Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Kurt Rolle

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Dr. Kurt Rolle
March 16, 2018

Dr. Kurt Rolle, professor of mechanical engineering, has worked at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville since 1980. Prior to his arrival to campus, he taught at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio as well as in Alberta, Canada. After serving UW-Platteville’s mechanical engineering department for 38 years, including 10 years as the department chair, Rolle plans to retire at the end of the academic year and enjoy his 60-acre property outside of Platteville.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Algoma, Wisconsin, but when I was three years old, my parents and I moved to east central Indiana. My father got a better job there and that is where I grew up. Having grown up in that area, I chose to attend Purdue University before moving to Dayton, Ohio. I have now been in Platteville longer than I have been anywhere else. I think the area is rural enough for me, and I really enjoy that part.

As a professor, what is the secret to success that you have found in your classroom?

Students think I am kidding when I tell them that the main reason that I am in the classroom is to learn from them. If you don’t like people, you might as well get out of teaching. You have to love being with the students.

If you didn’t become a teacher, what would you have done?

I have no idea. I worked in industry and government for six years, and in both of those instances, it was okay but I didn’t really feel inspired or even challenged. They were pretty mundane, engineering tasks. Then about seven years in, I had the opportunity to teach. In my high school and undergraduate careers, I was not a fan of getting up in front of a group. But since I received the opportunity to do it, I have enjoyed teaching ever since. It is a good mix because I still have opportunities to be in the field with consulting.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments during your time at UW-Platteville?

I have six children and 20 grandchildren. That is my gift to myself. I appreciate all of them and they have made my life richer. As far as academic accomplishments, I have written two textbooks and my autobiographical sketch. One of my textbooks is in the second edition, and my thermodynamics text is in its seventh edition with two Spanish translations.

What is one thing that you wish more people knew about the mechanical engineering department at UW-Platteville?

We are the biggest department on campus. I think we have a good, quality set of students. They go out and get good positions in the field. It is the biggest major on campus and has been for quite some time.

Interview conducted by Dalton Miles, Student Writer, Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact


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