In memoriam

Alvin Weiss

Chemical Engineering Professor and Global Ambassador

Alvin H. Weiss, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, passed away on March 6, 2022, at the age of 93. He was an authority on catalysis, particularly the use of catalysts such as zeolites in petrochemical production, pollution abatement, and fire protection.

Born in Philadelphia, he earned a BS in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and started his career at Fiber Chemical Co., a specialty chemical maker. He served in the Army Chemical Corps during the Korean War. While working for Colgate Palmolive, he earned an MS in chemical engineering at Newark College of Engineering. He then joined Houdry Process and Chemical Co, where he began his research on catalysis.

Albert Weiss

Albert Weiss

After earning a PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the WPI faculty in 1966. He was one of the founders of WPI’s zeolite research group and also founded the Catalysis Society of New England. He received WPI’s Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship and was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Weiss traveled extensively over his career to take part in international research and academic partnerships. Among other honors, he received three Fulbright-Hays awards to lecture in Israel and Turkey; participated twice in the U.S./U.S.S.R. Cooperative Science Program in Chemical Catalysis (once to collaborate in research on applications of catalysis in life support for space missions); and traveled to Argentina, Brazil, China, Italy, and Turkey as a representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. He was also a National Research Council research fellow in Bulgaria and Russia, and took part in a study mission with American Professors for Peace in the Middle East.

He is survived by his wife, Devorah, a daughter, a stepdaughter, a stepson, six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

—Michael Dorsey

Professor Emeritus Arthur Gerstenfeld

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Arthur Gerstenfeld, who founded WPI’s MBA program, the Namibia Project Center, and the Wall Street Project Center, passed away on Jan. 19, 2022, at the age of 95.

He earned his BME in industrial engineering at RPI and his MS and PhD in management at MIT. He began his WPI career in 1978 and served as the first head of the Department of Management from 1978 through 1984.

He also directed the Wall Street Project Center—the Art Gerstenfeld Endowed Fund for that center was created in 2014 to honor his long service and to strengthen WPI’s presence within the financial sector.

Art was a noted researcher and author. He won substantial grant funding and led numerous applied research projects from the Department of Education, USAID, and NSF. He published 55 articles and authored nine books, one of which was translated into Japanese. He held four patents for his work in Air Traffic Control Systems. He also served as a manager at NASA’s Cape Canaveral (Cape Kennedy) in the early 1960s.

Despite his accolades and accomplishments, Art will be remembered most for his teaching. He taught courses in the Operations and Industrial Engineering discipline, including Managing Technological Innovation and Production System Design. He also taught an interdisciplinary course in Finance and Technology as well as Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He led PQP and MQP efforts in Namibia, London, New York, Costa Rica, Australia, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. His interdisciplinary seminars, Learning Language through Music and Exploring the World through Music, brought together his interests in music and technology. A trailblazer, he was engaged in an Industrial Engineering project that sought to realize energy independence by 2015 through a focus on wind power.

Over a WPI career that spanned more than 40 years, Art left an indelible mark on WPI and what is now The Business School.

John Powers

John Powers ’61, a dedicated WPI volunteer and supporter, passed away on Dec. 31, 2021.

In the early 1970s, John served as secretary and later as president of the Connecticut Valley Alumni Club. He was also a Civil Engineering Advisory Board member, an alumni admissions volunteer, Alumni Council representative, head class agent, President’s Advisory Council solicitor, and a member of his 25th and 40th Anniversary Gift Campaigns. He joined the Alumni Fund Board in 1995 and led the Annual Alumni Fund Committee, organizing and recruiting more than 1,500 class volunteers to launch reunion and anniversary gift campaigns. His efforts had impressive results, helping to double the Annual Fund over five years and increase alumni participation. He was also a philanthropic leader as a Presidential Founder and Alden Society member.

John had a long and distinguished career at Tighe and Bond, a more than 100-year-old engineering, landscape design, and environmental consulting firm, with strong ties to WPI. Under his leadership, the firm was among the first to contribute to the Rubin Campus Center.

In 2001, John received the Alumni Association’s Herbert F. Taylor Award for Distinguished Service to WPI in recognition of his commitment to his alma mater.

Dean Michael O’Donnell, teaching professor in computer science and architect of the IMGD program, passed away while this issue of the WPI Journal was being put together. An extended obituary will appear in the next issue.

George Fetherolf, Jr. ’44 ME, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

John Barrett ’46 CE, Plymouth, Mass.

Otto Kern ’48 CE, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Hampden, Mass.

Richard Seagrave ’48 ME, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Springfield, Mo.

Donald Sands ’51 CH, Lexington, Ky.

Robert Meyer ’52 ME, THETA CHI, Slidell, La.

Robert Chiabrandy ’53 ME, Burlington, Vt.

Charles Simonich ’54, PHI KAPPA THETA, East Longmeadow, Mass.

Henry Manseau ’55 EE, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Scarborough, Maine

Robert Pearce ’55 EE, Juno Beach, Fla.

Joseph Cimerol ’56 CHE, Hamden, Conn.

James Clarke ’57 CHE, THETA CHI, Stone Mountain, Ga.

John Stinson ’57 CE, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Hanover, N.H.

Richard Wright ’57 EE, SIGMA PHI EPSILON, Plymouth, Mass.

George Prozzo ’57 EE, Sarasota, Fla.

George Fotiades ’59 EE, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Robert Price ’59 ME, MSME, SIM, St. Augustine, Fla.

Douglas Farrand ’60 CE, ALPHA TAU OMEGA, Maumee, Ohio

Harold Schmidt ’60 CHE, SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON, Hopkinton, Mass.

Kenneth Anusavice ’62 ME, Saint Augustine, Fla.

William Belanger ’62 MNS, Millbury, Mass.

Raymond Coppa ’64 MNS, Cranston, R.I.

Robert Shaughnessy ’64 MNS, Fitchburg, Mass.

James Ratches ’66 MS PH, PhD PH, Alexandria, Va.

Charles Bergeron ’67 EE, PHI SIGMA KAPPA, Saco, Maine

Anna Granquist ’67, Holden, Mass.

Thomas Ricchi ’67 EE, THETA CHI, Parrish, Fla.

Todd Akin ’70 MG, PHI GAMMA DELTA, Wildwood, Mo.

Elden York ’70, EE, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Arthur Geetersloh ’72, Greenville, Maine

Vahe Krikorian ’72 ME, THETA CHI, Milford, Mass.

Lester Lier ’75, Princeton, Mass.

Brian Burd ’95 ME, Milford, Mass.

Brett Keisling ’95 ME, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Ryan Byrnes ’97 MGE, SIGMA PI, West Bridgewater, Mass.

James Wang ’03 CS, San Jose, Calif.

Ronan Banavige ’23, Maple Plain, Minn.

Deborah Coleman, Hon. PhD, Portland, Ore.

Valentin Gapontsev, Hon. PhD, Worcester, Mass.

The WPI community also notes the passing of these friends of the university: Geraldine Miller, Elizabeth Tomaszewski, and Andrew Ursch.

Complete obituaries can usually be found online by searching or newspaper websites. WPI Journal will assist classmates in locating additional information. Contact

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