Toby’s Bio

Toby Rossmann was born at the tender age of three in the hard scrabble streets of Los Gatos, California. From his unassuming beginnings, he rose to the lofty status of captain of industry where he ruled over the world’s sassafras trade with an iron fist. Later, he was implicated in the infamous “Open Sasparilla” incident of 1977 and busted back down to shipping clerk, which came as shock to his over-inflated sense of self. Thus, started the downward spiral of hubris and shame.

Then I turned four, started kindergarten, and things kind of picked up. My youth was filled with earthly delights including my good friends, Jon Atkinson and James Botha. When you grow up in Los Gatos, things are pretty rosy, so there are no complaints. I did a lot of swimming, music (piano, then saxophone), and learning.

High school got me involved with a new crowd of ruffians. Daniel Thomas, Jeff Hofmann, and Tom Puterbaugh all contributed to the delinquency of a minor. I involved myself with the marching band, jazz choir, musical theatre, and swimming. Somewhere in there I also learned how to skank, party, and explode various organic matter with high density liquid fuels. This likely led me to my chosen profession. At the tender age of seven, you could have asked me what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Some people are still trying to answer this question (see George Rossmann). Quite firmly I would have answered that I wanted to be either a special effects coordinator (did someone see Empire Strikes Back recently?) or an aerospace engineer. After severely disappointing my mother by choosing the least interesting path, the latter took hold and appears to be influencing me to this day.

College was next where I tried to continue all the enjoyable things I participated in during high school. This, of course, proved impossible, because the great University of California at Berkeley has too much to offer. Along with becoming a mechanical engineer, I enjoyed being a part of the Cal Band which engenders the GO BEARS! sprit better than almost all other organizations. I’ll always cheer for CAL, no matter what the sport. Several of by best mates share these passions. Most of them were my roommates at one time or another. During college, my good friend Lance Held tolerated me for two years in the infamous Rapa Nui pad. Then we moved to the big time with four other guys to the Spruce House (all my good friends John Owens, Nick Khadder, Yee Lee, and Mark Gervase). This would prove to be my most enjoyable year of college. 6 men, one house, 30 trips to Costco, and a lot of great memories. I also got my first taste of research working for Peggy Hou in Materials Science at LBL and with Dorian Liepmann in the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory.

After Berkeley, I moved a scant 40 miles southwest to pursue graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. There I enjoyed the company of the same John Owens as well as Vijit Sabnis and Hank Jones at the Raines and then the Oakley House. I also made some great friends in the ME department in the short 6 years that I spent there. I worked with Professors Ron Hanson and Godfrey Mungal delving into the fluid mechanics of mixing layers at very high Mach numbers. Somewhere in there I convinced the beautiful and talented Jenn Stroud that I was worthy of something other than ridicule.

After graduate school, we moved to Pasadena where I continued doing research and development on laser diagnostics and fluid mechanics with the folks at Advanced Projects Research, Inc. (APRI). The projects there also allowed me to work closely with Professor Joe Shepherd in the Explosion Dynamics Laboratory at CalTech.

After two years in Southern California (which isn’t as bad as people from Northern California make it out to be) and several faculty interviews later, I decided to take a job as an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering . I can usually be found there working with my graduate students or teaching classes.

New Jersey is a wonderful place (as I knew from my many summers here as a child) and I have enjoyed exploring it further with Jenn and Leda. We enjoy camping in the Pine Barrens, canoeing on the Delaware, visiting NYC, and touring the rest of the state.    Send article as PDF   

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