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Robert W. Mann

AKA Robert Wellesley Mann

Born: 1924
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY
Died: 16-Jun-2006
Location of death: Moultonborough, NH
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, GA

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Inventor, Engineer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Prosthetic devices

Military service: US Army Signal Corps (WWII)

Originally intending a career in weapons work, Robert W. Mann made key contributions to the internal power systems subsequently used in air-to-air and ground-to-air missiles, and took a leading role in establishing MIT's Computer-Aided Design (CAD) project. His conversion to work on rehabilitation research came after a chance meeting with John Kenneth Dupress, who had been blinded and maimed at the Battle of the Bulge. Mann then designed several of the first modern prosthetic devices, including a computer program for translating text into Braille (leading to the software known as MIT Braillembossand) and an electromechanical prosthetic elbow now called the Boston arm, which allows amputees to lift objects. He also invented a collapsible cane, helped develop the prosthetic joint that is still used in hip replacement, and worked on numerous electronic travel aids and devices to aid patients in rehabilitation. Before attending MIT, he worked as a draftsman at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. His wife, the scientist Margaret Florencourt, worked on the Whirlwind computer project at MIT, which developed core memory at MIT in the late 1940s. Mann was a first cousin of author Flannery O'Connor.

Brother: Kenneth Mann (biochemist)
Sister: Helene Mann Madigan
Sister: Virginia Mann Swartz
Wife: Margaret Florencourt (computer designer, m. 1945, d. 2002)
Daughter: Catherine L. Mann (economist)
Son: Robert W. Mann, Jr. (airline executive)

    High School: Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, NY (1937)
    University: BS Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1950)
    University: MS Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1951)
    University: PhD Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1957)
    Teacher: Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1953-63)
    Professor: Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1963-74)
    Professor: Biomedical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1974-96)

    ASME Medal 1977
    Bell Laboratories Draftsman (1937-47)
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    Institute of Medicine
    National Academy of Engineering
    National Academy of Sciences
    Irish Ancestry


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