Aldo Crugnola, a longtime professor of plastics engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, died Sept. 4. He was 90.
Crugnola joined the faculty the UMass Lowell faculty in 1968. Before then, he was a researcher at the Institute for Industrial Chemistry in Milan under the famed Italian chemist Giulio Natta. He also was a research physicist for the U.S. Army laboratories in Natick, Mass.
Crugnola held a doctorate degree in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At UMass Lowell, Crugnola was the dean of the College of Engineering from 1977 to 1995. He was chairman of Plastics Engineering Department from 1973 to 1977.
Nick Schott, who became department chair when Crugnola became dean, said Crugnola retired about two years ago. "Teaching was his life and he stayed as long as he could," Schott said.
His expertise was mechanical-physical properties and process-induced changes in physical molecular structure. He was fascinated by medical applications, including leading research on the fabrication of polymeric or composite scaffold structures for tissue growth.
Schott said Crugnola was one of the pioneers in groundbreaking polymer medical advances in the 1970s.
"He didn't have any expertise [in the medical area] and we hired outside instructors to teach this as a graduate course, but Aldo took quite a bit of interest in this and he taught grad students," Schott said.
Crugnola led research activities of master's and doctoral students.
Schott said Crugnola was very interested in using polymers in ligament replacements in hip joints, knees, rotator cuffs and shoulders. He also researched artificial veins. "He was very active in that area," Schott said.
Schott and fellow professor Steve Orroth said Crugnola was a dedicated teacher. "He was very concerned about the students' welfare," Orroth said.
"As a teacher he was pretty strict," Schott added, "but he was very thorough and demanded a lot."
Crugnola served as executive director of the Plastics Institute of America, the educational and research organization, since 1996.
Crugnola was a Korean War veteran. He was a music enthusiast who loved opera and American popular music. Colleagues said he was very knowledgeable about wine. He enjoyed summers on the coast of Maine.
Visitation is Sept. 9, 2-6 p.m. at the Dracut Funeral Home in Dracut, Mass. The funeral will be held at the funeral home at 9 a.m. Sept. 10, with a funeral mass to follow at St. Marguerite D'Youville Parish in Dracut. Burial will follow in St. Michael's Cemetery in Boston.