left: Connor Flanegin, Tammy Flanegin, Sharon Brandeberry, Kelly Brandeberry and Keegan Flanegin participated in a ceremony unveiling a memorial plaque for James Brandeberry, the founding dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. (Photos by Erin Pence)

The late James Brandeberry, the founding dean of Wright State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, was honored with a memorial plaque that will be installed in the lobby of the Russ Engineering Center.

The plaque was unveiled May 3 during the college’s Scholastic Recognition and Networking Reception in the Student Union Apollo Room.

“We know that Dr. Brandeberry will always be watching over this college and we hope that this memorial will remind us and future members of this college where we began,” said Brian Rigling, the college’s interim dean.

Attending the ceremony were Brandeberry’s wife, Sharon; daughters Kelly Brandeberry and Tammy Flanegin; and grandsons Keegan and Connor Flanegin.

Brandeberry joined the engineering faculty at Wright State in 1969 and served as dean for 19 years.

When he first arrived, the university only offered a systems engineering program and engineering physics. But it was soon offering mechanical and electrical engineering options and programs in biomedical engineering, material science and engineering, and human factors engineering. In the early 1970s, a computer science program was started and an option in computer engineering added.

In 1983, Brandeberry was named interim director of the newly formed School of Engineering, which moved from Fawcett Hall into what is now the Mathematics and Microbiological Sciences Building.

In 1986, President Paige Mulholland made engineering and computer science a full-fledged college and named Brandeberry dean. At about the same time, there were plans to construct a new science building, with engineering slated to move into the space that the science college vacated. But Mulholland decided the new building should be for engineering.

Construction of the engineering building was bankrolled by state funding and private donations. It was one of the first major fundraising efforts of the university.

The largest single private donation came from Fritz Russ, an engineer and owner of Systems Research Laboratories. The contribution resulted in Wright State naming the building after Russ.

The new Russ Engineering Center included a towering atrium with balconies trimmed with shiny red railings, a spacious student lounge, a rooftop patio off of a conference room and a basement to house extra labs and student workspaces. The college moved in to its new home in 1992.

From left: Brian Rigling, Sharon Brandeberry, Kelly Brandeberry and Tammy Flanegin.

Backed by local business and community leaders, Wright State established a Ph.D. engineering program in the late 1990s as part of a joint initiative with the University of Dayton and the Air Force Institute of Technology as well as the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University.

Today, the college is housed in a modern, sprawling collection of classrooms and laboratories in Russ, the Joshi Research Center and the Neuroscience Engineering Collaboration Building. It offers 10 different bachelor’s degrees, 11 master’s degrees and three doctoral degrees.

“I’m proud of the whole engineering and computer science college,” Brandeberry said in a 2017 interview.

Brandeberry passed away in September 2018.

“There is no denying the impact that Dr. Brandeberry had during his lifetime, and that impact will ripple forward in the future,” said Rigling.

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