Sheldon Isakoff, AIChE Past President and Director of DuPont R&D

June 6, 2012

Sheldon E. Isakoff, a former director of Engineering Research and Development at DuPont and a past president of AIChE, died on Jan. 29, 2012, in Chadds Ford, PA, at age 86. In his 40-year career at DuPont, as both research director of the engineer- ing materials laboratory and director of the engineering physics laboratory, Isakoff was instrumental in developing DuPont’s nylon and Dacron processes, improving the company’s Mylar and Cronar processes, and launching the world’s first Lycra plant.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Isakoff received his chemical engineering education at Columbia Univ., earning his PhD in 1947. During this period, he also served in the U.S. Navy as an engineering officer aboard an air- craft carrier in the Pacific. In 1951, after servings as a Guest Fellow at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Isakoff joined DuPont’s research cen- ter in Wilmington, DE. There, he led projects on chemical process dynamics, polymer processing technology, and the early application of analog and digital computers to technical problems. As head of Engineering R&D, he helped to create new businesses in life sciences, electronics, and advanced materials. He retired from DuPont in 1990.

A Fellow of AIChE, Isakoff was a founder of the Institute’s Materials Engineering and Sciences Div. (MESD). He served on AIChE’s Board of Directors in the 1980s, and was elected Institute President for 1990. He received numerous honors from AIChE, including the Founders Award for Contributions to the Profession (1980), the Institute Lectureship (1984), the MESD’s Stine Award (1986), the Chilton Award from the Wilmington Local Section (1994), the Management Div. Award (1996), and the Van Antwerpen Award for Service to the Institute (1997).

Isakoff was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served as an advisor to the National Science Foundation and other institutions. He was also a president of the United Engineering Trustees and a chairman of the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

He maintained close ties with Columbia Univ., where he was an adjunct professor and an advisor to the chemical engineering department. He received the Columbia Alumni Association’s Egleston Medal for Distinguished Engineering Achievement in 1993. In 1996, he established the Sheldon E. Isakoff Scholarship at Columbia.

Isakoff’s wife, Anita, passed away in 2011. He is survived by his son, Peter, and his family.