Raymond C. Grassi
Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Emeritus
1918 – 2007
Raymond C. Grassi was born on November 27, 1918, and died on August 16, 2007. He received both his B.A. (1940) and M.S. (1944) in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1942. In the mid-fifties, Professor Grassi was one of the original professors to break off from the mechanical engineering department and form the Department of Industrial Engineering at UC Berkeley, where he remained until his retirement on July 1, 1987. This department is now the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR), ranked third in the country, and is the only IEOR department in the UC system. He also became the chair of Continuing Education in Engineering at UC Berkeley Extension in 1974. Professor Grassi’s areas of expertise included facilities planning, materials handling, production systems, and manufacturing engineering. He has endowed a trust to the University to provide fellowships and scholarships for students pursuing similar areas.
Early in Professor Grassi’s career, his devotion to his field extended to his service to his country. In 1944, Professor Grassi accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy as lieutenant (j.g.) in the U.S. Coast Guard and worked on problems in the design and construction of welded steel merchant vessels. Upon returning to UC Berkeley in 1945, he assumed charge of the production laboratories. He undertook mechanical-metallurgical research for General Electric Corporation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research; performed sponsored research for the Office of Ordnance Research; and was engaged in operations research activities for the Office of Civil Defense and Mobilization, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the UC Operations Research Center.
Professor Grassi’s teaching and research interests included the synthesis and design of industrial systems, involving the use of analytical model construction. He conducted graduate courses, including policy-level problems in industrial engineering, and production systems and facilities. Common courses that he taught were Production Systems and Facilities, Facilities Planning and Design, Principles of Engineering Economy, Synthesis and Design of Industrial Systems, Production Systems Analysis, and Policy Problems in Industrial Engineering. In the spring of 1979, Professor Grassi reinstituted the Synthesis and Design of Industrial Systems for the first time in five years and brought the course up to a superbly high level of quality. This course required substantial instructor effort and involved supervision of 12 to 13 projects with associated contacts and progress reporting. In 1974, Professor Grassi succeeded Walter Soroka as the chairman of Continuing Education in Engineering, a department of UC Berkeley Extension. His duties involved directing the organization and presentation of a wide variety of courses for professional engineers, while continuing his teaching and research activities at the College of Engineering.
Professor Grassi was highly regarded in his field and remained active in his profession throughout his tenure at Berkeley. He was honored as a member of Sigma Xi and the Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society, and was a member of several professional societies, including the American Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the American Institute of Industrial Engineers. He was a registered professional engineer in mechanical and industrial engineering and served as California State Board examiner for the registration of industrial engineers. He was a consultant for the IBM System 3 Management Information System, involving the Bill of Material Explosion and Material Requirements Planning, and the development of database and system control procedures. He also served as a consultant to a case manufacturer responsible for the complete facility plans, personnel equipment, cash flow, and tooling for a plant designed to produce 200,000 units per year, which provided extensive firsthand source material for his courses Policy-Level Problems in Industrial Engineering, and Production Systems and Facilities.
Professor Grassi was also very active in his community. He served as the president and director of Orinda Park, a recreational association, and Hacienda Homes, a regulatory improvement association. In the late seventies, he also was active on the Contra Costa County Planning Commission, of which he became chair in 1979, and the Contra Costa County Orinda Area Planning Commission.
The charity of Professor Grassi and his wife, Dorothy L. Grassi, will be appreciated and remembered for years to come. They generously set up a charitable remainder unitrust to be used for two different endowments at UC Berkeley: The Raymond C. Grassi and Dorothy L. Grassi Engineering Fund, to provide fellowships and/or scholarships for students in manufacturing, industrial systems, and service systems; and the Raymond C. and Dorothy L. Grassi Music Fund, to provide fellowships to students studying musicology in the Department of Music.
Through his contributions to the University, his field, his community, and our country, Raymond Grassi will be appreciated and remembered always.