prof dimitrov

Professor Dimiter Marinov Dimitrov

*10 February 1944       † 8 November 2018

With the passing of Professor Dimitrov (Professor at the University of Stellenbosch, Department of Industrial Engineering and a Fraunhofer Senior Advisor in South Africa) we have lost a respected scientist and an outstanding partner dedicated to education, supporting the local manufacturing industry, and fostering cross-continental cooperation.  To many he was a friend, a colleague, a supervisor, a mentor, a project lead, a manager, a father, a brother, and an inspiration.

During his life, Prof. Dimitrov always showed great dedication to furthering engineering knowledge and education.  Even until the very end, his projects and the people around him received highest priority. He was a selfless man who led by example and inspired those who worked with him to continuously strive towards higher levels of diligence and self-improvement. With great humility, he recognised and managed to bring out the best in everyone.  He worked hard and demanded excellence, but also had an infectious sense of fun and zest for life. 

Prof. Dimitrov made substantial and lasting contributions to the manufacturing and materials engineering landscape.  He was a founding member of the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (RAPDASA), a board member of the Western Cape Tooling Initiative (WCTI), Management Committee member of the Plastics Institute of Southern Africa (PISA), and a member of CIRP, the International Academy for Production Engineering. He was also the SU representative in the national Titanium Centre of Competence (TiCoC) and piloted the national research program in machining of titanium alloys. In the Collaborative Program in Additive Manufacturing (CPAM) he was one of the key players. Furthermore, he managed to bring a fully international research network and knowledge exchange opportunity to South Africa through founding the International Conference on Competitive Manufacturing (COMA). 

At Stellenbosch University he founded the Global Competitiveness Centre (GCC) in 1997, in alliance with more than 25 Industry partners, to address the challenges of global competition. In 2000 the Rapid Product Development Laboratory (RPD) was established and pioneered many applications of 3D printing technology, then still very new in South Africa. The Institute for Advanced Tooling was added to the offering in 2007 as another entity in the Industrial Engineering department at Stellenbosch University. This was an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the Technology Innovation Agency to support the tool and die making industry in South Africa and promote sustainable tooling. In late 2015 the Stellenbosch Technology Centre – Laboratory for Advanced Manufacturing (STC-LAM) was established. This brings together all created entities under one umbrella to further support the South African production industry as a whole. The official opening was held on 26 January 2016 with distinguished delegates from around the world. The STC would be Prof Dimitrov’s crowning achievement and the centre was opened in his honour due to his continued drive and passion in furthering production engineering in South Africa.

As a Fraunhofer Senior Advisor in South Africa, Prof. Dimitrov played an outstanding role in fostering solid and long-lasting international collaboration.  A multitude of research and industry projects in the field of manufacturing and materials technology with Fraunhofer Institutes can be attributed to his initiative.

Professor Dimitrov worked with the Education for Laser-based Manufacturing (ELbM) consortium in single-hearted devotion by deploying his extensive network within Africa and Europe to ensure it is successfully established. The committed involvement of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), African Laser Centre (ALC), the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research/Laser Enabled Manufacturing Research Group (CSIR/LEM), and Trumpf via Retecon in ELbM’s activities is to the credit of Professor Dimitrov.

His academic contributions include many publications in the form of book chapters, journals and conference papers. He also supervised many doctoral and master’s students and always aimed at bringing the best out of them.

Prof. Dimitrov received numerous awards and honours in recognition of his achievements.  In 2006 he received the THRIP Excellence Award for manufacturing in the category “SMME development and technology transfer”, followed by a second in 2010, this time in the category “Research Collaboration”.  In 2015, the President of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft awarded the highly prestigious Fraunhofer Thaler to Prof. Dimitrov “In recognition of his outstanding leadership and significant achievements in the field of applied research”.

Those who knew him will surely miss his energy, enthusiasm, and contagious joyful character.