James Demetry

Completed Careers: James Demetry ’58

James “Jim” Demetry, a longtime professor of electrical engineering at WPI and one of the earliest and most passionate advocates for the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), the most distinctive element of the WPI Plan—the university renowned project-based approach to education—died June 24, 2021, after a long illness.

Demetry earned bachelor’s (1958) and master’s (1960) degrees in electrical engineering at WPI and a PhD in the same field at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif., where he served as a civilian faculty fellow while completing his studies. He then taught at the NPS, rising to the rank of associate professor, before joining the WPI faculty in 1971, just a year after the faculty voted to adopt the revolutionary Plan.

He contributed significantly to the Plan’s implementation, most notably as the inaugural director of the Division of Interdisciplinary Affairs, which had primary responsibility for the IQP and student-designed interdisciplinary majors. He also greatly enjoyed opportunities to advise student teams completing IQPs at many of WPI’s global projects centers.

In 1986, he helped establish the Educational Development Council, which promoted high-quality teaching through workshops, annual grants for teaching innovation, and other programs. He served for a time as associate head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, chaired the faculty Committee on Governance and the Committee on Tenure and Academic Freedom, and was twice elected secretary of the faculty. He received the Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1995.

His interest in the environment spurred him to become involved in local government. He was appointed by the town manager to the Holden Planning Board, serving for nine years, and was elected to the Holden Board of Selectmen, serving for seven years, including one year as chairman.

Demetry leaves his wife, Susan Stafford, and three daughters: Sara Demetry, Chrysanthe Demetry ’88, and Athena Demetry ’91. He was predeceased by his first wife, Sally Weidlein, and his sister, Theo.

In Memoriam

Harris Miller 41, CHE, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Vienna, Va.

Walter Hatch 46, CE, Bethel, Maine

Louis Block 48, PH, ALPHA EPSILON PI, Ramona, Calif. 

Albert Merlini 48, EE, Laconia, N.H.

Richard Connell 50, EE, LAMBDA CHI ALPHA, Mendham, N.J.

Henry Taylor 51, ME, THETA CHI, East Livermore, Maine

Robert Lemay 57, EE, MS EE, PHI KAPPA THETA, New Fairfield, Conn.

Robert White 57, ME, LAMBDA CHI ALPHA, Forestdale, Mass.

Normand Bedard 58, EE, Saint Petersburg, Fla.

Donald Hayward 58, EE, Greensburg, Pa.

David Daubney 59, ME, MS Management, Douglas, Mass. 

Peter Nelson 59, ME, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Murrysville, Pa.

David Geoffroy 60, BS ME, SIM, THETA CHI, Holden, Mass.

Robert Hawes 65, PH, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Charleston, S.C.

Donald Rich 65, SIM, Fremont, N.H.

John Braun 66, Management, PHI KAPPA THETA, Parkland, Fla.

Georges Caplette 70, MS Natural Sciences

Herbert Coulter 70, BS CHE, MS CHE, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Newton Square, Pa.

Elden York ’70, EE, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Mark Candello 75, EE, Swanzey, N.H.

William Estabrook 76, SIM, Millbury, Mass.

Ronald Drewiany 79, CE, Middletown, Conn. 

Anthony Messa 79, MS Natural Science, Manchester, N.H.

Harold Morsilli 82, MS CE, North Smithfield, R.I.

Frans Soderlund 87, SIM

Mario Papale 89, SIM

Joseph Couble 93, ME, Spofford, N.H.

Lorenzo Desimone 22, CS, Greenville, R.I.

Jiyang Wu 22, RBE, Newton Center, Mass.

Liam Godin 23, CS, Cumberland, RI

The WPI community also notes the passing of these friends of the university: Elizabeth Halloran, C. McDonough, Kathleen Markees, Liz Tomaszewski, and Christine White.

Complete obituaries can usually be found online by searching legacy.com or newspaper websites. WPI Journal will assist classmates in locating additional information. Contact wpijournal@wpi.edu.

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