Robert L. Norton earned undergraduate degrees in both mechanical engineering and industrial technology at Northeastern University and an MS in engineering design at Tufts University. He is a registered professional engineer in Massachusetts. He has extensive industrial experience in engineering design and manufacturing and many years’ experience teaching mechanical engineering, engineering design, computer science, and related subjects at Northeastern University, Tufts University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
At Polaroid Corporation for 10 years, he designed cameras, related mechanisms, and high-speed automated machinery. He spent three years at Jet Spray Cooler Inc., designing food-handling machinery and products. For five years he helped develop artificial-heart and noninvasive assisted-circulation (counterpulsation) devices at the Tufts New England Medical Center and Boston City Hospital. Since leaving industry to join academia, he has continued as an independent consultant on engineering projects ranging from disposable medical products to high-speed production machinery. He holds 13 U.S. patents.
Norton has been on the faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute since 1981 and is currently the Milton P. Higgins II Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Russell P. Searle Distinguished Instructor, Head of the Design Group in that department, and the Director of the Gillette Project Center at WPI. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in mechanical engineering with emphasis on design, kinematics, vibrations, and dynamics of machinery.
He is the author of numerous technical papers and journal articles covering kinematics, dynamics of machinery, cam design and manufacturing, computers in education, and engineering education and of the texts Design of Machinery, Machine Design: An Integrated Approach and the Cam Design and Manufacturing Handbook. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers. But, since his main interest is in teaching, he is most proud of the fact that, in 2007, he was chosen as U. S. Professor of the Year for the State of Massachusetts by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, who jointly present the only national awards for teaching excellence given in the United States of America.