Nino Masnari, alumnus, friend, and former faculty member of Electrical and Computer Engineering, passed away May 19, 2018 at the age of 82.
Prof. Nino Masnari earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in 1958, 1959, and 1964. He remained a true blue Michigan man throughout his esteemed career.
He joined the department in 1963 as a research engineer, and after a leave of absence from 1967-69 to conduct research at General Electric, he returned as an associate professor. His area of expertise was in solid-state microelectronics, in particular device processing, microwave devices, and integrated circuits. He served as Director of the Electron Physics Laboratory (later named the Solid State Electronics Laboratory) from 1977-79.
Of the twelve courses he taught between 1969-1979, Masnari recalled, “One of my favorite courses was 380 [now 320], Solid State Device Fabrication. It was sometimes challenging to get all the students motivated. When I talked about quantum mechanics, many students couldn’t relate to that. One student said, “This whole course reads like science fiction.”
While the course left some students befuddled, it was a favorite of one of his students, Khalil Najafi, Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who said, “That was one of our more challenging courses, but after taking the class with Nino, I decided to pursue this area. He was an excellent teacher who cared a lot about his students.”
In 1979, Masnari left Michigan to become Head of the Electrical Engineering Department at North Carolina State University. In 1988, he became the founding director of the NSF Engineering Research Center on Advanced Electronic Materials Processing and the SEMATECH Center of Excellence on Advanced Single Wafer Processing.
He subsequently was appointed Dean of Engineering in 1996, where he was responsible for 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students, and more than 600 faculty and researchers.
During his 10 years as Dean, Masnari completely transformed the College of Engineering, doubling research expenditures, becoming one of the largest producers of ECE degrees in the country, and quadrupling their scholarship funding. He also led new initiatives in diversity, and grew their distance learning program.
In 2000, the college received the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Masnari served as General Chair of the 2000 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Engineering Deans Institute, and was elected Chair of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council in 2002.
Masnari returned to the ECE department at NC State in 2006 as a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
In 2009, Prof. Masnari returned to the University of Michigan as recipient of the the CoE Alumni Merit Award for Electrical and Computer Engineering. During his talk, he recalled the importance of his relationship and friendship with George Haddad and Joe Rowe, and his memories of the unforgettable Bill Dow. Prof. Rowe gave Masnari his first experience with research as an undergraduate student, and Prof. Haddad was a colleague and friend throughout his life.
George Haddad, Robert J. Hiller Professor Emeritus, shared the following: “Nino was a great friend and colleague. He and I were graduate students at the same time .We worked closely on several projects both as graduate students and later as colleagues. Nino was an excellent scholar, educator, and leader. He is one of our most distinguished alumni, was an excellent professor here, and went on to transform the ECE Department and Engineering College at North Carolina State University. He was also a great competitor. I fondly remember the many battles we had on the golf course and the paddle ball court when he was here. Above all he was a very kind and considerate person . He will be missed by all who knew him.”
Prof. Masnari served on the ECE Council between 2014-2017, and provided valuable perspective based on his deep knowledge of Michigan and his leadership at NC State University.
“He was one of the best people I ever met,” said Prof. Najafi.