Willie M. Webb established the Miss Willie M. Webb Reliability Engineering Fellowship in July 2004 to support a graduate reliability engineering student who has demonstrated interest and experience in increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities and women in engineering.
Willie Mae Webb was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on February 6, 1944 to Willie and Eula Webb.
She received an Associates degree from Bronx Community College in New York in Engineering Sciences, then a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in May 1977 from Cornell University, where she also received the GE Minority Engineering Scholarship. From 1977 to 1984, she worked for Honeywell Avionics in Minneapolis, Minnesota where among other things she set up and reorganized the company's Product Assurance Laboratory. During the same period from 1979 to 1980 she worked for the U.S. Air Force as a 1st Lieutenant and a Bioenvironmental Engineer at Brooks AFB, Texas, and later for several years as an Air Force reservist. She then joined GE Aerospace Aircraft Electronics Division in Utica, New York and worked there for five years starting in 1984, where her interest and experience in reliability engineering started. At GE, she worked as a reliability and quality assurance engineer.
The desire for advancing knowledge was the hallmark characteristic of Willie Webb. When she left GE in 1989, she entered the graduate program in Electrical Engineering at Syracuse University and earned an Masters of Science degree in August 1990. She then took a job with the Navy Air Warfare Center (NAVAIR) at Patuxent River, Maryland where she conducted research to determine critical real time display requirements of digital systems of the EA6B aircraft.
After one year at NAVAIR, proximity to the University of Maryland prompted her to pursue a Masters degree in Reliability Engineering. She started this program in September 1991 and completed the program courses in 1993. Her immense interest in education and scholarship kept her at the University of Maryland, where she worked in advancing distance delivery of reliability engineering education. She worked in this capacity for the remainder of her career, during which she collaborated with nearly all the professors in the program.
During her tenure at the University, her contribution and promotion of the reliability engineering program was substantial. One of her major scholarly contributions during her employment at the University of Maryland was the development of a two-volume book on "Applied Reliability Engineering", which was coauthored with Professor Marvin Roush. This book has been used by various universities, people and organizations and as the textbook for two senior-level reliability engineering courses at the University of Maryland. RIAC has recently published this book as one of its products with much success. She almost completed another book on Probability Distribution Functions and Tables Used in Reliability Engineering. Unfortunately her severe respiratory illness and lung cancer that began in the Fall of 2006 did not allow her to complete the book, as she passed away on April 10, 2007. Professors Mohammad Modarres and Ali Mosleh have taken on the task of completing the book on Willie Webb's behalf. In addition, to honor her accomplishments and contributions to the field of Reliability Engineering, the University of Maryland Reliability Engineering Program has named its library the Willie Webb Reliability Engineering Library.
Besides being immensely modest and private, Miss Webb was also exceptionally generous. In July 2004, she established the Miss Willie M. Webb Reliability Engineering Fellowship Endowment. Spendable Income from the Miss Willie M. Webb Reliability Engineering Fellowship Endowment provides an annual scholarship for a graduate reliability engineering student, enrolled in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, who has demonstrated interest and experience in increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities and women in engineering.