UToledo to Celebrate Life of Engineer Benefactor with Public Memorial

August 17, 2021 | News, UToday, Alumni, Engineering
By Christine Billau

The University of Toledo is hosting a memorial service to celebrate the life and legacy of Norman Nitschke at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, in Nitschke Auditorium.

Nitschke, an engineer and inventor who generously supported the UToledo College of Engineering, died Sunday, Feb. 14. He was 100 years old.

Speakers include Nitschke’s son Stephen Nitschke; UToledo President Gregory Postel; U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur; UToledo College of Engineering Dean Mike Toole; Oregon Institute of Technology President Nagi Naganathan, who previously served UToledo for 30 years as an engineering faculty member, dean and interim president; and Nitschke’s fellow philanthropists, Bob Savage and Stan Joehlin.

The event is followed by a reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on the first floor of Nitschke Hall.

“We will always be thankful for the generous support Norm provided the College of Engineering and the University,” Toole said. “He recognized the need to invest in our facilities to attract the best faculty and students here to northwest Ohio and also supported their success. There is not a week that goes by when I do not stop to be thankful for the Nitschke Building and Auditorium. These buildings play such a central role in letting us launch transformative careers in engineering.”

Nitschke is known for his work advancing glass tempering technology and he was a leader in developing safety glass fabrication processes and standards. He and his business partner, the late Harold McMaster, used their knowledge and experience in the glass industry to harness solar energy. They founded Glasstech Solar and then Solar Cells Inc., which developed the thin-film cadmium telluride coating technology that launched First Solar in the solar energy business.

In recognition of his support for UToledo’s engineering programs, UToledo named Nitschke Hall, Nitschke Auditorium and the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex in his honor.

Nitschke Hall, the new engineering building added to campus in 1995, was dedicated in his honor in recognition of a $1.75 million donation to the project. The $2.5 million Norman and Lois Nitschke Auditorium was added in 1997.

He provided the final $1 million match needed to fund the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex, a technology business incubator on campus that was dedicated in 2010.

Nitschke also supported student scholarships and other UToledo fundraising initiatives throughout his lifetime.

Nitschke was born April 2, 1920, in Mishawaka, Ind., and grew up in East Toledo and graduated from Waite High School. He attended business and engineering classes at UToledo before completing bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and engineering physics from the University of Michigan.

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