In Memoriam: Gunter Georgi
The entire NYU Tandon School of Engineering community mourns the recent passing of Industry Professor Gunter Georgi, following a long illness.
Although the word “beloved” is sometimes used too freely, it is no exaggeration to describe Gunter Georgi in that way. Some of that sentiment is no doubt due to the sheer number of students with whom he came in contact as the program director of General Engineering (EG) 1003, which introduces every engineering student at NYU Tandon to the design process, project management, technical communications, and the ethical considerations and social impacts of their work. With some 350 students studying these and other important engineering concepts every semester, it’s little wonder that Georgi was fondly thought of by so many — especially given his ready smile and friendly demeanor,
But numbers tell only a very small part of the story. Another part had to do with the sheer joy with which Georgi, certified as a PE, approached the profession of engineering. This was particularly evident when he recounted his days as a young engineer, helping to build NASA’s first lunar module. Brandishing a slide rule, he would explain that it was one of the few tools available to him as he conducted thermal analyses of the craft, which could reach temperatures of up to 360 degrees and down to -460 without proper thermal control. It wouldn’t do, he would quip, to either freeze or boil an astronaut.
Among the most important things he learned while working on the module, he always explained to his classes, was the importance of collaboration with those from other departments and disciplines. He stressed to them that as aspiring engineers, they needed to develop that same collaborative, team spirit that got man to the Moon. That — just as much as learning to use microcontrollers and sensors or becoming adept at prototyping and reverse engineering — was what he hoped they took away from EG1003. “It’s just three credits,” teaching assistant Daijah Etienne once said, “but that’s three credits that can make an enormous difference to your life.”
One of Georgi’s prized possessions was a certificate presented to him “in appreciation of dedicated service to the nation,” in recognition of his part in the successful Moon landing on July 20, 1969. He was equally proud, however, of his role in educating countless Tandon students and shaping them into the highly skilled, creative, socially aware engineers the world needs.
“The contributions Gunter made at NASA as a young engineer are impressive, but the contributions he made to our school are immeasurable,” Dean Jelena Kovačević, said. “As the director of the Introduction to Engineering and Design course, he made an impact on every student who walked through our doors, and generations of new engineers were educated and inspired by him. He will be sorely missed by everyone lucky enough to have studied or worked with him."
More memories of Gunter Georgi: Teacher, mentor, and friend
Gunter was a brilliant mentor, everyday I apply much of his advice in teaching, like encouraging students to use their intuition, and leading (that the role of leader is to shield everyone beneath them from the chaos above). His sense of humor made every interaction with him a pleasure. I will miss him dearly and hope that we can carry on his legacy at Tandon with the same positive wit and jovial mood."
— Jack Bringardner, Industry Assistant Professor in the General Engineering Department and Civil Engineering Department; Assistant Dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs, Academic Affairs; Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects Program
Professor Gunter Georgi was an amazing person, researcher, educator, and friend. He leaves behind a truly remarkable legacy, but what I will remember most will be his joyous laugh and kind disposition."
— Nicole Johnson, Assistant Dean for Opportunity Programs, Academic Affairs; Chief Inclusivity Officer
It is difficult to quantify the impact of Gunter’s contributions to the academic experiences and professional development of our students. With one course, Gunter changed the architecture of the first-year experience, making the engineering field more tangible. His reach also extended to our local K-12 students interested in being exposed to the field. I will truly miss his presence at Tandon and his affable way of engaging people."
— Melinda Parham, Assistant Dean for First-year Students, Academic Affairs; Chief Inclusivity Officer
Gunter will truly be missed. He was always that smiling face in the room and made those around him feel so welcomed. Gunter always wanted to make sure his students succeeded in his class and would always partner with us to find ways we can help support the students. Because of this, I always encouraged my students to talk to Gunter and use him as a resource because of his experience in the engineering field. I am grateful and honored to have known him."
— Tassamai Sawetpibul, Coordinator of First-year Advising
Gunter always had a kind presence. His energy will be greatly missed."
— Sita Dwarika, First-year Advisor
We all know the impact Professor Georgi has had on the university, its students, and the quality of education for first-year undergraduates over the past several decades. Melinda is right, it cannot be quantified. I sadly missed the funeral services, as my Professional Engineering licensing exam was that Saturday. I know I had Professor Georgi’s support that day, since I’m thrilled to say I passed and am now a licensed Professional Engineer! I am sure he would be very proud.
My mother worked down the aisle from Professor Georgi and Professor Doucette many years ago at Grumman. Professor Georgi also marched proudly down Fifth Avenue every year in the German American Steuben Parade. Needless to say, he was a long-time mentor and friend of the family in more ways than one.
I am glad he is finally at peace. He will indeed be missed. I am hopeful we can carry on his legacy at NYU Tandon and beyond, through all the students who are impacted by the work he set forth for us to continue."
— Cindy Rom, Adjunct Professor