Keith M. Gardiner, 88, professor emeritus in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, passed away on May 24, 2021. 

Over more than three decades at Lehigh University (1987-2018), Gardiner taught courses in organizational planning and control, manufacturing management and systems, micromanufacturing, and materials science.

He served as the director of the former Center for Manufacturing Systems Engineering (MSE) and its associated cross-disciplinary Master of Science program. The MSE program at Lehigh was initiated in 1984 through a $2 million grant from the IBM Corporation to educate engineers and managers working in industry in the principles and practices of modern manufacturing. The Lehigh grant was one of five awarded out of more than 100 proposals submitted by U.S. universities.

Gardiner became the center’s director in 1990 and served until the program was phased out in the late 2010s. During his tenure, a distance education version of the MSE program was started, and manufacturing systems engineering was taught to industrial students all over the country, according to Mikell Groover, Lehigh ISE professor emeritus. “Keith was the driving force behind the MSE program during most of its existence.”

ISE Professor Emory Zimmers adds, “As I recall, Keith was particularly effective when he would draw on his broad base of manufacturing experiences to provide examples in both the strategic and tactical components of courses and industrial seminars that he taught.”

Gardiner also coordinated and implemented the first-year practical engineering course, Introduction to Engineering Practice, which was launched in 2003 and is still a requirement for engineering students today. 

Gardiner’s research areas included the design of products, processes, and systems; microelectronics manufacturing and systems; organization and management; and continuous improvement. He was particularly interested in design issues relating to organizations, products, processes, and systems; relationships between materials and process selections and the manufacturing systems interactions; micromanufacturing; economic, environmental, socio-technological, and sustainability issues associated with future manufacturing systems; technology transfer; and the field of bioengineering. He authored textbook chapters and presented at manufacturing conferences.  

Gardiner also devoted energies to curriculum development and the study of issues related to the education of the future workforce, writing and contributing to papers published in the proceedings of multiple American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conferences. 

In 1993, he was elected to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (now SME) College of Fellows, honoring his outstanding contributions to the social, technological, and educational aspects of the manufacturing profession. He also received the organization’s Joseph A. Siegel Service Award in 2003.

Gardiner was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the international honor society Phi Beta Delta, and the scientific research honor society Sigma Xi.

He was the author of numerous articles published in professional journals and he served in editorial roles for publications such as the Journal of Electronics Manufacturing, Journal of Manufacturing Systems, and the Journal of Manufacturing Processes

He was born on March 30, 1933, near Manchester in the United Kingdom. He studied metallurgy at Manchester College, earning a BS in 1953 and a PhD in 1957. He was a Registered Professional Engineer (PE) in Manufacturing Engineering and a Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE). 

Early in his career, Gardiner worked on nuclear fuels development in the Atomic Power Division of the English Electric Company. He also worked on manufacturing methods development in the Aero Engine Division of Rolls-Royce, where he studied machining processes for advanced gas turbine materials and the early use of computers to analyze metal-cutting data.

Prior to joining Lehigh—initially as visiting professor, before becoming a permanent faculty member in 1989—he spent 21 years at IBM, where he served in the company’s manufacturing research labs in the UK and in semiconductor development activities in Vermont. He also helped create and operate the IBM’s corporate Manufacturing Technology Institute, developing, delivering, and managing education programs and curricula. He also taught mechanical engineering as an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont and a visiting professor at Southern University. 

Gardiner led a study of business and industry in Pakistan on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1983.

He resided in Bethlehem, PA, and was a former chair of the Lehigh Valley Engineering Council and the Engineers’ Club of the Lehigh Valley. He was recognized as Engineer of the Year by the Lehigh Valley chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers in 2004. 

Gardiner is survived by his daughter, Helen Gardiner-Parks, of Charlotte, NC, and her three children, as well as by his wife, Bernice Bult Gardiner, of Bethlehem, and her four children and five grandchildren.