Baylor University Mourns Passing of Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering

July 6, 2015
Dr. Tommie ThompsonTommie Thompson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Baylor University

WACO, Texas (July 6, 2015) - Baylor University is mourning the passing of Tommie R. Thompson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, who died June 29, 2015, surrounded by family and friends.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date and held at Austin Avenue United Methodist Church in Waco.

Please keep the Thompson family, as well as his colleagues and former students, in your thoughts and prayers.

Dr. Thompson earned his B.S. from Lamar University, an M.S. from Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He was a respected professor of mechanical engineering in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, retiring from the university in 2008 after 25 years of service.

“Dr. Thompson was a teaching legend in the mechanical engineering department,” said Robert T. Doty, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering. “His favorite expression when explaining difficult concepts to his students was it is a ‘piece of cake.’ He was demanding, yet fair and precise. His students always said they learned more from Dr. ‘T’ than anyone else.”

Thompson was a licensed professional engineer and was active in the community, organizing and implementing the MathCounts competition at Baylor for area junior high students and proctoring the Fundamentals Engineering Exam for graduating Baylor engineering students. He was named Engineer of the Year in 1995 by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers Central Texas Chapter. He also was an accomplished photographer who enjoyed taking road trips with his wife, Lynda, while photographing landscapes and nature.

“He truly made a difference in the lives of his Baylor students, and he will be missed by all,” Doty said.

“Dr. Thompson joined the engineering program in 1983 when it was very young. Throughout his time here, he was a stalwart performer, always willing to teach whatever classes in solid mechanics that were needed,” said William Jordan, Ph.D., P.E., chair of the mechanical engineering department. “He was very helpful to me when I joined Baylor in 2005 and we both taught different sections of the same course. This was quite typical of his behavior, helping others when needed. His strong teaching of solid mechanics has helped several generations of students to do well in their future careers.”

Thompson’s former student Yasaman Shirazi, Ph.D., who earned her B.S.M.E. from Baylor in 2008, works for the Space Bioscience Division-NASA Ames Research Center, at Moffett Field in California. She said that to become a mechanical engineer, students had to "survive and conquer ‘Tommie T.’”

“[That] was what every freshman was told upon their arrival to the Baylor School of Engineering and Computer Science, which, by the way, was not just a rumor,” Shirazi said. “Dr. Thompson taught some of the most fundamental mechanical engineering courses in a very structured manner, which was intuitive to learn and hard to forget. I was also fortunate to get to know him on a personal level as a kind and caring friend, and always enjoyed looking at his photography collections while chatting about road trips, nature and listening to his stories. Dr. Thompson’s sophisticated and intricate approach to understanding and then solving problems is engraved in my brain and has impacted my personal, as well as professional, life as an engineer and a scientist.”

Survivors include his wife; daughter, Alice Thompson and Carrick, of Louisville, Kentucky; brother, John R. Thompson of Tulsa; brother and sister-in-law, Jerry and Judy Bragg, as well as other family members.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may to be made to Providence Hospice of Waco or the charity of one’s choice.

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