Alumnus visits campus 72 years after earning degree

June 22, 2012

DETROIT (June 22, 2012) – Wayne State University College of Engineering alumnus George B. Newitt graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1940. Since that time, the only glimpses he’s had of campus have been from his car on 1-96 when traveling between his native town of Grosse Pointe and his longtime Chicago residence.

He stopped to take a tour of his alma mater in May.

“I decided to visit last month to explore the programs I read about in the Wayne State engineering magazine,” Newitt said.

The trip triggered a host of memories for Newitt, whose brother John H. Newitt joined him in his visit.

“I attended in the depression-era days,” he said. “It was a difficult time. I had little time for more than classes, study and work. I did participate in the Wayne chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.”

Post-graduation in 1940, Newitt became a valuable asset to America’s war efforts through a job with the U.S. Rubber
Co. He used his engineering education and experience to research and develop self-sealing fuel tanks for combat aircraft.

“The German air force had tanks that helped prevent fires from gunfire, and our armed forces wanted them,” he said. “My engineering background helped me in developing tank liners that prevented the fuel from contacting the rubber until it was broken by the bullet. I was exempt from the draft as essential to the war effort.”

After the war ended, Newitt enrolled in law school at the University of Notre Dame. He earned his J.D. and went on to combine his engineering and law backgrounds, working as a successful intellectual property trial lawyer in Chicago for 43 years.

“I’ve led an interesting life,” Newitt said. “I’m thankful for my experience at Wayne as it helped lead me to where I am today.”

He added, “It’s somewhat surreal being back on campus after all this time. I’m really impressed with the nanotechnology used and the college’s collaboration with the medical school. Working with crystals of such tiny size is astounding.”

Though he may not stop along the way on every trip home, Newitt says he’s more apt to visit the college again in the near future.

“I had a great time reminiscing and learning about new technologies at the College of Engineering,” he said. “I look forward to keeping in touch through Exemplar, an excellent publication.”

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 31,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit