Fluid power powerhouse Tom Wanke passes away  

Milwaukee School of Engineering is saddened to share the news that Tom Wanke, CFPE, director of the Fluid Power Industrial Consortium and Industry Relations, passed away June 21, 2022. 

Wanke began his nearly 50-year career at MSOE in 1974 as a technician in the university’s Fluid Power Institute™ (FPI) while he was pursuing an education in fluid power engineering technology. He received both an associate degree in fluid power engineering technology and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology from MSOE in 1975 and 1978, respectively, and an M.S. in Engineering with a fluid power specialty in 1989.  

“Tom was a respected leader in the fluid power industry. His dedication to MSOE and the industry was unparalleled,” said Sheku Kamara, MSOE dean of applied research. “Tom was committed to not only helping industry partners but also educating future generations of fluid power professionals through continuing education classes and the NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge.” 

In 1978 Wanke became a project engineer in FPI and its director in 1980. Over the years, he built strong relationships between MSOE and its fluid power industry partners. The FPI is a leader in motion control and fluid power education, research and evaluation. It is one of the nation’s foremost academic fluid power research laboratories. Wanke was an expert in hydraulic component and system design reviews, development, and evaluation; field troubleshooting and failure analysis; and fluids, filtration and contamination control in hydraulic systems.  

Wanke was instrumental in establishing the Fluid Power Industrial Consortium in 2016 and in 2017 was named director of the FPIC and industrial relations. In addition, he served MSOE as an adjunct associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department.  

“Tom’s impact on the fluid power industry will be felt for generations,” said Eric Lanke, president and CEO of the National Fluid Power Association. “He has been an instrumental partner in our growth and vitality, and we join the countless number friends, former students, and colleagues that are mourning his passing.”  

Wanke was the first recipient of MSOE’s Karl O. Werwath Engineering Research Award in 1989. He also was part of the inaugural class of inductees to the International Fluid Power Society Hall of Fame in 2019; received the Fluid Power Champions Award in 2015 and the Outstanding Service Award in 2014 from the National Fluid Power Association; and the Service Award from the International Fluid Power Association in 2011.  

Wanke was a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the International Fluid Power Society and an IFPS certified fluid power engineer. Wanke was a member of the International Standards Organization Committee TC131 for Fluid Power Standards and chairman of the NFPA Technical Board. He was chairman of the Technical Conference at both the 2011 and 2014 International Fluid Power Expositions and a member of the IFPE Management Committee.  

Wanke was instrumental in securing the $5 million Endowment for Fluid Power Education at MSOE from the Estate of Otto J. Maha. In 2007, at the 45th anniversary celebration of the Fluid Power Institute, he received one of the first Otto J. Maha Pioneers in Fluid Power Awards. In 2012, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Fluid Power Institute, he received the first-ever MSOE Fluid Power Achievement Award for his tireless efforts and steadfast insistence for excellence that has led to the outstanding reputation of the MSOE Fluid Power Institute.