Conrad "Connie" Wogrin, 92, emeritus professor of computer science, died peacefully Wednesday, March 8, 2017, surrounded by his family.
Wogrin came to UMass Amherst in 1967 as a professor of computer science and director of the Research Computer Center. He was one the first seven faculty hired in computer science and was instrumental to the growth of the program at the university. Along with the general responsibility of the University Computing Center, now UMass Amherst Information Technology, his research interests were in image processing, computer-based education, and computer-aided design.
Wogrin was the director of the Research Computer Center from 1970 to 1988. In this role, he was instrumental in supporting the research on visualization of massive data sets and the use of supercomputers. The work he supported on interpretation of the data from weather satellites was published in an atlas by the National Geographic Society and used by the Smithsonian institution's "World from Space" exhibit.
Wogrin was the acting chair of the Computer Science Program at UMass Amherst from 1969-1970 and took on the responsibility for the search for a new chair. With his help, the program was upgraded in 1972 to the Department of Computer and Information Science (COINS) offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
"Connie Wogrin was one of the major figures involved in establishing, nurturing, and growing computer science at UMass Amherst," said Bruce Croft, distinguished professor and dean of the College of Information and Computer Sciences. "In my first years here, Connie was running the rapidly developing University Computing Center, but was also involved in all the main discussions and decisions in the computer science department as we developed into a nationally recognized program."
After over a decade of phenomenal growth, Wogrin once again took the helm of the department as acting chair in 1985. Prior to his retirement in 1992, he continued his research interests in intelligent tutors and computational strategies in learning and education. He also served as the acting associate vice chancellor for research and graduate studies for the university from 1990 to 1992.
Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1924, son of Conrad and Rozina Wogrin, he graduated from Manual High School. He was the first member of his family to attend college, receiving a scholarship to attend Yale University where he received his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering. During World War II, he served in the army in Europe as the non-commissioned officer in charge of communication systems at Supreme Headquarters. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service for supervision of signal installations improvised from captured enemy equipment.
He was a professor of electrical engineering at Yale University and in 1967 moved to University of Massachusetts. In 2015, Wogrin's family founded the Conrad Wogrin Undergraduate Scholarship in Computer Science in honor of his contributions to building the university's computer science program. The scholarship provides support to undergraduate students who show particular promise and demonstrate financial need, with preference to students who are members of groups underrepresented in computer science.
Connie is survived by Barbara his beloved wife of 65 years; his three daughters, Sandy Warren and husband Bob of Delray Beach, Florida, Carol Wogrin of Harare Zimbabwe, and Nancy Confrey and husband Tony of Concord; seven grandchildren, Susan (Kevin), Sharon (Andrew), Andrew (Mark), David (Ali), Dylan, Nick, and Jack; and three great-grandchildren, Henry, Claire and Joshua. He is also survived by his sister Frances Rochford, brother Robert Wogrin, and brother-in-law Carl Yohans.
A memorial service will be held Friday, March 17, at 2 p.m. at Grace Church in Amherst.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Conrad Wogrin Undergraduate Scholarship in Computer Science. Checks payable to University of Massachusetts Amherst (memo line - Conrad Wogrin Scholarship) can be mailed to: UMass Amherst Records & Gift Processing, 134 Hicks Way, Memorial Hall, UMass, Amherst, MA 01003, or online at www.cics.umass.edu/donate-wogrin.