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Herb Voelcker

  • Herb Voelcker
  • Dept: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Title: Charles W. Lake, Jr. Professor of Engineering Emeritus
  • Address: 410 Upson Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-9654
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Professor Voelcker's research during a 60-year career has ranged over radio propagation, aural perception, and bandwidth compression in the 1950s, modulation theory and digital signal processing in the 1960s; computer science and solid modeling in the 1970s; machine tools and NC programming systems in the 1980s, and in the 1990s parallel computation, dimensional tolerancing, and mechanical design. He is best known for leading the research team that developed mathematical foundations and core algorithms for solid modeling, which is the enabling technology for modern mechanical CAD. Since his pro forma retirement in 2000, Professor Voelcker's part-time technical work has been focused mainly on assembly modeling and variation control in mechanical design and manufacturing.

Interspersed with the technical flurry were seven years of Army service, lightweight rowing at MIT, Olympic riflery in the 1956 Games, and several decades of recreational boating and occasional boat building.

Current Projects

  • Working within ASME Committee Y14.5.1 to provide mathematical support for a new edition of the national tolerancing standard,
  • trying to generalize and provide foundations for geometric dimensioning and tolerancing ('GD&T'), and
  • writing and refining, through a coupled M.Eng course, a 'How to understand and do GD&T' Guide.

Selected Publications

  • H. B. Voelcker, "Toward a unified theory of modulation --  Part  I: Phase-envelope  relationships",  pp. 340-353, and Part  II: Zero manipulation", pp. 735-755, PROC. IEEE,  vol. 54, , March 1966 & May 1966.
  • H. B. Voelcker  and  A. A. G. Requicha,  "Geometric  modelling   of mechanical  parts  and  processes", IEEE COMPUTER, vol. 10, no. 12,  pp. 48-57, December l977.
  • H. B. Voelcker, A. A. G. Requicha, N. L. Laurance, E. E. Hartquist, R. J. Marisa, "CNC machining: simulation, verification, programming, planning, communication and control", Proc. 13th NSF Con­ference on Production Research and Techno­logy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; pp. 243-251, November 1986.
  • G. Kedem and H. B. Voelcker, "The RayCasting Project: Massively parallel computation for mechanical de­sign & manufacturing", Proc. NSF Conference on Experimental Research in Computer Systems, Ed. L. Snyder, pp. 69-88; National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA, June 1996.
  • H. B. Voelcker, Dimensional Tolerancing in Mechanical Design, Monograph in process, Cornell University, 2014.

Selected Awards and Honors

Professor Voelcker is a Life Fellow of both ASME and IEEE, and has been awarded research prizes, teaching prizes, best-paper prizes, fellowships, and distinguished-visitor appointments. His recent honors include...

  • The 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award by ASME's CIE (Computers & Information in Engineering) Division.
  • Named '2009 Master of Manufacturing' by Manufacturing Engineering, the magazine of SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers).
  • In 2007 the inaugural Prix Bezier, the senior prize of the International Solid Modeling Society, for fundamental contributions to solid modeling (with A.A.G. Requicha, one of Professor Voelcker's early PhD students).


  • SB (Mechanical Engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1951.
  • SM (Electrical Engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1954.
  • PhD (Engineering) & DIC (Electrical Engineering), Imperial College of Science & Technology (London), 1961.