Internationally Renowned UMass Professor Geoffrey Boothroyd Passes Away
Former University of Massachusetts Professor Geoffrey Boothroyd, internationally known for his pioneering work in manufacturing, died peacefully on January 3. In the early 1970s, Boothroyd and his UMass colleagues began research on what would become the basis for the Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) method. This revolutionary method continues to be used to estimate the time and cost for manually assembling a product on an automatic assembly machine and saves companies millions of dollars.
Today, Boothroyd’s legacy, the DFMA methodology, still helps achieve dramatic cost savings across a wide spectrum of global industries.
According to Boothroyd’s official obituary released by the Robert Toale & Sons Celebration of Life Center, he was born in Radcliffe, Manchester, in England on November 18, 1932. He faced major challenges early in life, including the loss of his father at a young age and the experience of being evacuated during the German air bombings of World War II.
Nevertheless, Boothroyd persevered and obtained a B.S. in Engineering from the University of London in 1956, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in 1962 and a Doctor of Science in 1974.
The obituary noted that Boothroyd wed Shirley Lewis in 1954 and was a devoted husband to her for 64 years until her death in 2018. In 1967, Boothroyd, his wife Shirley, and their children moved to the United States, and he joined what is now the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he began his DFMA research. Later he moved to the University of Rhode Island, working there for 28 years.
In addition to academia, Boothroyd co-founded (with his partner Peter Dewhurst) and served as the president of Boothroyd Dewhurst, Inc., where his work was instrumental in the development and popularization of the DFMA method.
One offshoot of Boothroyd’s trailblazing research was that President George H.W. Bush recognized his contributions to manufacturing and engineering with the National Medal of Science in 1991 as designated by the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation (NSTMF).
According to website of the NSTMF, the goal of Boothroyd’s work in manufacturing was to provide designers with a technique to quantify product designs for the ease of automatic assembly. Boothroyd’s innovative research exposed the fact that this practice actually led to substantially higher product costs relative to the use of fewer, multi-functional parts.
Working alongside his colleague Dewhurst, as the NSTMF explained, Boothroyd developed a computerized DFMA method, which continues to be used to this day. “Overall,” said the NSTMF, “DFMA gives companies more control over their manufacturing costs. By implementing Boothroyd and Dewhurst’s method, companies have been able to save millions of dollars, and DFMA continues to be one of the most widely used methods of manufacturing in the world.”
According to Boothroyd’s official obituary, he was a highly devoted family man, cherishing his role as a husband and father and balancing his professional achievements with a rich and rewarding personal life. His hobbies included model-railway construction, tennis, golf, classical-music appreciation, and watercolor painting. (February 2024)