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$2M gift endows mechanical engineering book series

Oxford University Press and the Department of Mechanical Engineering jointly hosted a celebration to mark the inauguration of the MIT/Pappalardo Series of Mechanical Engineering Books. The October 3 event at Endicott House was attended by Chairman of the Corporation Alex d'Arbeloff, mechanical engineering faculty, staff and their children.

The MIT/Pappalardo Series of Mechanical Engineering Books will be published in perpetuity by Oxford University Press. This series has been made possible through the generous support of A. Neil and Jane Pappalardo, who have endowed the Department of Mechanical Engineering with $2 million to finance curriculum development and textbook writing.

The department's world-class reputation is due in part to the textbooks and other teaching materials its faculty have authored in the past. One of the major difficulties in making this a sustained effort has been the resources required to develop courses and to support book-writing activities. Often these books are written after long working hours, on weekends, during business trips and while children are taking afternoon naps.

Mechanical engineering has embarked on a more systematic development of teaching materials and books to maintain this tradition of producing outstanding books and to augment the department's completely revised curriculum. The Pappalardo series will make it possible to issue many more new books that reflect the faculty's commitment to education and scholarship.

A. Neil Pappalardo (SB 1964) is the CEO of Medical Information Technology, Inc. (Meditech), a leading supplier of information systems to hospitals. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Visiting Committee and a civic leader.

"He is not only a man of extraordinary intellect and penetrating mind, but also a philosopher who understands the reason for one's existence. He has the ability to make most complicated situations very simple by his ability to apply rational thinking and to remove fuzzy thinking from an issue. I find him to be refreshing and most delightful," Professor Nam P. Suh, head of mechanical engineering, said at the inauguration ceremony.

Jane Pappalardo, who holds a degree in music from Boston University, is on the board of trustees of Beth Israel Hospital and a major supporter of Boston Lyric Opera. The Pappalardos have been long-time friends and strong supporters of the department, establishing a senior faculty chair and the Pappalardo Undergraduate Laboratories and significantly aiding undergraduate education in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"This is the first time anyone has endowed a fund to support book-writing activity of a department in perpetuity," Professor Suh said. "It is also the first time that Oxford University Press signed up with the best academic department in mechanical engineering to create a book series."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 7, 1998.

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