Nadler, USC professor emeritus and former IIE president, passes away

From staff reports

Gerald Nadler, center, displays a plaque for his USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award with his wife Elaine and ISE Department Chair Jim Moore in 2010. (Photo courtesy USC Viterbi School of Engineering)

Gerald Nadler, professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Southern California, died July 28. He was 90 years old.

For decades, Nadler made key contributions in multidisciplinary systems planning and design methodologies and in teaching technological literacy to nonengineering students. His achievements as a pioneering scholar and educator in his field earned him membership in the National Academy of Engineering and selection as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Engineering Education and several other organizations including the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), for which he also served as president.

"Gerry Nadler exercised a lasting and wonderful influence on the intellectual life of the USC Epstein ISE Department’s faculty and students, on the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, on the University of Southern California, and on our field as a whole," said Dr. James Moore II, IIE's president-elect and vice dean for academic programs at the Viterbi School of Engineering. "Few scholars can claim a contribution of such importance, sweep, and scope. Gerry never truly retired, remaining a steadfast contributor to the academic mission of the Epstein ISE department and to the discipline of industrial and systems engineering until the moment of his death."

Nadler first joined IIE in 1952 and has received practically every award given to members. He received the highly regarded Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award in 1992.

A prolific scholar and prescient in his interdisciplinary approach, Nadler authored more than 225 published articles and 15 books. In examining the processes used by successful managers and designers, he introduced the concept of breakthrough thinking as a way to design, develop and improve systems and organizations. One of his books, Breakthrough Thinking: Why We Must Change the Way We Solve Problems, and the Seven Principles to Achieve This, has been translated into 10 languages.

Nadler held five visiting professorships, four of them abroad, and he was on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before joining USC in 1983. He served as chair of the Viterbi School’s Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering from 1983 to 1993 and directed USC’s Center on the Management of Engineering, Research, and Innovation in Technology.

In retirement, Nadler shared his expertise as a member of the board of directors of the USC Credit Union and the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission. He was honored by USC with its Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Nadler was a graduate of Purdue University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1945, a master's degree in industrial engineering in 1946, and his doctoral degree in 1949.

The IIE Los Angeles Chapter has set up a comment board where remarks about Nadler can be posted. Click here to visit the online board.