In Memoriam

Jun 22 2017 | By Maggie Hughes

Bruno A. Boley, Professor

Professor Bruno A. Boley, a distinguished figure in engineering mechanics, died on February 11, 2017. He was best known for his work on thermal stress analysis and for his highly regarded textbook Theory of Thermal Stresses.

Boley was born Bruno Bollafio in Gorizia, Italy, in 1924. After a hurried exit from Italy to escape anti-Semitic laws, and a circuitous trip through Europe, his family arrived in the United States in 1939. The change in family name followed.

Boley earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the College of the City of New York in 1943. In 1946, as a student of the eminent Nicholas Hoff, he earned a doctorate in aeronautical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he remained as an assistant professor until 1948. Boley worked for Goodyear Aircraft for two years, then returned to academia. He was an assistant professor of aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University until 1952, associate professor and then full professor of civil engineering at Columbia University until 1968, J. P. Ripley Professor and chairman of the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell University until 1972, and Walter P. Murphy Professor and dean of the Technological Institute of Northwestern University until 1986, when he returned to Columbia.

Boley made significant contributions in a wide spectrum of applied mechanics. In particular, he received international recognition for his work in the analysis of thermal stresses, exhibited in the classic treatise Theory of Thermal Stresses, which he coauthored with Jerome H. Weiner. He was awarded the Warner Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Theodore von Karman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1975.

In addition to his engineering work, Boley was involved in many governing bodies and technical societies. He was a founder of the Association of Chairmen of Departments of Mechanics, editor-in-chief of the journal Mechanics Research Communications, and president of the American Academy of Mechanics and the Society of Engineering Science. He also served on the Board of Governors of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of Argonne National Laboratory and was chairman of the U.S. Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.

Boley’s interest in intellectual areas outside his principal discipline was eclectic. He had a particularly deep knowledge of European history and literature, especially Italian, and was an accomplished public speaker.

Boley is survived by his son, Daniel, and granddaughter Lelwani.


Leon Lidofsky, Professor Emeritus

Columbia Engineering Professor Leon Lidofsky, an expert on medical physics and nuclear safety whose mentoring was lauded by students, died on September 12, 2016, in Shelburne, Vermont. He was 93 and held the title of professor emeritus of nuclear engineering and medical physics.

Lidofsky served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and completed his undergraduate education at Tufts University before coming to Columbia for graduate school. He earned a PhD in physics from Columbia in 1952 and joined the Engineering faculty eight years later.

At Columbia Engineering, Lidofsky was a founding member of the Division of Nuclear Science and Engineering, the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, and the graduate-level Program in Medical Physics. His fields of specialization included nuclear physics, radiation transport and shielding, application of computers to nuclear research, and nuclear safety. He later extended the reach of his research to include radiation imaging and other applications of radiation in medicine. Of the 30 doctoral dissertations he sponsored, nine were in or directly related to the field of medical physics.

Lidofsky also established the Gussman Computer Lab and taught numerous courses. He was the principal investigator of an IBM project to develop a school-wide undergraduate course, Engineering Design with Interactive Computer Graphics. In 1988, he received the Great Teacher Award, an honor he valued. The citation reads, in part, "The Columbia community is proud to have you as one of its most insightful and compassionate faculty members."

In addition to his service to the University, Lidofsky served on government committees at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He was a consultant for American Physical Society (APS) Study Groups, Ebasco Services, IBM, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Schlumberger-Doll, and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, among others. He was also a fellow of the APS, a visiting research fellow at the University of Amsterdam, and a member of the American Nuclear Society.

At his retirement dinner in 1992, Lidofsky's colleagues praised his distinguished career in nuclear science, and his students remembered him as a brilliant and dedicated teacher who was always available to help. As one of his protégés wrote: "All the grad students I knew adored him. In fact, everybody did. He was always around, always available to anybody for anything."

Lidofsky is survived by his sons, Bart Lidofsky and Steven Lidofsky '75CC, GSAS (MPhil'80, PhD'80), and PS (MD'82), and two grandchildren. His wife, Eleanor, died in 2015.


Samuel Higginbottom BS’43, Former University Trustee

Samuel Higginbottom, a former Columbia University Trustee, aviation industry leader, and Columbia Engineering alumnus, passed away at his home in Miami-Dade County, Florida, on November 13, 2016. He was 95. His deep love of Columbia Engineering and dedication to its continued growth were on display throughout his life.

Higginbottom completed his undergraduate degree in civil engineering in 1943 and served in World War II. During his time in the service, he was awarded the Bronze Star and rose to the rank of captain. After the war, he began a long and successful career in the airline and aviation industries. He first worked for Trans World Airlines and then joined Eastern Airlines, where he served as president, CEO, and a member of the Board of Directors. In 1974, he transferred to Rolls-Royce N.A., an aircraft engine manufacturer, where he worked as chairman, president, and CEO until his retirement in 1986. He was named an Honorary Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the industry.

Higginbottom began his tenure as a Columbia Trustee in 1982 and served as chairman from 1986 to 1989. As chairman, he spearheaded numerous initiatives, including improving the appearance of the campus grounds. He was also eager to share his passion for globalization, which was shaped by his experiences abroad. He was a strong advocate for increasing the number of students with international experience at Columbia, regardless of financial background.

Higginbottom is survived by his wife Jana; children Samuel L. Higginbottom ’71CC, ’74LAW, Fair Higginbottom, and, Rowan Maclaren; stepchildren Guilherme, Geana, and Bruna Sieburger; brother Jim Higginbottom; nine grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.


Sameer Shetty MS’93, Board of Visitors Member

Sameer Shetty (MS’93, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research), a member of the Columbia Engineering Board of Visitors and an important partner in connecting Columbia University and India, passed away on October 17, 2016.

Born in 1971, Shetty was a Mumbai native and attended the Cathedral & John Connon School, a prominent private high school there. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics from DePauw University in 1992 and his master’s degree in operations research from Columbia Engineering in 1993. Shetty was managing director of Boving Fouress Ltd. (BFL), an Indian hydro turbine equipment manufacturer based in Bangalore. The organization provides “water to wire” solutions in the field of small hydro power systems.

Between 2010 and 2016, Shetty was an active member of the Columbia Engineering Board of Visitors, serving as an important partner in India. He was also involved with the Columbia Alumni Association India Advisory Council and helped launch the Columbia Global Center in Mumbai. Shetty enthusiastically volunteered himself as an essential link between a Columbia undergraduate education and many talented students in India. Notably, he was a member of the Alumni Representative Committee (ARC), working to provide Columbia with the opportunity to connect with Indian students who might not have otherwise been able to access the University. His legacy will live on through the generation of students he helped introduce to Columbia University.

Shetty is survived by his wife, Sohya; his three young children, Maanit, Maanya, and Myeisha; his mother, Soumyalatha Shetty; his older sisters, Smita Shetty and Sucharita Hegde; and his extended family, including nephew Rithvik Hegde ’10BUS and niece Priyadarshini Shetty ’11LAW.


Kenneth Brayer MS’65, Endowed a Professorship in Electrical Engineering

Kenneth Brayer (MS’65, Electrical Engineering) made contributions to the field of electrical engineering that stretch far beyond his prolific work in communications, computing, and networking. Brayer, who passed away on January 24, 2015, at the age of 73, will be remembered for his scientific achievements and his work as a mentor throughout his professional career.

A New York City native, Brayer was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, the City College of New York, and Columbia Engineering. After receiving his master’s degree in electrical engineering, he worked at MITRE, specializing in networking and distributed systems, until his retirement in 2002.

Brayer’s pioneering research provided some of the key creative advances that shaped the information age. Notably, he designed the first reentrant computer learning system (a form of artificial intelligence), developed concepts for low and medium Earth orbit satellite networks, and designed the largest military computer communications network of its time. He was also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, becoming an IEEE Fellow in 1990.

Brayer was associated with numerous universities as an instructor, thesis adviser, and consultant. In the words of his work associate Linsey O’Brien: “From his own experience, Ken knew the value of education and shared it. . . . His advice to colleagues on the value of education was as appreciated as his major contributions to the field of engineering.”

At Columbia, his legacy will continue in the form of an electrical engineering professorship. The Kenneth Brayer Professorship of Electrical Engineering will ensure that his contributions as a lifelong scholar, researcher, and teacher will have a lasting impact.



Edward Cohen (BS’45; MS’54, Civil Engineering), a distinguished Columbia Engineering alumnus whose projects included the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol, passed away peacefully on January 28, 2017.

Cohen, the son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and graduated from high school during the depths of the Great Depression. Determined to pursue an education, he took classes at numerous universities before finishing his undergraduate degree at Columbia Engineering in 1945. He worked his way through college, including as a laborer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Although he was rejected for military service because of a heart condition caused by rheumatic fever as a child, he was awarded a medal for civilian engineering service during World War II by the Corps. From 1948 to 1951, Cohen was a lecturer in architecture at Columbia and went on to complete his master of science in civil engineering in 1954 at Columbia Engineering.

In 1949, Cohen began working for Ammann & Whitney, where he remained for nearly 50 years, eventually serving as chairman and CEO from 1977 to 1996. Some of his most notable projects at the firm include the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and restoration of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The list of Cohen’s professional memberships and awards is robust and illustrious. At Columbia, he was the recipient of the Illig Medal in Applied Science in 1946 and the Egleston Medal in 1981. He also served on the Engineering Council, including as vice chairman, and on the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association Board of Managers.

Reflecting on the significant construction projects he was involved in, Cohen once said, “The important thing is to deserve monuments, not to have them.” He leaves behind his wife, Carol Simon Kalb; his children, Samuel, Libby M. Wallace, and James; and his stepchildren, Anne Kalb Bronner and Paul Kalb.

Jerome (Jerry) Robert Harris BS’46
 of Charlottesville, Virginia, passed away on January 3, 2017, at the age of 96. He had been vice president and general manager of the Mid-Atlantic Division of McCall Printing Company and cofounded the magazine printing company American Press.

Born and brought up in Manhattan, Harris’s first job was working as an office boy for the Straus family at R. H. Macy & Company. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939 and served during World War II in Iceland as an aviation chief radioman with Patrol Squadron 82, which later received recognition from the U.S. Navy for “outstanding heroism in action against enemy forces in Atlantic Waters.” Harris attended Columbia University as part of the V-12 Navy College Training Program. He earned his BS in electrical engineering in 1946 and was presented the USN ROTC and V-12 Unit Columbia University Sword for Outstanding Military Achievement. Harris was captain of the fencing team and vice president of the Columbia Branch of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. After graduating, he remained active in the Naval Reserve, teaching missile guidance systems and retiring as senior grade lieutenant.

Harris pursued a career as an engineer and business leader in the magazine printing industry. He became vice president and general manager of the Mid-Atlantic Division of McCall Printing Company and later cofounded American Press, an innovative magazine printing company in Gordonsville, Virginia. In the early 1970s, he served as president of the Magazine Printers Division, Printing Industries of America. He was also considered for the job of Public Printer of the United States in the Nixon administration, but he declined in favor of staying in the private sector.

Harris’s wife of 60 years, Carol, died in 2012. He is survived by his son, Robert Sean Harris; his daughter, Donna Harris Mustanski, and her husband, Steve; and his grandchildren, John and Anna Mustanski.

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