In Memoriam: Professor Herman R. Weed

Posted: January 6, 2012

Herman R. Weed, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, and founder of the Biomedical Engineering Program at The Ohio State University, passed away on January 5, 2012. He was 89.

Professor Weed came to Ohio State in 1946 and was an instructor while he received his master’s degree in electrical engineering. He developed industrial electronics and automatic controls programs for the college. With each new development in his field, he saw potential for more progress.

“I began to think about the fact that automatic controls needed to go through medicine, because the medical world was beginning to get a lot of equipment and new technology,” he explains. In 1971, he took advantage of funding from the National Science Foundation to develop a biomedical engineering program at Ohio State, where over the years he advised approximately 80 master’s and 30 doctoral degree students.

During that time, his vision broadened. He went to Egypt to help the NSF set up a biomedical engineering department at the University of Cairo, and later he worked with the Ford Foundation to build two electrical engineering departments at new universities in India.

Over the years, he witnessed plenty more growth while he worked through Project HOPE, (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere), which conducts medical training and health care education programs on five continents. He helped set up biomedical engineering programs at hospitals, schools and universities in 17 different countries while he continued to teach at Ohio State. He insisted that all of the programs have a hospital involved to provide practical learning for the students.

“He was the Johnny Appleseed of biomedical engineering, and he passed it around the world,” said Cynthia Roberts, Professor of BME.

Weed’s career achievements include being named a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and Outstanding Biomedical Engineer of the Year in 1987 by the American Society for Engineering Education.

He retired from Ohio State in 1996, having served 50 years. Survived by wife Sylvia, who received her bachelor’s degree in education from the university in 1971, they have three children, David Weed, Douglas Weed and Kathryn Weed Jablokow, all of whom also earned diplomas there.

“My wish for the biomedical engineering program was that it would be an operation where, instead of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, medicine, surgery and other departments being separate as they worked on research, they would be a group operation.

“It’s the thing we hoped for even from the very beginning — that it would eventually be a department,” he says. “Even before it was a department, it was still doing fantastic things.”

He will be missed, but will always be remembered. His name and honor will continue to be associated with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at OSU. The department has named its outstanding teaching award after him “The Herman R. Weed Excellence in Teaching Award.” This award is given annually to a BME faculty member chosen by BME students to recognize excellence and innovation in the classroom.

The Department of Biomedical Engineering extends our sympathies to Professor Weed’s wife of 65 years, Sylvia, and to the Weed Family.

Friends may call at the SOUTHWICK-GOOD & FORTKAMP FUNERAL CHAPEL, 3100 N. High St. on Sunday, 2:00 to 3:45 p.m., where service will follow at 4:00p.m. Interment at Schenck’s Cemetery, Howard, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University (fund #306379).

Read a complete obituary and guest book online at the Columbus Dispatch.