Robert Dirk Lotz, 53, of Asheville, NC, passed away on January 24th, 2024 at UNC Hospital after an almost 3-year battle with colon cancer.
Rob was born on February 9th, 1970 in Frankfurt, Germany. He lived in Germany, Mexico, and Spain throughout his youth and graduated high school with a German Abitur from the Deutsche Schule in Madrid in 1988. He initially attended University in Stuttgart, Germany, but transferred to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY in 1991, where he obtained his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD in Aeronautical Engineering.
Rob began his professional career with CD-adapco in 2000 where he held various engineering positions in New York, Michigan, and California. The highlight of his career with CD-adapco was opening and developing the CFD services office at their Detroit branch.
In the spring of 2008, Rob joined Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita, KS to pursue his dream of designing airplanes. Unfortunately, the company was severely impacted by the recession and Rob returned to CD-adapco in 2009, where he worked in their LA office for 2 years.
In 2011, Rob was given the opportunity to move near his family in North Carolina when he joined BorgWarner Automotive in Asheville, NC as a Senior Aerodynamics Engineer. His work focused on radial compressor and turbine aerodynamic design.
Rob was passionate about aviation and high-performance cars from an early age. In his childhood, he demonstrated an early skill in engineering and design by building miniature models of airplanes and cars. While studying at RPI he designed, developed, and built an RP-3 Sailplane. During the same time, he constructed a single engine Rutan Long-EZ airplane with a friend. He personally piloted the plane after receiving his pilot’s license.
Rob was also passionate about nature photography. He spent much of his time capturing pictures of birds, flowers, plants, and landscapes. Among his favorite images are those he took in Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks. He collected vintage cameras and enjoyed recreating Ansel Adams photographs with his own camera equipment.
Rob is survived by his parents, Wolfgang and Ingeborg, his sister, Ruth and brother, Daniel. He had four nieces and one nephew, Emily, Julia, Annika, Alisia, and Nicolas.
He was an active member of The Chapel of the Cross church in Chapel Hill where he regularly ushered Sunday Services and attended a weekly book club.
Rob was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the spring of 2021 and was treated at UNC and Duke Hospitals. His grace, positivity, and strength throughout his illness were truly awe-inspiring. He was committed to being the best and kindest patient throughout his treatment and was grateful for the care he received from his medical team. He spoke about the importance of future cancer research, especially in the field of pediatric cancer. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Rob’s name to Children’s Cancer Research Fund at childrenscancer.org.