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Koichi Masubuchi, professor emeritus of ocean engineering, dies at 92

Masubuchi, a leading expert on welding science and fabrication technology, also started the Japanese Language School.
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Koichi Masubuchi
Koichi Masubuchi

Koichi Masubuchi, professor emeritus of ocean engineering, passed away on April 1 at the age of 92 in Concord, Massachusetts. 

Masubuchi was a leading expert in welding science and fabrication technology whose work helped to progress the understanding of welding and the important role it plays in marine and aerospace structures. 

Born in Otaru, Japan, in 1924, Masubuchi served in the Japanese Navy during World War II as a ship fitter in a naval shipyard. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master’s degree from the University of Tokyo, both in naval architecture, and received a PhD in engineering from Tokyo University. He worked for five years as the chief of design and fabrication in the welding division of the Transportation Technical Research Institute in Tokyo before taking leave to serve in several different positions at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio until 1962. In 1963, he moved back to Ohio to serve at Battelle Memorial Institute once again until 1968, when he started as an associate professor of naval architecture at MIT.  In 1971, he was promoted to professor in the Department of Ocean Engineering, which later became part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He retired from MIT in 2001. 

Masubuchi was interested in welding from a young age and spent most of his career at Batelle and MIT dedicated to progressing the science and engineering of welding fabrication. He spent his first 10 years at MIT focused on solving welding problems NASA was having with its Apollo project. During his 50 years conducting research on welding technology, Masubuchi authored or co-authored more than 220 papers and supervised more than 130 theses. His main areas of expertise were in the heat flow, residual stresses, and distortion in weldments; the fracture of welded structures; and the welding technologies for underwater and space applications. 

Masubuchi served as president of the Japanese Association of Greater Boston from 1972 until 1981, and he started the Japanese Language School in 1975. 

He was a fellow of the American Welding Society and received the Order of Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Government of Japan for advancing welding technology and promoting friendship between Japan and the United States. 

Masubuchi was also a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASM International, the Marine Technology Society, the Society of Experimental Stress Analysis, and the Society of Naval Architects of Japan. 

Individuals wanting to make a donation in Masubuchi’s memory may send gifts to the Masubuchi Fund c/o Japanese Language School of Greater Boston at 792 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA 02476. The fund was established to support the Japanese Language School of Greater Boston in honor of Masubuchi.

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