Remembering a Collegial Renaissance Man

Guido Sandri served as a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at BU from 1983 to1998.
Guido Sandri served as a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at BU from 1983 to1998.

Guido Sandri, a highly esteemed, boundlessly enthusiastic professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering from 1983 to 1998 and adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Metropolitan College thereafter, died in Boston on July 19 after a long illness.

An expert in statistical mechanics and wave propagation who published nearly 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals over the course of more than a half century and had once corresponded with Albert Einstein, Sandri served as a catalyst for much of the old Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME) Department’s research. He organized several ongoing faculty research discussion groups and was a pillar of graduate education in the department, mentoring many PhD students who went on to highly successful careers. Among the courses he taught were a graduate mathematics survey course for engineers, advanced fluid mechanics, and propulsion. Student evaluations ranked him as one of the best teachers in the College.

“He was iconic and so deeply part of the College’s history,” said Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen. “Every time we walked past each other, his face would beam with a smile and he would say ‘How are you, professor, so nice to see you.’”

Associate Professor Sheryl Grace (ME) recalls Sandri as a renaissance man who took classes on Shakespeare, philosophy, music and art; an avid painter himself; and a mentor to most of the faculty in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering with a theoretical bent.

“He had a great sense of humor, and most of us remember the exuberant ‘Greetings Professor’ when he would see you in the hallway or on the street.  This was so awesome to hear from a senior colleague when you were a very young assistant professor.” 

Before joining the Boston University faculty, Sandri was visiting professor at Instituto Di Mathematica del Politecnico in Milan, Italy; senior scientist at Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton, New Jersey; visiting scientist and assistant to renowned physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton; visiting scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in Livermore, California; and reviewer for the National Academy of Sciences. He earned his PhD in physics at MIT, where he served as a research fellow, and his B.A. in physics at Harvard University.

For years after his formal retirement, Sandri maintained an office and remained integrated in the academic and scholarly fabric of the department.

“He taught the occasional course, helped to mentor students, and contributed to technical discussions in countless research meetings and seminars,” said Professor Ronald Roy (ME). “He even teamed with Professor Ray Nagem on research on a novel low frequency underwater sound source as well as a translation of a classic German book on the dynamics of tops. When Guido and I met in the hallway or on the T, he always greeted me with a brilliant smile and a cheerful hello. He will definitely be missed.”

Sandri is survived by his wife, Willma Nash Sandri. Condolences may be addressed to Professor Raymond Nagem, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University, 110 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA 02215. Donations–payable to Boston University-ME Dept. with “Guido Sandri” on the memo line–may be mailed to the same address, and will be used to support undergraduate student groups.