Dr. Salah Elmaghraby (1927-2016)

Dr. Elmaghraby known for his selflessness and work ethic, leaves a storied legacy at NC State and a legion of students around the world

On June 12, 2016, ISE Professor Emeritus, Dr. Salah Elmaghraby passed away at the age of 88 in his Raleigh, N.C. home. Dr. Elmaghraby joined the NC State University faculty in 1967 with the mission of starting a graduate program in Operations Research, one of the University’s first interdisciplinary programs. He was the program’s founding director for the next 20 years, while also serving Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) and the University in several other positions for more than four decades.

During his tenure, Dr. Elmaghraby made many groundbreaking contributions in research, education and service to both operations research and industrial engineering. For these achievements, he was recognized by the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) with the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award, described as “the highest and most esteemed honor presented by the Institute and recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the welfare of mankind in the field of industrial engineering. The contributions must of the highest caliber and be nationally or internationally recognized.”

He also received the Fellow Award from IISE and from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). The NC State Board of Trustees awarded him the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal, the highest award given to an NC State faculty member for lifetime professional achievement in teaching, research and service. Although he retired from teaching in 2010, he remained an active member of the University community.

Dr. Elmaghraby was born in Egypt and earned his mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree from Cairo University in 1948. After working for a short time in Cairo, he accepted a teaching position at his alma mater in 1949. His career with the Egyptian Railroad’s Foreign Inspection Office took him to Europe where he saw the aftermath of WWII and the expansion of communism. These experiences taught him the value of education and led him to pursue graduate studies in the United States.

In 1955, Dr. Elmaghraby received his master’s in industrial engineering at Ohio State University, completing both his coursework and thesis in just one year. He attended Cornell’s prestigious mechanical engineering program where he earned his doctorate. in 1958. After graduation, he worked as a research leader at Bell Labs and as an associate professor at Yale University before coming to NC State.

Most recently, the International Conference on Information Systems, Logistics and Supply Chain created a paper competition as a tribute to Dr. Elmaghraby. It aims to reward excellence in scientific work.

Dr. Elmaghraby will be remembered for his excitement of learning new ideas from different cultures and disciplines, his selflessness and tireless work ethic. His open-mindedness and appreciation of all subjects made him a true scholar. He leaves a storied legacy at NC State and a legion of undergraduate, masters and doctorate students around the world.