Maker’s soul, a heart of gold

Joseph B. Richey II (left) A. Malachi Mixon III and Barry Romich helped create think[box], CWRU's acclaimed invention center.
Before he helped launch think[box], Barry Romich ’67 launched a company that has helped thousands of people to live fuller lives. He’ll receive the Lifetime Service Award at Homecoming 2018.  

Barry Romich grew up on a farm near Creston, Ohio, where his dad built or fixed or welded most everything the family needed. He arrived at the Case Institute of Technology in the mid 1960s with the soul of maker, and found his calling.

On Case Quad, he discovered the “student shop,” where he could tinker with electronics and mechanical devices. On a research project at the old Highland View Hospital, he met Ed Prentke, an engineer and a Case alumnus three times his age, who became a friend. They shared a concern for people with disabilities and a knack for innovation.

While still a student, Romich partnered with his mentor to launch the Prentke Romich Co., which develops life-enhancing technology. Today, the Wooster-based company employs about 250 people devising products that allow people with paralysis and other handicaps to communicate, get around, and more fully participate in life.

 “It’s been an ongoing blessing in my life,” Romich says.

He has shared the good graces. When he benefited from a stock sale, Romich had the means for philanthropy. In 2010, he donated $1 million to help launch think[box] and create the largest maker space on an American college campus.

Romich has continued to donate his time, talent and money to today’s “student shop,” and to lead school groups through on tours.

“I would have loved to have had a place like this,” he said on a recent visit to the innovation center. “The successful students will be the ones who get their hands on things. This is a place that allows that to happen.”

That’s thanks in large part to Barry Romich, who will be honored at Homecoming 2018. He will receive the Lifetime Service Award from the Case School of Engineering at the All-Classes Celebration on Friday, October 12, at Sears think[box].

To register for the All-Classes Celebration, and for all Homecoming events, go to