Elhami Ibrahim, a retired Cal Poly Pomona associate vice president of Academic Programs and a former longtime engineering professor, has died. He was 72.
Dr. Ibrahim, a native of Egypt, was among the first group of students that then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sent to the former Soviet Union to study in the late 1950s. He earned his doctorate at the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas in 1970.
He taught electrical engineering in Russia, Egypt and Libya before moving to the United States in 1985 to accept a job at Cal Poly Pomona. The Upland resident was a member of the electrical and computer engineering department.
An expert in instrumentation and control issues, Ibrahim received the 2005 Jake Groenewegen Award from the Los Angeles Section of the ISA Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society and the Don W. Thompson Award in 2007. He also was named professor emeritus in 2007.
Aside from his Academic Programs and teaching roles, Ibrahim also served as the director of graduate studies and research for the College of Engineering.
In an email sent to colleagues, Professor Rajan Chandra cited Ibrahim’s key role in the creation of graduate school programs within the College of Engineering, including master’s degrees in engineering management and structural engineering, as well as the off-campus aerospace program.
“He had a tremendous influence on my contribution to our MSEE (master of science in electrical engineering) program,” Chandra writes. “…. Also, Elhami played a key role in the launch of our BS program in computer engineering.”
Professor Gerald Herder said that although Ibrahim was retired, he remained on campus teaching until a couple of years ago and continued making contributions to Norman Nise’s best-selling textbook on controls. Herder, a professor in the engineering technology department, worked with Ibrahim on many electrical engineering projects. They met in 1989.
They worked together on the university’s first solar car, which was driven from Orlando, Fla., to Detroit in the 1990 GM Sunrayce. The car they built, dubbed Solar Flair, was later retrofitted and raced in an event in Australia, Herder says.
“He was a colleague in the truest sense of the word,” Herder says. “He was very genuine. When you worked on a project you worked together. He was a gentle mentor also.”
Herder and Ibrahim, along with fellow engineering Professor Frank Smith, department Chair Richard Cockrum and others, worked to get National Science Foundation grant funding to establish an instrumentation lab in the department.
Smith says that he, Ibrahim, Herder, along with colleague Chuck Savant, wrote a textbook. For almost 30 years, Smith and Ibrahim had offices next to each another. The duo worked on several consulting projects designed to help solve problems for the engineering industry.
“Elhami was very good at solving problems for the industry,” Smith says. “He designed systems such as an electronic shifter for 18-wheeler trucks, for example, and control of air-flow temperature to pneumonia patients.”
He and Ibrahim lived close to each other, and Smith would tend to the pets when Ibrahim went on vacation, Smith says.
“He was a true friend who would do anything for you,” Smith said. “He loved working with students. He would bend over backwards to help.”
Ibrahim, a chess master, was involved with several student organizations and served on the Western Association of Schools and Colleges committee.
Daughter Inga Kiderra lauded his generosity and kindness.
“He had a very big heart, not just as a dad, but as a human being,” she said.
Ibrahim is survived by his wife Nadia; his daughter Inga Kiderra, and his granddaughter.
A memorial service for Ibrahim was held on Dec. 30 in Upland. A memorial online guest book has been created.