Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) dedicated the ISyE Studio, located in the ISyE Main building, in honor of former ISyE faculty member Cecil G. Johnson on April 22, 2016. Johnson was a faculty member for 37 years and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from ISyE. Former Delta Airlines CEO and ISyE Advisory Board member emeritus Ron Allen (BSIE 1964) and his wife, Marcia M. Allen, provided the endowment for the naming of the studio in Johnson's honor.
Ron Allen and Johnson had a long-standing relationship that began when Allen was an undergraduate ISyE major at Tech. The initial relationship, Allen says, began with the first ISyE class he took at Tech, which was with Johnson: “Professor Johnson had such a reputation for being tough. And I was working about 20 hours a week and carrying a full load, so I had limitations on what I could do. I’m glad I didn’t drop the class! What he taught us to do was think outside the box; [he] challenged us to do some nontraditional thinking in every aspect of the class.”
Eventually Johnson helped Allen get his first job with Delta, a part-time role as a methods analyst in the Methods department, while Allen was still a student. This led to a 34-year career with Delta for Allen, who served as Delta’s CEO for 10 years until 1997.
As for what he hopes the ISyE studio endowment will accomplish, Allen says, “It’s primarily focused on undergraduate students; it’s an area where students can think out of the box, get out of the norm, and think in extraordinary ways, and that is what Cecil Johnson stood for. He taught people to be contrarians and not just take what you see in front of you as the norm, [but] to think about different ways of accomplishing different types of goals.”
“You never forget someone like that,” Allen adds, “a mentor and friend.”
The ISyE studio was established to provide ISyE students with a workspace to foster collaboration, encourage interaction, practice presentations, and gain tutorial assistance. Students have access to the latest technology to complete team projects, presentations, and videos to name a few.
Johnson’s family, including his son, Gray, and his grandson, Alan – currently an ISyE student – also attended the ceremony.