Robin Hendricks '17G, a research scientist with Lehigh's Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center, passed away August 5, 2023, after battling a long illness.

Over his 15-year career at Lehigh, Hendricks became a valued and respected member of the civil and structural engineering community—conducting research, serving as industrial testing supervisor at Fritz Engineering Laboratory, and pursuing graduate studies. He also co-authored research papers on topics such as composite steel bridges and precast concrete panel connections.

His colleagues remembered him as a lifelong learner, a skilled researcher, and a caring friend. 

“Our staff, faculty, and graduate students were devastated to learn that Robin passed away, even though we knew he was seriously ill,” said ATLSS Director Richard Sause, Lehigh’s Joseph T. Stuart Professor of Structural Engineering. “His colleagues have tremendous affection for him. Robin was great at his work, kind, and reliable. We miss him greatly.”

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 19, at Packer Memorial Church (18 University Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015), with a reception and refreshments immediately following within Fritz Lab (13 E. Packer Avenue) until 5 p.m. Lehigh colleagues and associates are invited to attend. 

Hendricks joined Lehigh as a research scientist in structural engineering in 2008 shortly after earning his BS in physics from Kutztown University. In 2012, he embarked upon part-time graduate study with Lehigh's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, earning his master’s degree in 2017. In 2013, he took on responsibility for all industry-sponsored structural testing projects in Fritz Lab.

“Robin worked on a variety of research and commercial testing efforts for the center over the past 15 years,” said Clay Naito, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who advised Hendricks during his master’s studies. “I had the good fortune to work with Robin on a number of those research projects. One that stands out is a project where we developed an approach for assessing the service life of connections used in construction of parking structures. The research ended up serving as his master's thesis and received the Korn Award from the Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute.”

In his role as industrial testing supervisor, Hendricks juggled multiple duties including developing   proposals, engineering custom test setups, coordinating schedules with laboratory staff, supervising testing, and preparing technical reports, said Ian Hodgson ’94 ’96G, senior research engineer and ATLSS industrial testing manager. 

“Robin developed strong relationships with these sponsors through his calm demeanor, technical capability, and can-do attitude,” said Hodgson, who worked closely with Hendricks over the years. “An excellent researcher, Robin never backed away from challenging problems. He sought out academically meaningful research opportunities and enjoyed working with Lehigh faculty to advance the state of knowledge. Nevertheless, Robin always tackled even mundane projects with thoroughness and care, and as a result earned the respect of faculty, staff, and industry partners alike. He was a lifelong learner.”

After completing his master’s degree, Hendricks continued his advanced studies in structural engineering through doctoral research in areas such as the mechanics and modeling of steel connections and probabilistic modeling. Paolo Bocchini, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, served as his advisor.

“I was immensely honored when Robin asked me to join our team for his doctoral work,” said Bocchini. “Our team works mostly on mathematical and computational modeling, so I was very happy to collaborate with a person like Robin who could contribute laboratory experience and insight. The truth is that Robin was an all-around scientist, who could span any area of engineering research. His day job consisted in supervising testing in a world-class experimental facility, but he also took graduate courses in the department of mathematics to strengthen his background in theory of probability, and he left a mark there too. My collaborators from the math department often mention Robin as an example of an exceptional engineering student, who can shine in pure math classes.”

Hendricks’ colleagues said the impact of his professional accomplishments was matched by his upbeat attitude and warm personality.  

“I enjoyed talking with Robin and loved his sense of humor,” said Sause. “For many years Robin and I played ice hockey together, on a local team and in pickup games. As a hockey player, just as in the rest of life, Robin was a great teammate—hard-working, talented, tuned-in to those around him, and fun to be with.”

Outside of work, “Robin and I shared our love of mountain biking and paddle boarding,” said Naito. “We spent many days exploring the trails of South Mountain and the waterways of the region. He was a fantastic researcher, a kind and peaceful soul, and a great friend.”

Hendricks “was a delightful person, always optimistic and transmitting positive energy and vibes, even in the face of adversities,” said Bocchini. “We will all miss him, and always remember him with admiration and love.”