2015 Distinguished Alumni Award: Robert LaBarre

Robert LaBarre has enjoyed a thirty-seven-year career as an industrial mathematician at United Technologies Research Center. He is currently Principal Mathematician and Group Leader, System Dynamics and Optimization, responsible for fifteen Ph.D. research scientists. In 2010, he was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.
Dr. LaBarre received his Bachelor of Science (University Scholar) and Master of Science degrees in mathematics from the University of Connecticut in 1976 and 1978, respectively. In 1987, he began working part-time on a Ph.D., which he completed in 1992, also in mathematics from the University of Connecticut.

As an industrial mathematician, he has made numerous original contributions supporting the businesses of United Technologies Corporation, many used in our everyday lives. His cryptographic methods can be found in automotive key fobs and keyless door locks. He co-developed a stochastic optimization methodology resulting in a widely used, computationally efficient gradient-free scheme. His work in algebraic graph theory—recognized with a UTC Senior Vice President Award—provides an understanding of uncertainty propagation through complex systems. Additionally, Dr. LaBarre’s work in stochastic analysis led to the generation of bounds on elevator dispatching times—recognized by a UTRC Outstanding Achievement Award. His work in unstructured grid generation provided a time-efficient, density-varying methodology that was shown to accommodate second-order accurate numerical solutions to divergence form partial differential equations. He has authored or co-authored more than forty technical papers and has been awarded six patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Dr. LaBarre also makes a difference for people. He has mentored two generations of industrial mathematicians at UTRC; taught graduate and undergraduate courses as an adjunct faculty member during a twenty-year span at RPI-Hartford, UConn, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute; participated on three Ph.D. advisory committees (two currently completed); and been an active member of the Mathematical Sciences Advisory Board at WPI. He has participated in summer NSF-sponsored programs helping high school mathematics teachers understand mathematics outside of the educational framework. He has worked in the community by mentoring Honors Algebra students at East Hartford High School, and he has interacted with some of the best and brightest high school students around the world via the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair as a judge for the UTC student awards program.

Bob and his wife Mary (UConn ’79, B.S. in Animal Science), live in Ashford and have been married for thirty-five years. They have three adult children: Kyle (UConn ’06, B.S. in Finance); Kelly (UVM ’08, B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science); and Brenna (Cornell ’12, B.S. in Computational Biology), who is currently working on a Ph.D. in BioInformatics at the National Institutes of Health (in conjunction with Boston University). His experience playing soccer in high school and at UConn have instilled a long association with the game at all levels, which continues feverishly to this day.