At 93 years old, Professor Robert “Bob” Schureman again exudes an infectious enthusiasm as he shares his fascination with design and plastic fabrication. Schureman, who pioneered the plastics program at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, retired after a 51-year career as a professor of materials and methods.
He spoke to Pasadena Now about his retirement and his lifelong passion for plastic manufacturing that has sustained his teaching career for more than five decades.
In 1965, Schureman was teaching at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa where he implemented the first comprehensive plastics program in California and a new foam mold building technology, opposed to the old plaster technique.
The program was very successful and it soon had students making canoes and racing cars. One of his 17-year-old students built a Formula 1 race car using this technology, won a state award, was invited to an automotive conference, and was featured in magazines for his efforts.
“The best part was the fiberglass,” Schureman said of his days at Estancia. “We had a 20-foot spray booth and a chopper gun. And you can imagine a 17- or 18-year-old boy or girl building an 18-foot Tahiti speedboat or a dune buggy, or making a mold for a canoe or kayak!
Gordon Buehrig, who designed the Cord 810 and later the Cord 812 for the Auburn Automobile Company in 1936 and 1937, heard about what was going on at Estancia, and he approached Schureman about possibly designing a scale car. foam. Schureman did, and soon Buehrig offered him the job he was retiring from at ArtCenter. It was in 1971.
“So it worked out so well for me and a wonderful experience,” Schureman said. “So that’s how I started there (ArtCenter).”
Schureman continued to teach at Estancia until 1985 after accepting the position at ArtCenter, where he introduced generations of students to the many manufacturing processes used in product design and development, staying on top of trends and trends. technologies in an ever-innovating field.
He also led the plastics program at CalState University in Long Beach for eight years until CalState shut down the entire industrial arts department. He retired from CalState as an associate professor and chair of the plastics department.
“When I was in college, I heard the word CNC mill and got a CNC mill,” Schureman said. “My students picked up on that very quickly – I…transferred that program to ArtCenter College. And then the same with 3D modeling. There weren’t many companies back then that could afford it. But I’ve asked companies that have done it to come to the ArtCenter lecture to my students and say, “This is the future of model design and model making.
When ArtCenter College of Design opened ArtCenter Europe in Switzerland in 1986, Schureman was on the faculty and taught there for 10 years, which he considers “an amazing experience.”
“I wish we had done more of that because Switzerland is a neutral country, so we had students from all over Europe – Italy, Norway, France and Germany,” he recalls. “It was a great experience for everyone and I made wonderful contacts. That’s part of the teaching: making wonderful connections and exposing the minds of young people to internship opportunities and future career opportunities. Wonderful, wonderful experience.
Describing his students’ creativity as “breathtaking”, he hopes his enthusiasm will inspire them to explore and create.
“Well, the first piece of advice I would give to all my young students and all young people: enthusiasm, enthusiasm for your career, then the mixture, is creativity and reflection.”
When he retired from ArtCenter at age 93 (he celebrated his birthday on April 7), Schureman said it was a “crying” moment – heartwarming but sad in a way, because he had considered the ArtCenter family.
“Compared to universities, you are a number. But at ArtCenter, you are part of the family. It’s so cool. And it is difficult, yes. It was a tearjerker for me and a tearjerker for some students,” he said of his last day at ArtCenter. “At lunchtime, some of the faculty and ArtCenter’s new president (and CEO), Karen Hofmann, we all got together and cried some more. Now, some of them were my students, but the new president was my student many years ago and…what a wonderful thing!
Before retiring, Schureman developed a pattern and design program at Irvine Valley College.
He continues to be a consultant for the Advanced Technology and Research program at Tustin’s Advanced Technical Education Park.