Recent Kolbas gift supports ECE students academically and socially

image of Dr. Robert Kolbas with others

A parent of a former student wrote on Robert (Bob) M. Kolbas’ memorial website, “His effect on my son was enormous… As impossible as it seems, I miss a man I never met.”

Kolbas passed away in June 2020. He was a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) for 35 years. He served as the department head from 1995-2000 and as the interim head from 2008-2009. In continuing his long legacy of supporting students, he and his wife, Yan Kolbas, made a gift to the Kolbas MakerSpace, an initiative he helped get off the ground in 2017.

The ECE MakerSpaces are a valuable resource for students, where they can create and work on electronics projects for their classes, extracurriculars and personal interests.

Yan Kolbas shared that the MakerSpace initiative was important to Bob Kolbas because when he was a student, he wished he had access to equipment and materials to create and explore. He wanted students to be able to have and use the things they needed to be creative and to build without having to expend their personal funds.

At NC State, Bob Kolbas created a senior design course giving students the opportunity to make prototype circuits and systems.

“The MakerSpace was an extension of Bob’s desire to not only teach students how to make and prototype things, but actually provide them with access to the tools, instruments and components to enable students to build. This most recent gift in 2020 will be a critical resource enabling us to continue to supply the consumable components, tools and instruments used in the MakerSpace,” said Dan Stancil, ECE department head.

The support of the MakerSpace will be beneficial for students’ academic interests, but Bob Kolbas wished to support his students outside of their coursework and research as well.

“His recent gift also funds an annual social gathering for students for many years to come,” said Yan Kolbas.

Bob Kolbas’ love for teaching and his interactions with the students have had a profound impact on their professional and personal lives. Yan Kolbas has received messages from his former students from around the world who took the time to share how much they appreciated his patience, enthusiasm and interest in their academic and personal lives. One former Ph.D. student mentioned his dissertation completed in November 2020 is dedicated to his grandfather and to Bob Kolbas. This March, another former student dedicated a paper published in Science Advances to him.

“Students have shared that Dr. Kolbas opened their minds to new ideas and ways of thinking,” said Yan Kolbas. “Exploring, making a difference and helping others grow was what motivated Bob. He touched many lives, and he will be missed.”


Return to contents or download the Spring / Summer 2021 NC State Engineering magazine (PDF, 52.0 MB).

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