• Mujid S. Kazimi

    Mujid S. Kazimi

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Mujid Kazimi, leading educator and researcher in nuclear technology, dies at 67

Mujid S. Kazimi

Leader of efforts to design new fuel cycles for nuclear power plants had been on the faculty since 1976.

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Mujid S. Kazimi, the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Engineering and one of the world’s foremost educators and researchers in nuclear technology, died suddenly on Wednesday in China.

Kazimi, who was 67, suffered a heart attack while visiting Harbin Engineering University to participate in an international advisory committee. He held faculty appointments in MIT’s Departments of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) and Department of Mechanical Engineering, and was director of both MIT’s Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems and the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment. He served as NSE’s department head from 1989 to 1997.

Current NSE department head Richard Lester shared the news of Kazimi’s death in an email to the department’s faculty on Wednesday, describing it as “a devastating blow.”

“The international community knew Mujid as one of the world’s great nuclear engineers,” Lester told MIT News. “In NSE, we also knew him as a wonderful human being. Wise, kind, tough when he needed to be, but always gracious and respectful toward his students and his colleagues — he was a true gentleman, and he was a good man. His dedication and loyalty to his students, and to the department, were inspirational. It is a huge loss for our department, and for our field. But his colleagues in NSE are grateful for the privilege of knowing and serving with him.”

Kazimi was born in Jerusalem in 1947, and later moved with his family to Amman, Jordan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Alexandria University in Egypt in 1969, then came to MIT, where he earned an SM in 1971 and a PhD in 1973. Before joining the MIT faculty in 1976, Kazimi worked briefly at Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Kazimi was an expert in the design and analysis of nuclear power plants and the nuclear fuel cycle. He supervised 45 PhD theses and 80 master’s theses at MIT; Lester notes that many of his students have gone on to faculty positions at universities worldwide, or to leadership positions in the nuclear energy field.

Kazimi was dedicated to the advancement of the profession, and advised governments, universities, and research institutions on the development of nuclear energy. He authored over 200 scientific papers, and co-authored, with Neil Todreas, a two-volume textbook, “Nuclear Systems.” 

Lester says that Kazimi’s contributions to the field included “numerous technological advances that promise to enhance the safety and economics of nuclear power plants.” Among his most important contributions are the development of annular fuel with internal and external cooling, offering the potential for dramatic reductions in the fuel operating temperature, thereby reducing the thermal energy stored in the fuel.

Kazimi also led efforts to develop a ceramic fuel cladding made of silicon carbide to replace the zirconium alloy cladding that is currently used in most reactor fuel. This new cladding, Lester says, “has the potential to reduce significantly the consequences of loss-of-coolant accidents in light water reactors,” because it greatly reduces the generation of potentially explosive hydrogen in such accidents.

Kazimi also made “a number of influential contributions to the development of technological strategies for the nuclear fuel cycle,” Lester says. “His research generated fundamental insights into the range of options for fuel-recycling technologies, enabling the sustainable development of nuclear energy along economically competitive paths that will take advantage of the abundance of natural uranium.” Kazimi co-chaired, with Ernest Moniz — the former MIT physicist who is now the U.S. Secretary of Energy — an influential, and widely read, interdisciplinary study on the future of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Kazimi received many honors for his work. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Nuclear Society and the International Nuclear Energy Academy, and recipient of the Kuwait Prize in Applied Sciences in 2011.

Kazimi served on many boards, including the board of trustees of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, a committee on the rejuvenation of scientific research in Kuwait, and the international advisory board on nuclear energy for the United Arab Emirates. He was a member of the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy, and at the time of his death was chairing its subcommittee on nuclear reactor technology.

Lester described Kazimi as “one of the world’s most distinguished educators and researchers in the field of nuclear technology. His outstanding scientific and engineering achievements are recognized around the world.”

Kazimi is survived by his wife of 41 years, Nazik Denny, by three children — daughter Yasmeen and sons Marwan (a 1996 MIT alumnus) and Omar — and by three grandchildren.

A memorial service for Kazimi will be held Oct. 1 in MIT's Bartos Theater, E15-070, beginning at 4:00 p.m. A reception will follow. Donations in his memory can be made to The Mujid S. Kazimi Memorial Fund to support future NSE graduate students.

For any questions about the memorial service, contact Carolyn Carrington at carrin@mit.edu or 617-253-7407.

Topics: Faculty, School of Engineering, Nuclear science and engineering, Mechanical engineering, Obituaries


I am extremely saddened to
hear passing away of Professor Mujid Kazimi. He was a great scholar, leader, educator
and above all a wonderful person. We all from community will miss this outstanding
person and it is great loss to nuclear engineering as a whole. I know Prof.
Kazimi has inspired many nuclear engineers including myself and I had a honor to
work with him on a project. He will be remembered not only for his professional
accomplishment but also for his great generosity, mentoring young generation, and
his passion for pursuit of truth in science and engineering. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Shripad T. Revankar
Professor of Nuclear Engineering
Purdue University

A great person, scholar, family man, loss to humanity. A Palestinian from Jerusalem I will miss him. God bless his soul.

I am saddened and sorry for the sad news. May God bless his soul and give his family the strength to cope.
I am honored to have attended high school with him in the west bank. So sad.

We are sorry to hear this. Our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at MIT.

His contributions to the field of nuclear engineering and his efforts to further educate some of our graduates will be remembered and appreciated.

On behalf of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Hacettepe University in Ankara-Turkey

After sending the above message, I visited the facebook page of the public group “Hacettepe Üniversitesi Nükleer Enerji Mühendisliği”, (HU-NEM, Hacettepe University Nuclear Energy Engineering), and found comments of graduates of HU-NEM related to this news. Here are those all (so far), translated into English:

-- May God rest his soul. (Allah rahmet eylesin.) We did not have enough money to buy the original of his book (Nuclear Systems), so we photocopied it. His right cannot be paid for. (Ziya Erdemir, 1993 graduate)

-- cannot be!... (Orhan Kınacı, 2012 graduate)

-- A name I cannot forget, though I have been away from the field... May God rest his soul. (Göktuğ Okan Oğuz, 1995 graduate)

-- His contribution to all of us is great. Condolences to us all. (Alper Keskin, 2007 graduate)

-- How invaluable the academicians and students he educated, and the books he wrote! May God rest his soul. (Refik Karagöz, 2004 graduate)

-- The author of the only book I took along when I was coming to the USA from Turkey for M.S. study. May God rest his soul. (Fatih Sinan Sarıkurt, 2012 graduate)

May u rest peacefully in heaven!

RIP Mr. Kazmi ...

Dear Kazmi Family,
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Prof. Kazmi. During my visit to Babson
College, Wellesley, MA, four years ago, I have met Prof. Kazmi, and spent a
great time with him. Prof. Kazmi was a great person. He will be truly missed. I will include him in my prayers.
My most sincere condolences.

انا لله وانا اليه راجعون

Nidal Neiroukh

A great loss to the educators in the world and a greater loss to Palestinians in diaspora and in Palestine. Rest in Peace.

He was a truly inspiring human being and a world-class nuclear engineer.

I want to shed a light on the family that raised professir Mujid which must have had great influence on his superb charachter. I am professor Maher Bader a Stanford University graduate and married to Mujids cousen also from Jerusalem.
Mujids father was a Mechanical engineer who was working in Jerusalem, his children where at a prestegious school in Ramalla Palestine now called Bir Zait Univerdity.

In 1967 Arab Israili war he was forced to leave his house in Jerusalem and never returned untill his father passed away so did Mujids mother.

Forced to leave his home of Palestine he started to work in Kuwait rasing 4 boys and 2 girls at Kuwait schools. Mujid was the oldest son he was sent to study in Egypt Alexandrea university with his sister while his othet brothers stayed in Kuwait. Then his fathet relocated to Riyadh Saudi Arabia where he served untill he passed away.

The brothers and sisters are now living in 5 different countries similar to most displaced Palastinians due to Israel's occupation. They are all from Jerudalem but never allowed to go there. Even my wife who is from Alhussaini family who where the leaders of Palestine never visited Jerusalem, Mujid as an American did visit Jerusalem.

Even though i fell so sad that the world does not understand the Palestinian struggle, i am pleased to say that all Mujids brothers are as succesfull as Mujid in their own fields of expertiese. Israel may have displaced many Palestinians but they have survived and proved to the world that Palestinians are great persons. I am prowed to have known Professor Mujid and his family and feel the loss for humanity, MIT, the Nuclear field, and most all the loss of a great Palestinian.

I did not talk about the American side of Professor Mujid of MIT because his friends know this part. Thank you for reading this.

Professor Maher Bader

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