Fall Advisory Board Meeting Focuses on the Profession of Industrial Engineering

Nov 9, 2010 | Atlanta, GA

The Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) hosted its fall advisory board meeting on October 22, 2010.   Advisory Board Chair Ed Rogers, global strategy manager with UPS’s corporate strategy, welcomed the group to campus and expressed how fortunate the Stewart School and the Board are to have Dr. Mike Thomas return to Tech as interim School chair.

After Rogers’ opening remarks, Thomas updated the board on the ISyE chair search committee and other School activities.   The chair search committee, which formed during the summer and comprises seventeen faculty, staff, and alumni, is being chaired by Vigor Yang, chair of the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. Current enrollment numbers for ISyE include 1,183 undergraduate students, 231 master’s students, and 171 PhD students.  Thomas introduced the fall 2010 issue of Industrial and Systems Engineering magazine, which was hot off the press.  The feature story focuses on ISyE’s graduate program, which U.S. News and World Report ranked first for the 20th consecutive year.  The feature article, “First in Its Class,” describes some of the attributes that form the underpinnings of a great graduate program and underscore how the program in ISyE measures up in comparison to others.  Thomas also reported that the Campaign Georgia Tech, which originally was slated to raise $1 billion and run through 2010, is now most likely going to have a goal of $1.5 billion and run through 2015. Georgia Tech, as a whole, has raised $916.3 million from July 2004 to date, and ISyE, which had an original goal of $50 million, has raised $40.2M to date.  Nancy Sandlin, ISyE director of development, and Thomas will work closely with central development as they determine ISyE's new goal.

Jane Ammons, ISyE professor and associate dean of engineering, hosted a discussion on what industrial engineers do today and where they are headed tomorrow.   Ammons opened her session by showing a video titled Industrial Engineers Make a Difference.  Sponsored by the Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads, the video features industrial engineers talking about the jobs they do, the satisfaction they experience, and the impact they make in people's lives.

Ammons then focused her discussion on some of the trends and drivers in engineering (climate change; energy needs; middle class growth; consumer demand; transportation; healthcare; waste; information paradigm shifts; shortage of food, clean water, and housing; growth of megacities;  and changes in sea levels), grand challenges in engineering (re-engineering healthcare delivery; engineering a sustainable society; developing better decision-making tools for a dynamic world; mitigating and responding to disasters; point-of-use manufacturing; infrastructure construction; and engineering for a safe, available, and affordable water supply), and strategic directions within the field. 

In summary, she stated that we are now seeing global opportunities in the field of industrial engineering and management, that the grand challenges are strategic imperatives for our research and education, and that we must position our students to achieve maximum impact by exploiting the unique strengths of industrial engineering.  For those interested in more information, she recommended reading NAE’s The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century.

 Following this discussion, two undergraduate students (Anna Smoak and Chelsea Sanders) and one graduate student (Animesh Garg) provided their personal perspectives on how they view industrial engineers and where they are in the program.

  • Smoak is a second-year industrial engineering student who is a part of the co-op program.  She is currently working in a hub distribution center for a company that makes and distributes healthcare products.  This experience has given her some practical knowledge and skills beyond her years studying in the field. Smoak, in her nascent stage of becoming an industrial engineer,  has already formed a working definition of industrial engineering,  “IE is about creating processes and systems and having the ability to think outside the box. “
  • Chelsea Sanders is a third-year ISyE student who spent the summer in Chile where she participated in the study and work abroad program.  “What really sets Georgia Tech apart is its global focus,” said Sanders.  “And ISyE is really pushing us to be prepared to work in this global community.”  She went on to say that learning in classrooms with ISyE’s top faculty is great, but you also need to get out in the world to continue your growth.  “You have to experience some things for yourself, and spending the summer working in another country required me to step, even further, out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn and grow outside the classroom.”  Sanders is not sure what she will do after graduation, but feels her options are infinite.  “ISyE has taught me how to think and problem solve; no matter what problem is presented to me, I can solve it.  I feel I have endless possibilities in the field of industrial engineering.”
  • Animesh Garg is a first-year graduate student who comes from a background in manufacturing, production, and automation.  Wanting to pursue his graduate degree, he decided to come to Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of ISyE “not only because it has been ranked number one for the last twenty years, but mostly because it has a large faculty who are pioneers in their fields, and I would have so many opportunities to do a variety of research.”  Garg feels that Tech is giving him an unparalled multicultural experience and continues to open many windows of opportunity for him.  “Georgia Tech has given me my wings and is telling me to spread them out and do what I want to do.  I am sure I will realize my potential here and come out with flying colors.  With an IE degree, I think I will be able to chose where I want to go.”

Ed Rogers discussed Georgia Tech’s new 25-year strategic vision and plan that President G.P. “Bud” Peterson launched in August.  The plan, “Designing the Future,” has five main goals and ten Institute-wide initiatives, which can be found in the full report at www.gatech.edu/vision.   An alumni subcommittee, led by Rogers, was formed to begin discussions on drafting ISyE’s strategic vision and plan.  Rogers concluded the meeting with advisory board business updates and wrap ups.

The spring advisory board meeting will be held on April 22, 2011.

On October 27th, Logistics Viewpoint addressed hiring IE’s in their article, “Supply Chain Teams Should Consider Hiring Industrial Engineers.” Click here to read the article. 

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  • (L to R): Mike Thomas, ISyE interim chair; Ed Rogers, ISyE advisory board chair; and Jane Ammons, ISyE professor and associate dean of engineering.

  • Friont Row (L to R): Anna Smoak and Patti Parker, undergraduate program manager. Back Row (L to R): Animesh Garg and Chelsea Sanders.

For More Information Contact

Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering