Powertrain control pioneer Moskwa passes away

June 16, 2017 By Renee Meiller

John Moskwa, a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, died June 3, 2017, of pancreatic cancer. He was 67. Professionally, Moskwa reinvented himself several times, working as a diesel mechanic, a trumpet instructor and musician who performed nationally and internationally, and finally, as an internationally renowned mechanical engineer whose focus was primarily on powertrain control in vehicles.

Photo of John Moskwa

John Moskwa

Moskwa earned his PhD in 1988 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined UW–Madison that year as an assistant professor. During his 28-year career at UW–Madison, he developed and taught courses on such topics as linear and nonlinear automatic control, vehicle dynamics and design, powertrain systems, thermodynamics, and hybrid vehicles.

In his laboratory, the Powertrain Control Research Laboratory, he and his students designed and developed myriad engine and powertrain diagnostic techniques and control systems for research, as well as several dynamic engine and powertrain models. And, marrying his passion for music with his research expertise, Moskwa developed an engine dynamometer that not only played a vital role in his ability to create advanced powertrain controls, but also—literally—played Bach’s very technically challenging Partita in E for Unaccompanied Violin and On, Wisconsin!

In recognition of his research and teaching contributions, Moskwa earned numerous awards, including the Edward N. Cole Award for Automotive Engineering Innovation and the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, both from SAE International; the ASME Charles Stark Draper Innovative Practice Award, powertrain excellence awards from the International Council for Powertrain Engineering and Management, and various teaching awards from UW–Madison engineering students. He was a fellow of SAE International and of ASME.

Moskwa’s survivors include his children, Joe Moskwa of Madison and Susan Moskwa of Seattle, and his wife, Arlinda Michael.