"Engineering solutions should not only solve problems but also address the societal and environmental impacts they create," states Professor Sofia Perez-Guzman, emphasizing the holistic approach to engineering at Georgia Tech. 

In her roles, she applies her comprehensive academic background to deepen the understanding of engineering’s broader implications, focusing on how these fields impact society and the environment. 

Academic Steps in Resilient Engineering 

Perez-Guzman's scholarly journey originated in Colombia at the Universidad del Valle, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering.  

Her academic ambition propelled her to the United States, where she pursued a Master's degree in Transportation Engineering and a Master’s degree in Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

During her Master's studies, she engaged in research focused on the economics of freight transportation and its role in food deserts. She developed an analytical model to understand the formation of areas underserved by food supply chains.   

Perez-Guzman's educational achievements culminated in a Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering from RPI in December 2022.  

Her doctoral thesis centered on the realm of disaster response logistics, where she created humanitarian (beneficiary-oriented) analytical models for the distribution of relief goods in post-disaster scenarios.  

Emphasizing her unwavering commitment to enhancing the robustness and sustainability of supply chains, Perez-Guzman aims to bridge the divide between traditional responses and visionary foresight. 

Research and Teaching Pedagogy 

Her current research explores the societal impact of supply chains, specifically through the lens of freight transportation.  

This work seeks to develop decision-making support tools that address complex societal challenges where freight transportation plays a crucial role in either contributing to societal issues or helps in facilitating solutions. 

In the classroom, Perez-Guzman translates these complex research themes into digestible, actionable lessons. She is currently instructing an undergraduate course dedicated to Multimodal Transportation and is set to introduce a new graduate course on Freight Transportation in the Spring semester.  

"Our focus must be on developing research that is not only theoretically robust but also practical and implementable for those deploying these solutions in real-world scenarios. By understanding the needs of end-users and delivering tools that practitioners can readily employ, we move one step closer to making a tangible impact on the field." 

Transitioning from theory to practice, she envisions her students as future leaders who’ll prioritize long-term sustainability and resilience in their professional endeavors, contributing to the creation of smarter, more adaptable transportation systems and supply chains systems globally. 

Molding Holistic Supply Chain Leaders  

Amidst these advanced theoretical and practical frameworks, Perez-Guzman encourages her students to further personalize their educational journey. 

For students aiming to propel their career in Supply Chain management, Perez-Guzman encourages students to specialize and excel in a specific interest area.

"Dive deeper into your studies and seek out academic challenges beyond the syllabus. Engaging in competitions and embracing every learning opportunity your institution offers can equip you with a distinctive advantage. Remember, the aim is to distinguish yourself with specialized knowledge or skills.” 

Additionally, Perez-Guzman emphasized a crucial blend of technical prowess and soft skills for students venturing into supply chain management. 

"Georgia Tech students boast exceptional technical skills, a point that's well acknowledged. However, there's an increasing need for them to also focus on developing their soft skills, like communication, both oral and written. Modern companies seek more than just outstanding coders or data scientists; they require professionals who can translate complex theories, algorithms, and results into digestible content which is essential for decision-making. Therefore, it's crucial for our students to develop these soft skills to fully meet the interdisciplinary needs of the future." 

Author: Atharva Anand Dave

Sofia Perez-Guzman