United States of America
Maria Slomiana, Associate Professor, Widener University
Prof. Maria Slomiana was a highly recognized and dedicated educator. Born as Maryla Słomiana on Nov. 21, 1951, in Sanok, Poland, she completed a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degree in mechanical engineering (with a concentration on automotive engineering) from the Technical University of Warsaw in 1975. She came to the US and completed her MS degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, followed by her PhD from Drexel University in 1984, both in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics.
Dr. Slomiana joined the Widener Mechanical Engineering faculty in 1984. She was an active member of the School of Engineering, serving as the department chair from 2001–2009. During that time, she was instrumental in increasing student recruitment efforts and enrollment. At the university level, Slomiana held several faculty governance and committee roles, helping to advance Widener’s mission and positioned the university for continued success. Her educational focus was to challenge students while maintaining a respectful classroom environment in which material was rigorously presented and a real connection to the practice of engineering was maintained through applications and examples.
She was very successful in cooperation with the Boeing Company, which provided topics for senior projects for the student teams she advised and financial support. Based on that cooperation, Boeing offered resources to establish the university testing laboratory with helicopter simulation and flight control stands. She also cooperated with the Piasecki Aircraft Corp., gaining its support for senior projects as well. Widener is located in Chester, Pennsylvania, within five miles of both Boeing’s local rotorcraft plant and Piasecki. She also worked as a consultant for various businesses, including for Zlotnicki & Neuman Technical Consulting and Research Services, in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in 1988–2006.
Slomiana understood the transformative power of handson learning experiences and introduced her students to career paths and post-graduation opportunities by leveraging industry connections with leaders at Boeing, Piasecki and her professional networks, such as the Vertical Flight Society. She held the director post at the VFS Philadelphia Chapter board for the last 10 years, and was the Widener University VFS Student Chapter advisor for more than 20 years. For many years, she organized the Widener University students’ presence at the technical luncheons and dinner meetings organized by the VFS Philadelphia Chapter.
She joined VFS in 1992 and was also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Association of Polonia Technica.
Slomiana was very proud of her Polish heritage. She was an active member of the Polish American Congress Eastern Pennsylvania, Polish People University and Polish Heritage Society, and was a strong supporter of the Polish American Veteran Association in Philadelphia. For many years she attended seminars, meetings and social events organized for the Polish American community in Philadelphia, where she was a well-known and recognized person.
In recognition of her professional achievements, Dr. Slomiana was awarded several certificates of appreciation from university and professional societies. For several years she also won the first place in the Widener University Student Project competition for her student team supervision.
One of her former students commented online, “Thank you for setting me up on a path to success in Widener’s Mechanical Engineering program. I won’t forget you. You were a tough professor and expected excellence from us all, but that never stopped you from showing how much you cared for your students and treated us like your own.
You somehow could pick out if one of us was struggling with a concept from a classroom of 40. You made us better students of engineering and more importantly better individuals.” Another student remarked, “Dr. Slomiana made a huge impact on my life both professionally and personally. You couldn’t ask for a better educator, mentor and friend to have in your corner both in college and beyond.”
Prof. Maria Slomiana of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Widener University School of Engineering passed away on Aug. 10, 2021 after a courageous battle with cancer, at the age 69.
Society Update: Vertiflite November/December 2021