Memorial service set for engineering professor Fred Sitkins

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of Frederick Z. Sitkins.

Frederick Z. Sitkins

Frederick Z. Sitkins, professor emeritus of engineering design, manufacturing and management systems, died Nov. 7 in Kalamazoo after a relatively brief illness. He was 78.

Sitkins retired in August, after 36 years of service to WMU, but he was continuing to teach this fall, offering one of his favorite classes—Manufacturing Fabrication, Assembly and Finishing.

Frederick Z. Sitkins

A 1959 WMU alumnus, Sitkins began his professional life as a high school and community college teacher in the Dearborn area. From 1972 to 1979, Sitkins owned and was CEO of Sitco Manufacturing.

In 1979, he returned to Kalamazoo to accept an offer for what was intended to be a two-year appointment as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 1984, he became a faculty member in the Department of Engineering Technology, earning the rank of associate professor in 1995 and serving for two years as department chair. He became a full professor in 1998 and retired from the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems.

Throughout his WMU career, Sitkins maintained an active schedule of service to his college, university, state and profession. He was director of cooperative education for the engineering college and a longtime advisor to its Sunseeker solar race car team. He served as FIRST Robotics Competition advisor and judge and was active with ABET—the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In 2003 and in honor of WMU's Centennial, he served as faculty advisor to a team of students who recreated WMU's historic trolley that once traveled up and down Prospect Hill.

The holder of several patents, he was appointed by Gov. John Engler to the Governor's Innovation Forum. He also was honored multiple times by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, winning the President's Award and a Distinguished Service Award.

Sitkins was long active with Bronco athletics and served as chair of the Athletic Board, faculty representative to the NCAA and chair of the University's Mike Gary Athletic Fund drive. In 2010, he was honored as WMU "W" Club Man of the Year.

In addition to earning his bachelor's degree in industrial education from WMU, he earned a master's degree in vocational education from Eastern Michigan University.

Services and remembrances

A memorial service to celebrate Sitkins' life is planned for 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at Zion Lutheran Church, 2122 Bronson Blvd. Friends and colleagues are asked to gather and meet with his family from 2 to 4 p.m. at the same location. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be directed to the WMU Foundation in Sitkins' memory.