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Morteza "Monte" Mehrabadi Morteza "Monte" Mehrabadi

In Memoriam: Morteza “Monte” Mehrabadi

As a dean and a scholar, Mehrabadi ushered in a new era of success for the College of Engineering.
By Michael Price

Morteza “Monte” Mehrabadi, dean of the San Diego State University College of Engineering and a professor of mechanical engineering, passed away on March 13, 2018, after a brief illness. Mehrabadi served as dean since 2014, shepherding the college’s growth and unprecedented grant-winning success, attracting bright new engineering faculty, playing an instrumental role in the construction of the new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex (EIS) and serving as a friend and mentor to countless students and colleagues.

“I will always be grateful to fate, which gave me such a colleague and friend as Monte,” said mechanical engineering professor Eugene Olevsky. “I think he was a true blessing to our department, college, and the whole university. Not only was he a top-level professional, an excellent scientist and a great administrator, but he was also an incredibly kind, gentle, and very intelligent person. He is one of those rare people who leaves a deep mark in our lives.”

Mehrabadi grew up in Iran. From an early age, he was mechanically inclined, building a film projector made from a roll of film and a homemade gear system, as well as his own roller skates with customized ball bearings. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tehran in 1969 before moving to the United States to complete his master’s and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Tulane University in Louisiana.

Mehrabadi held a series of fellowships and professorships at Tulane and at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, before joining SDSU in 2007 as chair of the mechanical engineering department. As a scholar, he studied the micromechanical aspects of material deformation and modeled the mechanical behavior of granular materials.

Mahasweta Sarkar, a professor in SDSU’s department of electrical and computer engineering, served on Mehrabadi’s hiring committee. She said he was instrumental in the growth and success of the College of Engineering over the past decade, and a person of unusual fortitude.

“Dean Monte was one of those rare human beings who possessed a silent strength of purpose and determination,” Sarkar said. “Never gregarious, always polite—even in the face of harsh criticism—and yet silently determined to take our college forward. His loss is a huge one for our college, not just because of his professional contributions, but also for the person he was.”

Some milestones of Mehrabadi’s legacy as a department chair, professor and dean of the College of Engineering include helping to implement entrepreneurship as a hallmark of engineering curriculum at SDSU; recruiting numerous academically prodigious and well-funded new faculty members; forming partnerships with local business leaders to offer real-world experience and expertise for students; and helping to plan and design the EIS Complex, which doubled the instructional space available to engineering students.

Mehrabadi is survived by his wife, Ashi, and their daughter, Roxana.

“Always very friendly with people around him, Dean Mehrabadi created an atmosphere of comfort and warmth,” said civil engineering professor Janusz Supernak. “He was modest and soft-spoken, yet powerful in his quest for progress and excellence. He was a true gentleman: elegant, smart and caring. He will be missed, and remembered very fondly.”

An event celebrating the life and accomplishments of Mehrabadi will be held Friday, March 23, at 10 a.m. at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. Please RSVP for the celebration here.