Robert "Bob" Phillip Hubbard

June 8, 1943February 5, 2019

Dr. Robert (Bob) P. Hubbard, born 6/8/43, died 2/5/19 from complications of Parkinson’s Disease at age 75.

Bob was a father and mentor to many and a friend to all. He laughed and cried easily and loved deeply. He liked to design and build things, listen to music, sing, run, sail, ski, scuba dive and boast about his children. Of his many accomplishments he was most proud of his family. Bob embodied integrity and generosity. He was kind, compassionate, curious and always ready to have a meaningful conversation. He enjoyed frequent trips up north to the cottage on Lake Michigan as well as camping in many National Parks with his family.

Bob is survived by his wife of 52 years, JoAnn; his twin children Matt Hubbard (Martha Fowler) and Cristin Miller (Billy Miller); his brother Bill Hubbard (Bonnie Hubbard); and his grandchildren Dean Hubbard, Lila Miller and Ivy Miller.

After graduating with an engineering degree from Duke University in 1965, Bob completed a PhD in theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois. In the 1970s he worked for General Motors, studying crash-related injuries and developing early crash-test dummy technology.

Bob invented the life-saving Head And Neck Support device that revolutionized motorsports safety and has been called the most important safety advance since the seatbelt. He developed the HANS in the 1980s in collaboration with brother-in-law and championship driver Jim Downing. Countless racers around the world avoid injury or worse by using this device. The HANS and related artifacts will be installed in the Smithsonian Museum in 2021. Honoring his pioneering work in racing safety, Bob received the inaugural (2016) SAE John Melvin Motorsport Safety Award and many other accolades. Bob was a Professor of bio-mechanical engineering at Michigan State University from 1977 until 2006. He was an active supporter of student learning and research and received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2005. Bob’s passion for innovation was evident in his creation of a class that still brings together engineering and marketing students in the field of biomechanics. In addition, he was a consultant for NASA.

A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, February 24th at 2 PM at Edgewood United Church UCC (469 N. Hagadorn, East Lansing, MI 48823) where Bob was an active member and leader for over 40 years.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Re-Member (https://, a nonprofit organization on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota that works to improve the quality of reservation life through relationships, shared resources and volunteer services.

The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home, East Chapel, East Lansing.

Memories and condolences may be shared at

The following are obituaries listed for Bob noting his great achievements in the engineering field:


24 February

Memorial Service

2:00 pm

Edgewood United Church

469 Hagadorn Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823


Robert "Bob" Phillip Hubbard

have a memory or condolence to add?

Bing Deng

February 18, 2019

I was Dr. Hubbard’s first international student. When I crossed the ocean with two suitcases, he became not only my advisor, but also a father figure as well. He took me out for an ice cream, just to celebrate finishing an exam. He reached out to his network, sending me for job interviews, meeting with people. He taught me not only about solving science challenges, but country skiing, too.

His bright smile still lights up my path. Dr. Hubbard, you are dearly missed.

George Stockman

February 14, 2019

My favorite memory is running the Red Cedar River with Bob on a nice spring day. We planted my truck down by the Lansing Zoo and put in at Ferguson Park off Okemos Road. The river was high and we ran over the dam at MSU: most likely this was the fastest run of this course ever made by MSU Engineering professors.

Bob and I shared our love of track and canoeing over a long time. We often met with other profs for lunch. Bob and I shared a stairway and I often saw him bounding up to his 4th floor office and lab. He was a constantly positive person and I don't recall him ever speaking badly about anyone. He went through a couple medical situations shortly before I did and was a very helpful mentor for me. He was also a mentor to a few local kids who needed his caring.

In between his professional and family trips and medical problems, Bob continued to join us at the "retired MSU engineers lunch" at Coral Gables and AI Fusion. In September he let me drive his new RAV4 around the neighborhood while we talked: he was doing well at that time. I last saw him at lunch in December: he was enthusiastically joining in conversation, but was not easy to understand. When the situation arose, he would explain his current condition and never complained about it. He was on a difficult path, and undeserved. I was saddened to learn that he suddenly left us and I wish the family my regrets and respect.

Paula Sibal

February 12, 2019

My knowledge of Bob was limited to the times when he came to volunteer at Re-Member and attend our banquets. Looking at his obituaries he was obviously a remarkable (though humble) man with incredible accomplishments to his name, and I am saddened by the fact that I didn't have the opportunity to get to know him better and learn from his wisdom. What struck me most about him, however, was his strength and conviction and determination to remain involved with the Lakota on Pine Ridge despite his health issues and all he struggled with....nothing short of amazing over the past few years. He has been a true inspiration to me, and I am truly grateful for knowing him. Godspeed Bob. You're flying with the eagles now, right where you belong. Fly high.