In memory of Doc
Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 17, 2023
I can’t say I’m the best person to write this, given that I’m a mechanical engineering graduate, and engineers aren’t exactly known for their prowess in writing. However, I feel that someone should, so I’ll give it my best shot.
We all just lost a truly great man. Professor Michael “Doc” Stanisic was a man well-known by all those in the mechanical engineering department, and words can’t give him the tribute he deserves. I had the honor of being Professor Stanisic’s student for his “Mechanisms and Machines” course, ”Senior Design” and the Baja club. I know others who knew him through the Robot Football Club as well.
When I first met Professor Stanisic, I was a bit intimidated (as it seems most of us students were), but after attending his office hours and just talking with Doc, that intimidation quickly subsided. I learned that he was a man of great humility and had one of the best dry and self-deprecating senses of humor I’ve ever known. I recall Doc once telling us in a class that his exams were so hard that he never got better than a B on his own finals, but he grossly undersold his own intellect.
The textbook he wrote for his “Mechanisms and Machines” course is easily the best textbook I’ve ever read. It was one of the few textbooks that I actually bought outright, and I still have it.
I expect textbooks to be dense and dry, and far too long, with too few real-life examples. However, I found that Doc’s was refreshingly set apart. It’s straight to the point — telling you only what you need, just when you need it — but it was thorough enough that the content made perfect sense.
In retrospect, this isn’t a surprise. That’s the kind of person Doc was. He wasn’t interested in unnecessary fluff.
We students all saw that side of him. But those of us who really took the time to talk to him or had enough classes with him knew that Doc was a deeply caring man. He truly cared about his work, his students and his family.
He didn’t talk to us about it, but he was also a man of great faith. He was a man who lived his faith out in his actions more than his words. You wouldn’t know unless you knew him well (or, in my case, if you asked him about an email he was working on for his church during office hours). If you went to his office often, you might’ve noticed the few small icons hanging up on the wall, which gave us all a small window into his devotion.
During the presentations for our senior design projects, which focused on teleoperated remote incision devices (a fantastic idea from Doc), we had some time to go around and see everyone else’s work. With this extra time, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Doc for a few minutes. We talked about where I was going to go to work and the end of the semester, but we also talked about some of his life and his past.
In particular, I remember Doc talking about a time in his life when he had a job with a long commute across state lines and how much he struggled to spend time away from his daughters. I walked away from that conversation knowing that he was such a blessing to his family and hoping that one day I could measure up to the great man he was.
I couldn’t have guessed that would be the last real conversation I had with him.
Professor Stanisic was a man like no other. I’ve considered him a genuine role model since I first saw the man that Doc truly was. I hope that his family and the Notre Dame community are granted solace in this deep loss. And I ask that all of you join in praying for the repose of his soul and the comfort of his family. May all of us remember him well and live by his example, striving to be men and women of honesty and integrity, good humor, deep caring and of faith.
May his soul rest in peace.
class of 2021
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.