Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Mexico Tech Loses Dear and Beloved Professor

By Thom Guengerich
New Mexico Tech

New Mexico Tech lost a dear and beloved professor on Saturday, Dec. 11, when Dr. Osman T. Inal passed away at his home after a long battle with illness. He was 70.
“Dr. Inal was not only a superb teacher, but an outstanding researcher and a close personal friend,” New Mexico Tech President Dr. Daniel H. López said. “The entire New Mexico Tech community is saddened by his death and he will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Inal joined the faculty at Tech in 1972 as an associate professor of materials engineering, and earned full professorship in 1980. He added the title of associate vice president and dean of engineering in 2001. He also served as department chair for more than 15 years.
He was a prolific researcher, and authored or co-authored more than 230 publications. He advised 40 master’s students and 18 doctoral students during his time at Tech.
“Osman’s enthusiasm for working with students and guiding them from undergraduate through postgraduate work was unmatched,” López said. “His dedication not only to students, but to this institution was total, deep and unabiding. Our farewells go to our great friend.”
A native of Turkey, Dr. Inal is survived by his wife, Serife, their daughter, Nazli, his siblings and nieces and nephews. As of Monday, Dec. 13, no services have been planned.
Osman Tugay Inal was born on Feb. 29, 1940, in Turkey. He was especially proud of having a birthday on Leap Day. On his most recent birthday in 2008, he accentuated the fact that he was celebrating his 17th birthday.
Dr. Inal earned his first bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. He then earned three degrees in metallurgical engineering from Columbia University: a bachelor’s degree in 1964; a master’s degree in 1965; and his doctorate in 1969. After working three years in Southern California, he joined the Tech faculty in 1972.
“Dr. Inal’s profession and career at New Mexico Tech was a huge part of his life,” said his fellow professor in materials Dr. Paul Fuierer. “His unique personality is legendary among students. As longtime chair of the Materials Engineering Department, Osman’s legacy will last for years to come.”
Dr. Inal’s specialties included explosive welding and forming, polycrystalline intermetallics, plasma and laser surface modification and the development of reactive solders and braze alloys.
Dr. Deidre Hirschfeld, another colleague at Tech, said Dr. Inal cared deeply about his students’ success and that he lived to teach. He was teaching classes this semester and planned on teaching classes again next semester, she said.
“He was a strong promoter of New Mexico Tech and an excellent recruiter,” she said. “Everyone knew of Dr. Inal’s cantankerous personality, but he did a lot for materials engineering at New Mexico Tech and he did a lot for New Mexico Tech in general.”
Dr. Inal and his wife always helped international students at Tech, welcoming them into their home and treating them like family.
“He was a deeply sensitive guy,” said Dr. Peter Gerity, vice president of academic affairs. “He and his family took in every international student who came to Tech. He gave selflessly to helping them financially and with culturalization to the United States. He was a deeply caring person for students. This is a loss of a good friend to New Mexico Tech – a loyal and dear friend in every way possible.”
Over the years, Dr. Inal established a pipeline of Turkish students who came to Tech, including several of his nephews. He was also an effective recruiter domestically.
“He’s well known and has many friends throughout the United States,” Hirschfeld said. “He’s closely related to many researchers at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. Many of his students have gone on to very prestigious positions.”
He was an active member in many professional and academic societies and regularly volunteered for service to New Mexico Tech, professional societies and government committees.
Dr. Inal won the university’s Distinguished Researcher Award at Tech in 1989. From the Alumni Association, he won the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2001 – the same year he was inducted as a Fellow in ASM International, the largest materials professional organization. Hirschfeld said Inal’s fellowship with ASM was an elite post and a crowning achievement for his career.
Dr. Gerity said Dr. Inal’s research is recognized and cited worldwide. He was continuously invited to deliver keynote addresses at international conferences throughout his career, he said.
Dr. López said, “As Adlai Stephenson said on the occasion of Dag Hammarskjöld’s death, ‘We will mourn his death until the time of ours.’”.

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