Doc Cochin – When Jewish Hands Are Smiling


Thank you to the encyclopedic Arya Eisner who, after reading my blogs about the passing of Ira “Doc” Cochin, recalled an undated Olomeinu article about him and tracked it down through the Valley of Google:


The author of the article is Yitzchak Cochin, who is Ira, writing about himself in the third person.  Though when it comes to Doc and his multidimensionality, I’m not sure third person does it justice.  The graphic above which appears at the end of the article doesn’t have the usual artist’s name for proper attribution, but it captures the essence of Ira in synagogue, exactly as I recall him.  Chances are it’s embedded somewhere that isn’t obvious, as mysterious and mischievous as the man himself.

For reference, here is the four part blog on Doc from the professional side:

Ira Cochin 10/13/25 – 12/17/16

Ira “Doc” Cochin – Part 2

Ira “Doc” Cochin – Part 3

Ira “Doc” Cochin – Part 4 (Finale)

Doc’s granddaughter, Renata Martin, wrote a beautiful tribute encapsulating his life and accomplishments on her Facebook page the day after he departed:

An unequivocally innovative, creative, fearless, generous, punny, compassionate man, our grandfather Ira Cochin passed away last night.
The funeral service will be today, Sunday, December 18th 2016, at 1:30pm at the Louis Suburban Jewish Chapel at 13-01 Broadway, Fair Lawn, NJ.
If your life has been touched by this man and you’re able to join us, please do. Information about how to get to the burial, the kiddush and shivah will be shared at the funeral. We will also be sitting shivah in Fair Lawn for the next seven days. I will update here when we know the time and location.
Dr. Cochin (“Doc”) worked as an engineer for 15 years in industry for companies such as Kearfott and Bendix. Then he was a professor for 36 years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. During his professorship, he became blind. He went for training at the New Jersey Rehabilitation Center and became the world’s first blind professor to teach engineering — a highly graphical subject. His accomplishments appeared in the New Jersey Supplement of the Sunday New York Times in December 18, 1977. After eleven years of blindness, Dr. Cochin then became deaf as well. He enrolled as a full-time student at the Helen Keller Center for the Deaf-Blind. He returned to NJIT and though deaf and blind, he continued teaching full time till his retirement 17 years later. He became the world’s first deaf-blind teacher of engineering. His accomplishments appeared in various newspapers and technical journals.
Miraculously, his sight came back when he was in his 70s, and he reentered a world with tiny mobile computers and the internet at your fingertips. Ira was always rigging up something, from metal Erector models to revamped wheelchair walkers, from cat boundary vestibules to systems for nutrition tracking. With a full workshop in his basement, up until last week he regularly used a table saw, drills and other power tools to build furniture, train layouts, and fix just about everything. He’s been recycling since way before it was cool, and little did we know as kids, but that “food trash” bin we had was actually compost. He continued writing books and keeping a blog up until his very last days. Last week, he said that he had “completed his life’s work.”
Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from City College of New York
Masters from New York University
Ph.D. from Cooper Union (he was the first Ph.D. in Engineering awarded by Cooper Union!)
Faculty member at NJIT for 36 years, from 1963-1999
Awarded 35 patents, from optics to inertial navigation
Created the “Macro Lab” at NJIT with Dr. Harry Herman and Professor Lawrence Schmerzler. The Macro Lab was formally described as “a barrier‐free facility brought together to develop devices, educational aids and training models for handicapped students,” and was featured in a New York Times article on December 18th 1977.
Wrote many books, from engineering manuals and textbooks, to historical analyses, to novels, including the definitive textbook on gyros
He was also recently honored by his Synagogue for his accomplishments

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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