Ronald John Placek

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  • "I was Ron's "cubemate" when he worked at GE on the Ford..."
    - Ron VanDenburgh
  • "My condolences go out to "Dr. Ron"'s family. I met Ron..."
  • "I worked first with Ron in 1968. He was the epitome of what..."
    - Mike Bishop
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    - Marie Klucina
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    - Patrick Ahearn
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Ronald John Placek NiskayunaRonald John Placek (Dr. Ron), 77, passed away suddenly on December 21 in Carbondale, Colorado. Born in Chicago, Illinois, on May 2, 1935, Ron attended Lane Technical High School, a public school where students graduated with the unique combination of a skilled trade and college prep courses. Ron received a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a M.S. and Ph. D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois. Prior to moving to Schenectady, he was an associate professor at the U. of I. College of Engineering where he taught machine design and stress analysis and became a contributor to the first of a series of curriculum guides in engineering technology for junior colleges. In 1967, Ron was one of 27 professors named by the Ford Foundation as a recipient of a 15-month residency in industry. The program enabled university professors to gain experience in high levels of decision making in industry and encouraged closer relations between engineering practice and teaching. Ron served his residency at GE, then went back to the U. of I. for a year. In 1969, he returned to GE to serve as manager of applied mechanics. In 1981, Ron became manager of GE's bucket and rotor design with the responsibility for the design of all steam turbine rotating components. During this period, new high efficiency buckets were introduced and turbine designs included units as large as 1100MW. He also served as project manager for a special task force on stress corrosion cracking of nuclear wheels. In 1987, Ron became manger of GE's Steam Turbine Generator Service Engineering, providing technical support to field engineers who maintained over 800 units worldwide. In 1995, Ron was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his contributions to the development and design of steam turbines. Ron is the author of the book Technical Mathematics with Calculus published by Prentice Hall in 1968 and used as a textbook for junior college students in engineering technology programs. He also co-authored a number of technical papers and holds several patents. Upon his retirement from GE in 1995, Ron started his own consulting business, working for clients throughout the U.S., England and Canada for 15 years. In addition to his work, Ron was an avid skier, hiker and canoeist and treasured the memory of helping his son, John build his first log house in the mountains of Marble, Colorado. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia, with whom he would have celebrated 52 years of marriage on January 21; son, John (Catherine) and beloved granddaughter, Bridget of Carbondale, Colorado; his brother, Bob Placek (Joyce); a nephew and four nieces. He was predeceased by his parents, Walter and Antoinette Placek. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 26, at the Community Reformed Church of Colonie, 701 Sand Creek Road in Colonie, followed by a reception at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made in Ron's name to Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar, 3 Pine West Plaza, Suite 305, Washington Avenue Extension, Albany, NY 12205. The program provides comprehensive academic and mentoring support to disadvantaged inner city high school students in Schenectady, Albany and Troy, helping them graduate from high school and gain entry to the college of their choice. Academic and financial support continues throughout college. Online condolences may be expressed at

Published in The Daily Gazette Co. from Jan. 24 to Jan. 25, 2013