Remembering Steve Rubin ’74

Stephen E. Rubin ’74, former chairman of the WPI Board of Trustees, a remarkable friend and colleague, dedicated family man, and successful entrepreneur who built one of the nation’s leading industrial automation software companies, died August 28, 2015, at the age of 63, from complications related to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Steve’s battle with ALS inspired many members of the greater WPI community to contribute to research on this as-yet incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease. Many, including WPI president Laurie Leshin, did so by taking part in the national ALS Association ice-bucket challenge on his behalf. One of the first students of the WPI Plan, Steve credited WPI with giving him the project experience that led to his first job and for the skills and confidence he gained that helped him build his entrepreneurial career. “I love WPI,” he said. “It helped me have a complete and successful life.”

“Steve loved WPI and he poured his time, talent, and enormous energy into his alma mater, making this university a better place for all of us. He was genuine, warm, welcoming, caring, giving, approachable, comfortable with who he was, always interested in others, willing to offer help, and always with a smile. He brought joy to those who were fortunate to know him and he made us feel better about ourselves. He will be missed and fondly remembered.”

–Philip B. Ryan ’65, Chairman, WPI Board of Trustees

“Steve was a dedicated alum, advocate, and supporter of WPI, serving as a Trustee for 17 years and as the Board chairman from 2010 to 2013.  His loss will be deeply felt by so many in our community, perhaps most on Founders Day, when Steve would bring his goats to campus.  I cannot claim to have known Steve nearly as well as many in the WPI community.  By the time I joined WPI, he had already lost his ability to speak due to the illness, ALS, which ultimately took his life.  In spite of this limitation in our ability to communicate, I loved my time with Steve.  He was a pioneer in providing philanthropic support for the expansion of our global programs to include new project center sites.  His enthusiasm for WPI was infectious, as was his caring smile.”

–Laurie Leshin, WPI President

We invite members of the WPI community to share their memories and thoughts about Steve Rubin below.

Comments (16)

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  1. Leigh Sjogren says:

    I started at WPI in June 2008 as the Manager of Special Events for the University Advancement Office. The first event I was tasked with planning was a reception at the home of Tracy and Steve Rubin. Tracy and Steve were so gracious, humble, hospitable and just an absolute pleasure to work with. Despite being young and still inexperienced at that time they treated me like a professional. I have always felt a connection to Steve for that reason. Over the years I would always see him be-bopping around campus, happy as a clam, and would exclaim that we should have him on the payroll for everything he does for WPI! His enthusiasm and passion for this school was infectious. He will be deeply missed.

  2. Terry Schmidt Adams '92 says:

    Steve will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He was such a giving, generous, caring, supportive person, with a huge heart for both WPI and his family. My deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

  3. Steve Berselli '13 says:

    In the Spring of 2013, the WPI School of Business piloted a global entrepreneurship experience titled, “The Israeli Phenomenon”. A senior at the time, I knew the opportunity would be life-changing and didn’t think twice about applying. On the first day of class, Steve joined us to kick-off the experience. What I didn’t expect was for Steve to attend nearly every other class in the semester with us, as a life-long student, learning together. Steve helped Art and Sue Gerstenfeld champion this endeavor from the ground up. Steve also joined us on the ground in Israel over Spring Break for the intensive week-long startup cultural and technology immersion portion of our course. As then Chairman of the WPI Board of Trustees, Steve’s commitment to our course time alone impressed me. His approachable, down-to-Earth, and authentic presence while on our aggressive trip STUNNED me. Steve became more than a leader we looked up to based on position alone…he embodied an infectious spirit of dreaming, working hard together, and learning every single day. Steve touched my life from our first day in class and I will never forget his ability to connect with people, share opportunity, and make everyone feel important. Rest in peace, Steve, and God Bless you.

  4. Rick Vaz says:

    Steve was the best leader I can imagine: inspiring yet humble, self-effacing, thoughtful, always empowering others. He connected easily with just about anyone he came in contact with, and took a genuine interest in those people. Today at his memorial service, I was struck by what a modest part of his enormous influence involved WPI. While his contributions to WPI will live forever, and we’ll never forget him, there was so much more to which Steve was devoted: his family, his faith, friends and neighbors, his community, his businesses and employees, his beloved animals, aviation, the Red Sox, and on, and on. A life so very well lived. I feel diminished by this loss.

  5. Paul Bayliss, WPI '60 says:

    As chair of the Board of Trustees Nominations Committee, I had a lengthy conversation with Tracy and Steve at a Board retreat about a decade ago. My purpose was to enlist Steve as a candidate for the position of Vice Chair of the WPI Board. Little did I know at the time just how much I was asking and the challenges that would result from their acceptance of this nomination and Steve’s eventual assumption of Board Chair responsibilities. Steve’s dedication to and leadership of WPI was truly magnificent during a time of unprecedented challenge. Tracy’s unfailing support was vital to Steve’s success, of which we are all the beneficiaries. As Board Chair, his impact on campus life was so significant that he was tapped by Skull, an honor that, I believe, is also unprecedented.
    Steve and Tracy’s support for his alma mater, throughout his bout with ALS, endears them even more to
    me and untold numbers of others at WPI.
    With deepest condolences from a grateful alumnus,
    Paul Bayliss, Emeritus Trustee

  6. Rich Merritt says:

    I worked with Steve at his first job in the 1970s. I was a freelance writer, and Steve and I wrote an HMI manual for the CRISP process control system at Anatec. Steve went on to form Intellution, bringing PC-based HMI/SCADA software to the process control industry. This revolutionized the industry, which until then was reliant on multi-millon dollar process control “systems.” Steve made it possible to control machines and processes with PCs, and the industry hasn’t been the same ever since. We stayed in touch over the years, and I did some marketing communications for two of his companies, the last being Longwatch. Bye, Steve. I never did get a ride in your jet.

  7. Peter Lu '91 CS Grad School says:

    I graduated in 1991 from WPI with MS in Computer Science. I did not know Steve way back then. But fortunately, I had a chance to work for him in 1995, for almost 10 years at the company he founded – Intellution.

    Steve was not only a great leader, smart engineer, also, he was a very kind and caring person. In a late winter afternoon, the sky was fairly dark and thick snow was walling hard. All employees were rushing to the parking lot to get ready to hit the snowy road. A guy walking around the parking lot with a big brush, was sweeping snow on the windshield of a car. Then another, then another. It was our CEO Steve Rubin! He was standing in the big snow helping employees get ready to fight the storm. Almost 20 years later, I still vividly remember the scene. I will never forget it. How many CEOs in the world would do that for their employees?

    Steve devoted lots of time and energy to WPI. In May, 2014, WPI awarded him Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa. Fortunately, I witnessed the event and caught it in a video. If anyone who did not attend last years commencement, here is the link to my video on YouTube:

    Steve, Rest In Peace!

  8. Greg Rubin says:

    I am Steve’s oldest son. I have spent many memorable days on the WPI campus – at Founder’s Days, at the Fiji house, and many other random days over the years – and exponentially more days hearing stories about the people and traditions there.

    I’m writing for two reasons: First, to say thanks to everyone at WPI who ever put a smile on his face (so basically everyone there). You truly made his life full. Second, I want to tell you about the legacy of WPI in the Rubin household…

    As anyone who has met my Dad knows, he loved goats. You may have seen his goats walking around WPI on Founders’ Day. Well, on Saturday I unfortunately had to do what every parent dreads and explain to my 3-year old daughter Hannah about what happened to PopPop. Not an easy task of course.

    Dad had a stuffed Gompei that sat at the end of his bed during the final weeks of his life. So, I sat her down and explained: “This is Gompei. PopPop wanted you to have him. Of all the goats that PopPop had, this one was his favorite. So when you feel like talking to PopPop, you talk to Gompei and PopPop will hear you.” She hasn’t let that goat out of her sight since.

    Thank you WPI and thank you Gompei. If you see a little girl sitting at the Gompei statue on campus you’ll know who it is and that she’s talking to her PopPop.


    • Amy Morton says:

      I had the pleasure of serving with your dad on the Marketing Committee of the WPI Board for several years. His energy and enthusiasm were contagious and his love for WPI AND for goats was clear. (Once he even suggested we have a goat bleat ring tone for students to download to their phones!). I was touched to read your note, and will think of your Dad whenever I see my own kids playing with their stuffed Gompeis.


  9. Stephanie Pasha says:

    I had the honor and pleasure of working with Steve in his capacity as a Board member and then as Chairman. Very early on, I dubbed him my favorite trustee. He was always smiling when he popped by the office, and remembered details about my life, taking time to ask questions and really listening to the answers. He treated everyone with such grace and respect. He made a number of self-deprecating quips that always made me laugh and then chastise him: even in jest, I couldn’t abide him saying anything negative about himself. He was a gentleman, a sweet soul, and oh, but how I miss that wide, genuine smile.

    May we all behave more like Steve. The world would be a much kinder place.

  10. Kurt Zanelotti says:

    While I am not affiliated with WPI in any way except by my association with Steve (and Tracy) I see Steve left an outstanding legacy there. In 1978 Steve became our advisor and was instrumental in the re-colonization of the Phi Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta (Fijis) at the University of Maryland. Steve put in many many hours guiding us, regaling us with his adventures as an undergrad at WPI and being a true role model in acting as gentlemen on campus. How he put up with us and kept his sanity dealing with a bunch of college aged men I will never know. Tracy, thanks for giving us his time away from you early in your marriage! We have been telling Rubes stories via email for the past day. I am blessed to have reconnected with him a few years back and enjoyed seeing his posts on Facebook over the past few years. Perge!

  11. Weihan Gao says:

    Steve has gone. My old man is now heading to a better world, where disease will not take his ability to talk, walk and breath. He is not my family, but he is even more than that. He provide me not only a chance to work, but also love like family and guidance like grandpa which is far better than anything I had ever have in US. He is my family in US. He also treat my family with kindness and beautiful smile.

    I didn’t expect my visit two month ago will be my last chance to see him. I didn’t know that was the last chance for us to talk to each other. His eyes was still full of kindness, his mind was still full of love. He didn’t say anything, but his eyes said everything.

    I will still remember him. All the memories and good stories, to think, in every lonely night when I miss a good friend.

    My dear old man, fair well. God bless you. I love you.

    • Greg Rubin says:


      My dad spoke about you a lot. He thought you were an intelligent, considerate, humble, driven, and warm person – someone he truly respected. Thank you for your wonderful note about him. Rest assured it means a lot to me and my family that he was able to find a friendship with you later in his life and that you valued that relationship as much as he did.

      Best wishes,


  12. Anna E. Croop says:

    There is no one that cares more for WPI than Steve Rubin did. He never was caught up in titles or what program a student was in – he had time and a welcome ear for everyone. I was one of the lucky ones that had time with him as a student representative who worked with the Trustees. He not only listened but gave until the end. He directly impacted all students lives by listening and offering suggestions as well as WPI as a whole through his incredible work as a Trustee. And then there’s the time he took bringing his “Gompeis” to campus. I will never forget the look of sheer joy on his face each Founder’s Day. One of my fondest memories is during one of my treasured chats with him, Steve proudly showing Phill Blake and myself his goat ringtones – which he made from his own goats’ bleating – carrying his love of WPI through every aspect of his life he could demonstrate it. I cannot thank the Rubin family enough for all the sacrifices they had to make to allow Steve to give us so much. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  13. Cheryl Cerny says:

    I started at WPI in 2011 so I only knew Steve for a short period of time before he became ill. I feel so very fortunate that I had an opportunity to meet him and work with him. His love for WPI and the energy that he put into every project was infectious. He will be truly missed.

  14. Dexter Bailey says:

    I don’t think there are enough words to accurately explain the impact of Steve Rubin on WPI. His energy, love and tireless dedication to the students, faculty and staff was like nothing I had experience before. Steve was and remains an inspiration. I will cherish the nine years I had the privilege of knowing Steve Rubin – five of those years working directly under his careful guidance at WPI. My thoughts are with Tracy and their amazing family. Sadly…

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