In Memoriam: Salah Eldin Elmaghraby (Oct. 21, 1927-June 12, 2016)

NCSU professor, INFORMS fellow founded O.R. dept.

Dr. Salah Eldin Elmaghraby, a longtime and influential member of the global operations research academic community and an INFORMS Fellow, passed away June 8 at his home in Raleigh, N.C., surrounded by family and caregivers. He was 88.

A resident of Raleigh since 1967 when he was recruited to start up and head the Operations Research department at North Carolina State University, he went on to become a chaired university professor at his beloved institution.

Dr. Elmaghraby was born in Egypt and received his degree in mechanical engineering at Cairo University. Anyone who met him was immediately struck by his inquisitive mind and strong aptitude for his studies. After graduation, he worked briefly in Cairo, accepted the prestigious post of teaching assistant at the faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, and then traveled to Europe in 1949 with the Egyptian Railroads Foreign Inspection office as their quality control inspector.

While in Europe, witnessing the upheaval of the aftermath of WWII and Communism, Dr. Elmaghraby truly understood the value of education and the power of knowledge. This conclusion drew him to pursue graduate studies in the United Sates, where he first attended Ohio State University for his master’s degree and then continued to Cornell University’s Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering.

Upon graduation, Dr. Elmaghraby served as a research leader at the Western Electric Engineering Research Center in Princeton, N.J., and as an associate professor at Yale University before joining North Carolina State in 1967.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Elmaghraby traveled and lived around the world while enjoying visiting professorships at Cornell University Ithaca, N.Y.; the University of Alexandria in Egypt; the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; University Lyon I, France; the Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan; and Tsinghua University in Beijing, PRC. In addition, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University Lyon I, France.

Dr. Elmaghraby wrote four books, two of which were translated into Japanese and Romanian. He edited or co-edited three other books, including the “Handbook of Operations Research,” which was translated into Russian. In addition, he authored or co-authored eight book chapters, wrote 11 book reviews, and authored or co-authored more than118 scientific papers. In addition to being elected an INFORMS Fellow, he was a Fellow of IIE, a member of APICS and NSPE, and a registered PE.

Dr. Elmaghraby was a pillar of every community he touched – his university, his professional societies and the Egyptian community in Raleigh he helped found and grow, and his family. He sincerely loved to connect with others, was excited by the prospect of learning new ideas from different cultures and disciplines, shared of himself selflessly and worked tirelessly to accomplish any cause he deemed worthy.

An avid reader, a passionate sailor and a lover and patron of the arts, Dr. Elmaghraby’s open-mindedness and appreciation of all subjects and jobs made him a true scholar and a wonderful father.

Dr. Elmaghraby leaves a legacy of a thriving Operations Research department at NCSU and a legion of undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. students around the world.

Dr. Elmaghraby is survived by his wife, Amina, his two daughters, Wedad Jasmine and Karima Noor, his sisters Zeinab and Amina, and five grandchildren. Wedad Jasmine and her husband, Caglar Ozden, have three children, Nuray, Nedim and Leyla. Karima Noor and her husband, Ismail Radwan, have two sons, Zackaria and Zain. No one who met Dr. Elmaghraby did not know about his family and how important they were to him. Above all, his wife Amina was his constant partner in all of his endeavors.