Ascher H. Shapiro

Ascher Herman Shapiro (May 20, 1916 – November 26, 2004) was a professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He grew up in New York City.

Ascher H. Shapiro
BornMay 20, 1916
Brooklyn, New York
DiedNovember 26, 2004 (2004-11-27) (aged 88)
ResidenceJamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology (Sc.B., 1938) (Sc.D., 1946)
Known forCompressible flow and biomechanics
AwardsDrucker Medal (1999)
Scientific career
FieldsMechanical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorJoseph H. Keenan
Doctoral studentsThomas A. McMahon


Shapiro earned his S.B. in 1938 and an Sc.D. in 1946 in the field of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He was appointed assistant professor at MIT in 1943 where he taught fluid mechanics. He was Ford Professor from 1962 to 1975 and an Institute Professor from 1975 until he became Emeritus Institute Professor in 1986.

A prolific author of texts in his field, his two-volume treatise, The Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Compressible Fluid Flow, published in 1953 and 1954, is considered a classic. His 1961 book Shape and Flow: The Fluid Dynamics of Drag explained boundary layer phenomena and drag in simple, non-mathematical terms. In the 1960s, he began to conduct research in fluid flow in the body.

In 1961, he founded the National Council for Fluid Mechanics Films (NCFMF),[1] in cooperation with the Educational Development Center. The NCFMF released a series of 39 films, which have since then been widely used in the teaching of Fluid Mechanics.[2]

He was Chair of the Institute's Faculty in 1964-1965 and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1965 to 1974.

He was elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1952, the National Academy of Science in 1967, and National Academy of Engineering in 1974. He was awarded the Benjamin Garver Lamme Award by the American Society of Engineering Education in 1977. He was awarded the Fluids Engineering Award in 1977 and the Drucker Medal in 1999 by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was awarded honorary Doctor of Science in 1978 by the University of Salford and in 1985 by the Technion.[3]


  • Shapiro, Ascher H., Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Compressible Fluid Flow, Krieger Pub. Co; Reprint ed., with corrections (June 1983), ISBN 0-89874-566-7.
  • Shapiro, Ascher H., Shape and flow: The fluid dynamics of drag, Anchor Books, 1961.


  3. American Men and Women of Science, 22nd ed., v. 6, p. 719, Thomson Gale, 2005, p. 719, ISBN 0-7876-7392-7.
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