Professor Emeritus Igor Paul, an expert in product design and safety, dies at 87 | MIT News

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Professor Emeritus Igor Paul ’60, SM ’61, PhD ’64, an influential professor of mechanical engineering, passed away on Dec. 17, 2023 at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was 87. 

Paul was a member of the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty from 1964 until his retirement in 2003, and helped to develop the department’s design and manufacturing curriculum, which continues to thrive today. His research interests included product and machine design, safety, and risk analysis; robotics; biomechanics; and dynamic systems modeling. 

A leading expert in product design and safety, with a particular focus on sports devices like helmets, Igor served as an expert witness in many landmark product liability cases. He also contributed to the development of artificial joints and the development of inertial guidance systems for NASA and provided consulting services to a number of area hospitals and medical centers. 

Paul was known for his good nature, quick wit, and pleasant disposition, and his deep passion for teaching. Among the courses he instructed through the years were 2.72 (Elements of Mechanical Design), 2.70 (now 2.007, Design and Manufacturing I), and 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes). He served for many years as the faculty advisor to the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

He also co-authored more than 80 publications and won numerous awards in the areas of design, bio-engineering, and education, including the DeFlorez Award for Creativity in Design (MIT, 1960); the Ralph R. Teetor Distinguished Educator Award (SAE); Outstanding Orthopedic Research Award (Orthopedic Research Society); and the Carl Soderberg Distinguished Service Award (MIT, 2003). 

Paul was born on Oct. 28, 1936, in Kharkov, Ukraine, and migrated across Europe during World War II, arriving in the United States eight years later on Christmas Day 1951. After gaining admission to MIT, he earned all three of his degrees in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

He is survived by his wife, Natasha Paul (Gruzinov); his daughter, Tahisa Southwell of Las Vegas, Nevada; his son, Victor Paul of Zurich, Switzerland; and four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leo and Lily Paul; his sister, Nina Karouna; and his beloved daughter, Tanya Paul.

Outside of his professional achievements, Paul enjoyed tennis, golf, and traveling the globe. After his retirement in 2003, he and Natasha moved from Andover, Massachusetts, to New London, New Hampshire, then recently settled in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Paul leaves behind a legacy of scientific contributions, dedication to education, and love for his family. 

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