Stevens Oldest Living Graduate Maintains Strong Passion for Science

11/18/2011

“If I had a computer, I could have done some amazing things.”

Those are the words of Ralph Golzio, Stevens oldest living graduate, according to his son-in-law Tony Sous. For Golzio, a Paterson, N.J. native from the Class of 1932, the most mind-blowing technology he used during his college days was a slide rule, which he said “could figure out anything.”

At 102-years-old, Golzio has lived through an era of unprecedented technological progress. When he was a boy, automobiles were a rare sight and talking motion pictures had just been invented. The 20th and 21st Centuries – and Golzio, too – have seen the invention of traffic signals, self-winding watches, jet engines, photocopiers, hand-held calculators, bar code scanners, artificial hearts, cell phones, contact lenses, H-D television, the Internet and hybrid cars.

Golzio’s kept up with all the change. Even without the computer, he’s accomplished some amazing things due to his lifelong passion for science, innovation and entrepreneurship.

It was that passion that brought Golzio to Stevens in the first place. A member of the lacrosse and baseball teams, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1932, when tuition was $300 per year. He also did graduate work at Stevens, studying internal combustion engines and ballistics.

Golzio’s first job was with Wright Aeronautical Company, where he met his wife, Betty. In 1947, he founded Engineering Associates in Union City, N.J. and worked as a consulting engineer until his retirement in 1987 at the age of 78. During his career, he also served as Chief Power Plant Engineer for Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation and President of Precision Gears and Products.

An active outdoorsman whose interests have included fly fishing, hiking, climbing, hunting, archery, skeet shooting, speed skating and snow shoeing, Golzio still lives independently in the same house he bought more than 70 years ago and where he raised his two daughters. At age 92, he cruised the Caribbean. He’s attended almost every single Stevens Alumni Association “Old Guard” luncheon – in fact, the group hosted his 100th birthday party celebration. When he was 98, he passed a driving test at the DMV in front of an astonished instructor and was approved to continue driving, but voluntarily gave up his license.

“That was a big step,” said Linda Sous. “He chose, on his own, to give up his vehicle of independence –literally.”

Golzio may not be as physically mobile as he once was, but his intellectual curiosity is as strong as ever. He still continues his studies of nuclear physics, quantum physics, engineering and astronomy, aided by the Internet as well by Stevens textbooks and instruction from Stevens professors. And he recently learned to communicate with relatives in Italy through email.

“His thirst for knowledge has always been great but it’s absolutely remarkable for someone his age,” said Linda Sous, Golzio’s loving daughter and frequent caregiver.