Robert (Bob) Steffes has skillfully guided ISU students and faculty through thousands of concrete tests, exams, and procedures at the ISU Portland Cement Concrete Research Laboratory (PCC Lab). At the end of July, 2018, Bob will retire from the PCC Lab manager position, where he spent 15 years. During his years in the PCC Lab, research activities have increased approximately ten-fold.
When asked what he'll remember most about his time at ISU, Bob replied, “The satisfaction from teaching and helping students in research operations and seeing them move forward with some of my mentoring. The many invitations I received from students I worked with, to attend their research defense presentations, for graduation. The challenging demands to be creative, and design and build unique equipment for multiple, unique research needs. The working with the many international students while having the benefit of knowing their culture from my having previously worked in their country. The many times, when things were, ‘going south,’ having to keep cool, and having to tell myself “this (ISU) is an institution of learning, and that is what they (the students) are here for.” This time in my life, to make the decision to ‘walk away from this awesome job,’ by my choice.”
Steffes was an integral player in a multitude of concrete projects involving the National Concrete Pavement Technology Center. His wide-ranging duties as laboratory manager covered every aspect of concrete and concrete research, and even included welcoming elementary and high school students to the PCC Lab for workshops that showcased the many uses of Portland cement concrete and the value of civil engineering as a career.
Bob joined InTrans and ISU as a research engineer after retiring from 17 years in Materials Research in the Iowa DOT. Prior to that he amassed 17 years of overseas oil rig engineering experience with a French company, Schlumberger, following his graduation from Colorado State University with his M.E. degree.
When asked what comes next for him, Bob replied: “Next, is the move to Olathe, Kansas, to spend time with kids and grandkids, being active Grandpa, and then, also adjusting to missing the awesome 32 years living in the Ames, Iowa, community.”
The InTrans staff join Bob's ISU colleagues in offering hearty thanks and sincere appreciation for his years of stellar service to the transportation community.