IOE Graduates Celebrate Their Success

The IOE Department is incredibly proud of its 2016 graduates!

Graduate students, along with their families and IOE faculty and staff, celebrated at a graduate student banquet on April 4, 2016 at the Michigan Union.

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Undergraduate students and their families came to the IOE Building on April 29, 2016 to celebrate graduation with IOE faculty and staff.

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Congratulations to all!

Message from the Chair

Mark DaskinWelcome to another issue of IOE News, our newsletter for alumni and friends of the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering. As we head into summer, I’m excited to share so much exciting news with you!

First and foremost, I want to say how proud we are of our graduating students. I look forward to seeing their accomplishments in years to come. And, of course, I’m also looking forward to welcoming a new group of equally bright and impressive students in September.

Three of our PhD students were recently recognized by the National Science Foundation Fellowship program and you can read about even more student and alumni accomplishments in our Student and Alumni Updates section.

Speaking of alumni, I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Alex Riley and his company MeritHall. Alex is an alum with an interesting story to share and plenty of good advice for current students.

The Regents recently approved tenure and promotion to associate professor for Mariel Lavieri and promotion to full professor for Brian Denton. In addition, they named Wally Hopp a Distinguished University Professor. You can read about those and many more recognitions and accomplishments in our Facutly & Staff Updates.

You’ll also have a chance to read about lecturer Debra Levantrosser’s vegan food truck and how she utilizes real life experience in her courses. In addition, you’ll find first-hand accounts from some of Debra’s students about two of the industry guest lecturers that visited their courses.

Of course, so many of the accomplishments detailed in this newsletter wouldn’t be possible without support from the many alumni and friends of the IOE Department. I give my sincere thanks to all of our donors.

We’re always eager to highlight alumni news in this newsletter and on our website. If you have news of achievements and awards that we can share with the IOE community or would like to be featured in the Alumni Spotlight, please contact us at

In the spirit of keeping in touch, I’d like to remind you that IOE has a Twitter account, @UMIOE, which you can follow for the most recent news and updates.

I have enjoyed meeting many of you in the past years. Whenever you are on campus, our doors are always open to you. Please drop by to introduce yourself or catch up.

Go Blue!

Mark S. Daskin

Alumni Spotlight: Alex Riley, Finding Success on a Unique Path

Alex Riley describes his career path as “unique.” During his time at The University of Michigan, he spent his summers working for his parents’ grocery store, The Chelsea Market, as well as a demolition company owned by a high school friend. This meant he never had a traditional college internship acquiring work experience in the fields typical of his IOE and Mathematical Sciences majors.

“Many people would consider this a recipe for failure, but looking back this was one of the best decisions I ever made,” he says. “Solving everyday business problems with limited resources reinforced my ability to be creative and resourceful.  I learned what it was like to run my own business, and I developed a further respect for entrepreneurs.”

alex rileyHe and Patrick Beal, the friend he worked demolition with, were constantly dreaming up business ideas. In June 2010, they had an idea that would change and grow to become the MeritHall that exists today. Eventually, Alex recruited Paul Kaser, an Economics and German major from U of M, to help.

“Patrick and I had been working on a project in Detroit where we needed to find skilled labor.  After pursuing several avenues with no success, we realized that contractors needed a better way to connect with workers.  Our idea was to create a web-based platform (a hybrid of LinkedIn and Angie’s List) where contractors could find and hire screened workers that possessed the necessary skills to complete their projects,” Alex explains.

MeritHall started its first staffing project in Atlanta, Georgia during Alex’s senior year spring break. The group recruited, screened, and sourced employees for the demolition of a large hotel.  Paul and Alex returned to Michigan to run the business from afar while Patrick managed the labor back in Atlanta.  The Tuesday after Alex graduated from U of M, he and Paul opened the first MeritHall office in downtown Detroit. At that point, MeritHall took a different turn than originally planned but Alex and the rest of the group found a way to make it work.

“To this day we never finished developing our web-based network of contractors and construction workers like we originally intended,” he says. “This was my first failure as an entrepreneur.  We kept pushing forward with the business that we had evolved into: a staffing company.  We did everything we could to survive.  We decided to let our clients and our environment dictate what kind of company we would become.”

MeritHall today isn’t what he planned at the start but it is a success story. They began staffing general labor and skilled trades in construction.  In 2012, MeritHall expanded into landscaping and snow removal staffing.  In winter of 2014, they launched their materials division, helping their snow contractors acquire competitively priced bulk salt.  In 2015 they launched a consulting division.

In 2015, MeritHall was included on the INC 500, a list of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, and also appeared in Entrepreneur 360, a list of the Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America.  The organization was also invited to the Youth Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization of successful entrepreneurs under 40. Alex himself was recognized as 2015 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Michigan District Office of the Small Business Administration.

“This award provides validation to the last four years and it serves as a testament to the strength of our team,” he says. “MeritHall would not be where it is today without the efforts of our team.”

Alex says his favorite memory was meeting his wife Sarah Barjum (U of M ‘10), the night before the Michigan v Ohio State football game in 2007.  The two were married in Honduras in September of 2015. His classes and professors in IOE were also memorable.

“My two favorite instructors of all-time are Amy Cohn and Katta Murty.  I developed a passion for Operations Research in Professor Cohn’s IOE 310 class.  Professor Murty pushed me to never give up on myself. I fell behind in IOE 612 due to a series of illnesses my senior year.  Professor Murty never gave up on me and I ultimately managed to get caught up.  612 ended up being my favorite class I ever took at U of M,” he remembers.

Alex appreciates the broad career possibilities available to IOE majors and says his IOE education allows him to assess opportunities from a different perspective, giving him an advantage in his business. He encourages current IOE students to pursue a multi-disciplinary approach to their education. He also has some advice based on his own experience.

To current IOE students he’d like to say, “It’s okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes.  As a U of M student – especially an engineering student – you’re under constant pressure to perform both academically and socially.  At the end of the day, always remember that there are a lot of things that aren’t under your control, and you’ll likely face some kind of adversity throughout your time here.  It doesn’t matter if you fail, what matters is how you respond.”

IOE Students Recognized by National Science Foundation

Three IOE students were recognized by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship program. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and in STEM education.

Lauren Steimle

Lauren Steimle

Lauren Steimle

IOE PhD student Lauren Steimle has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Lauren is advised by Professor Brian Denton. She was one of four awardees for the fellowship in the field of Industrial Engineering.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” Lauren said. “I am so thankful for the support I have received here at Michigan and from my undergraduate institution, Washington University in St. Louis, which allowed me to put together a strong application. With the support from the NSF Fellowship, I plan to investigate optimization methods for improving medical decision making for patients with multiple chronic conditions.”

The title of Lauren’s proposed project is “Stochastic Optimization Methods for Care Coordination of Chronic Conditions.” It is estimated that more than 25% of American adults have multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) and about two-thirds of national healthcare expenditures are spent on these patients. Despite this large and growing problem facing U.S. healthcare, chronic conditions are treated independently when they could be better treated in conjunction with each other. The goal of this proposal is to create an engineering framework for holistic treatment planning and to design incentive structures for the management of MCCs to improve health and reduce costs.

The fellowship provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM and STEM education.

Wesley Marrero Colon and Emily Tucker

Wesley Marrero Colon

Wesley Marrero Colon

IOE PhD students Wesley Marrero Colon and Emily Tucker have received an honorable mention from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program. Wesley is advised by Professor Mariel Lavieri. Emily is advised by Professor Mark Daskin. They are two of eleven applicants for the fellowship who received an honorable mention in the field of Industrial Engineering.

Wesley’s proposed project was titled “Optimal Ranges for Personalized Treatment Planning.” Chronic conditions are among the leading causes of the death in the U.S. Despite the many models developed to obtain optimal treatment protocols for patients suffering from such conditions, translating these protocols into practice is difficult. It is therefore important to consider practical implications in the design of such protocols. One way practical implications can be considered is by providing clinicians flexibility in the implementation of the protocols created, while continuing to improve patient outcomes. Moreover, to benefit from the clinician’s judgement, a proposed strategy is to design treatment target ranges that are personalized to each patient’s disease progression.

Emily Tucker

Emily Tucker

Emily’s proposed project is “Reducing the Offshoring of Clinical Trials by Optimizing Trial Site Selection.” Clinical trials are increasingly being offshored to lower cost sites overseas which limits the applicability of the results to the US population. This research will focus on developing a set of resource allocation models to determine the optimal number of domestic and international trial sites under uncertainty in patient enrollment to control the offshoring of trials while managing limited resources. This work will be conducted in collaboration with a physician from UMHS, and other research questions will include when to close poorly performing sites in favor of activating others and where to locate sites within the US to maximize a measure of diversity.

IOE Lecturer Serving Up Delicious Award Winning Vegan Food

IOE Lecturer Debra Levantrosser is making the world a more delicious and healthy place with her vegan food truck, Shimmy Shack. Debra, who has taught IOE 201, 421 and 425, has been running Shimmy Shack for three years now. In that time, it’s been featured on several local news stations, blogs, newspapers, magazines and in 2015 was named one of PETA’s top ten food trucks in the country.

Debra Levantrosser

Debra Levantrosser

Debra’s interest in lean started early. She says she was raised in a lean household where her parents used the principles and her father used them at work.  It was a natural fit for her once she began working in college and after graduation. Throughout her career she’s worked as the Executive Director of Lean Thinking & also the Supply Chain Change Leader for Johnson & Johnson, Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Executive Director of Lean and Business Strategy at Exide Technologies. Shimmy Shack was the perfect place for her love of vegan food and her knowledge of lean to mesh.

“I have been vegan for 26 years and knew that one day I would open a vegan restaurant,” she says. “The idea for a food truck was raised by a colleague and I recognized it as a less expensive way to enter the market and a much more lean way – – – lean is all about the customers so what could be more lean than going to the customers rather than having the customers come to you!”

Debra says the year prior to opening was spent planning and completing tasks like designing the menu, designing the truck, naming the business and creating the logo (“Shimmy” is the blonde on the side of the truck).  The first year in operation was focused on learning the business. She had been a waitress and owned a catering business in college over 25 years ago but that was the extent of her food service experience. Year two was all about strengthening the business and increasing brand recognition. This year it’s about having a social media strategy and launching their cookies in stores.

She has big plans for Shimmy’s future too. “Shimmy Shack will be the first franchised food truck in the country. Shimmy’s face will be the seal of veganism on vegan products,” she says.

Debra also has a consulting firm, Arbed Solutions, which does work ranging from training to strategic planning to facilitating leadership teams to implementing lean. She says her work experience can be a helpful tool in the IOE classroom.

“I regularly use examples from my experience in corporate America, my consulting work and Shimmy Shack in the classroom,” she explains. “It’s always different, never the same in two classes depending on where discussions take us. I may talk about the work I am doing at creating dashboards/scorecards at a client and I may talk about the importance of standard work on the truck. I think (at least I hope!) the real life experiences enhance the classroom learning.”

Her work is extremely rewarding according to Debra, “I am impacting the world in a positive way. For the consulting work, I am helping provide direction to companies and helping to identify areas for improvement. At Shimmy Shack, it is my small way of reducing the horrific nature of factory farming and showing people how tasty and shimmy-licious vegan food can be!”

For students looking to a future in entrepreneurship, she has this advice, “If you decide to be an entrepreneur, no one will love your business as much as you do so don’t expect anyone to. If you decide to work for an entrepreneur, be ready to wear different hats and be interested in jumping in to make the coffee one day and create a strategic plan the next.”

More information about Shimmy Shack is available at

IOE Students Learn from Industry Guest Lecturers

Students in Debra Levantrosser’s IOE 421 and 425 classes are able to benefit from the experience of guest lecturers from industry. Below are student accounts of guest lectures from the 2015-2016 academic year.

Ronia Kruse

This account of Ronia Kruse’s visit was written by IOE News guest writers, David Taylor and Caroline Hawath.

David Taylor, an IOE senior at the time he took IOE 421, graduated this spring with his Bachelor’s in IOE. He is a Michigan native who enjoys spending time on the water, playing sports, and volunteering in the community. As a student, he was active in MECC consulting group, HFES, and Greek Life.

Caroline Hawath was also a senior when she took IOE 421 and graduated this spring. Caroline, an international student from France, served on the executive board for the Michigan International Student Society.

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The Industrial and Operations Engineering 421 (Work Organizations Theory) class had the opportunity to hear from one of the most well-known and respected names in the business world Ronia Kruse; she visited the University of Michigan on November 18, 2015 as a guest speaker. Ronia is a long time friend and colleague of Debra Levantrosser, the instructor for the class, and was able to visit Ann Arbor to share some of her experiences and advice with up-and-coming Michigan engineers. The class has a diverse enrollment, with students being from as far away as France and some completing an undergraduate degree whereas others are masters students. Ronia’s perspectives and experiences gave all of us a unique and impactful perspective on our own lives.

424 ronia 2Ronia’s background is in finance, which was her area of study in school and the industry in which she worked upon graduation, but her experience to date has expanded far beyond the world of finance.After Ronia’s work in the financial sector, where she worked with companies and universities alike, she made the jump to become an entrepreneur. In 1999 Ronia and her brother started Optech, a talent management and professional services company. Today Optech is at the forefront of the industry and is regarded as one of the most attractive companies to work for by multiple benchmarks. Recently, Optech has received awards and recognition for their excellence in employee and customer satisfaction along with receiving an award for being one of the fastest growing companies in the private sector. Ronia’s decision to move into the entrepreneurship field was one that we, as students or professionals alike, can appreciate and learn from. Ronia’s commitment towards family and resolve towards improving the lives of not only the people around her but anyone she could affect on any scale should be a mentality that we should all maintain. One of the key pieces of advice that Ronia offered as she finished her presentation was simple, yet ground-breaking, “No business was ever started by one person”. This was a very impactful message in that it touches on teamwork, friendship, accountability, and success.

Though you could fill a novel with all of Ronia’s awards and recognitions, such as the National Association of Women Business Owners – Top 10 Women in Business, and the Kaleidoscope of Culture Foundation – Kaleidoscope of Culture Award, to name a few, it was her commitment towards friends, family, and the betterment of her community that was the most impressive part of her message.

Dan Vermeesch

This account of Dan Vermeesch’s visit was written by IOE News guest writers, Julia Irwin and Catherine West.

Julia Irwin was an IOE junior at the time she took 425. Her hometown is Grosse Ile, Michigan and she has worked as a student intern in the MEP group at DTE Energy and served as Scholarship Chair for Phi Sigma Rho Sorority, a sorority for women in engineering.

Catherine West, who hails from Dewitt, Michigan, was a senior in IOE at the time she took 425. She has worked at Faurecia as an injection molding intern and loves spending time with her pets while watching Netflix.

424 dave v (2)The Industrial and Operations and Engineering 425 Class, Lean Manufacturing Engineering, was honored to have Dan Vermeesch as a guest speak on February 1, 2016. Dan is a member of the Precision Machined Products Association’s Technical Programming Committee and the Management Update Committee. He’s given speeches across the United States and gives frequent tours of Micron Manufacturing where he is Plant Manager.

Dan’s career started at Michigan Tech University, where he pursued electrical engineering. From there he spent the next five years gaining experience in that field. However, Dan’s passion was not electronics. He spent the years after graduating trying to figure out where he would fit in and eventually found his place at Micron Manufacturing as a plant manager.

424 Dave VDan’s interest in lean manufacturing started from witnessing the birth of his first child. His wife spent hours in labor waiting for the baby to come, but after the doctors noticed a problem with the baby, they immediately rushed his wife to the ER for an emergency C-section. In just minutes, his baby girl was born. What struck him about this situation was how efficiently it was handled. As soon as the doctor said to prep the ER room, everyone knew exactly what to do. Everything was prepped and set in place so the operation would go as smoothly as possible.

Dan soon applied this same logic when Micron Manufacturing decided to start the lean process. The first step for them was to work with their employees, having them check their egos at the door and learning to think about what they can do for the company, rather than thinking about what the company can do for them. By changing the way the employees thought about the company and their coworkers, Micron was already on the road to change.

Micron now has many TOP 5 huddles, weekly team meetings, and monthly Key Performance Index meetings just to keep everyone up to date with current events and what’s happening within the company. In 2008, these changes lead to Micron Manufacturing getting the Shingo Silver Medallion for Operational Excellence, which was only awarded to 19 companies.

Micron Manufacturing continues to learn, teach, and grow on a daily basis. Although the company is thriving, there is always room to improve. As we learned in 425, continuously improving is a key principle of lean. There will always be problems in any process, but if we continue to identify problems and work to solve them we will always improve. When Dan first started at Micron, things were chaotic and weren’t functioning as efficiently as they could. Bringing lean culture into Micron created a whole new atmosphere and things were running better than ever. Lean culture can be implemented anywhere and with the right tools can help bring any company to a better place than they were before.

Thank you Donors!

These friends of the IOE Department gave gifts in 2015. We truly appreciate your support!

Andrew S. Crawford Fund for Entrepreneurship Excellence
Matthew T. Chittle
Barbara S. Osborn
Todd A. Webb

Carlos and Clara Quintanilla Endowed Scholarship
Carlos R. Quintanilla

Clyde Johnson Fellowship Fund
Douglas J. Beck
William R. Beem
Lee E. Benz
Edwin H. Brust
Don B. and Barbara A. Chaffin
Mark S. Daskin
David M. Giancola
Steven P. Gray
James E. Hosking
Chittaranjan Jain
Richard C. Jelinek
Clyde and Nadra Johnson
Linda Johnson
Narhyn Johnson
Thelma B. Johnson
Donald L. Keefer
Paul Lansky
Edward E. Mack
Marilyn J. Maddox
John W. McBeath
James M. Miller
Richard C. Wilson Trust
Robert I. Heller Charitable Gift Fund
Jackie L. Rogoff
Frederick J. Schanne
Wayne H. Smith
James J. Solberg
Robert R. Sommer
Mathew W. Steiner
Roger N. Turner
Sheryl S. Ulin
John R. Vogt
Joachim Wudtke

Clyde W. Johnson Scholarship Fund
Anonymous Donor
William R. Beem
Lee E. Benz
Sonny S. Bloom
David C. Burnett
Philip Chang
Allen J. Cooke
Edward V. Dolikian
John P. Duker
Randolph A. Eason
George S. Fead
Charlene A. Felgner
Thomas E. Grimshaw
Michael R. Hamme
David A. Hansz
Geoffrey M. Holczer
Jon R. and Beverly S. Holt
John M. Jabe
Frank R. Jarc
Thelma B. Johnson
Jerome K. LaFountain
Gretchen A. Langslet
William E. McAlester
Michael & Eleanor Pinkert Foundation
James M. Miller
Delores R. Milton
Bill and Jan Oddy
Colleen W. Platt
Prime Housing Group
John W. Puffer
Robert W. Denner
Ruby E. Phillips Trust
Robert R. Scherba
John G. Schuler
John H. Shuey
Ned J. Simpson
Barbara J. Smith
Irene K. Smith
Sara A. Sprague
Allen L. Stevens
Edward A. Stokel
Byron M. Stuck
Martin I. Washington
Terry D. Yax
Martin I. Yonas

The Center for Healthcare Engineering & Patient Safety
Sarah M. Bach
Matthew Rouhana
Seth Bonder Foundation

Henrique Chang Scholarship Fund
Henrique Chang

Industrial & Operations Engineering Fellowship Fund
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Carter J. Kerk Consultant in Ergonomics & Safety
Lisa Davis
ExxonMobil Foundation
Joseph H. Goldberg
Wallace J. Hopp
Majid Jaridi
Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies
Michael A. Kahn
Michael Moore
Shamkant B. Navathe
Pfizer Foundation
Robert G. Radwin
Charles H. Rosa
Shiaw Y. Su
Sheryl S. Ulin
Sarah K. Womack

Industrial & Operations Engineering Scholarship Fund
Rebecca C. Branson
William J. Buer
David A. Cohen
Megan C. DeFauw
Barbara K. Harris
Craig J. Isakow
Daniel I. Manes
Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.
Russell D. Meller
David C. Miller
Brittany N. Morales
The Procter & Gamble Company
Pulte Group, Inc.
Lisa B. Schurgin
Scott A. Williams

Industrial & Operations Engineering Special Gift Fund
Jeffrey M. Alden
William R. Barr
Gerard A. Brosnan
Hyung In Chun
Lisa A. Clark
Joan M. Dorow
Christopher G. Doughty
ExxonMobil Foundation
Michael C. Fee
Jill E. Feldman
Fidelity Foundation
Monica J. Fox
Joseph E. Gelber
Michael A. Grossman
Robert W. Haessler
Gayle K. Haller
Craig W. Hamilton
Cecil A. Harrah
Donald J. Holtz
John T. Illikman
Donald J. Kunz
Bernard K. Lee
Richard E. Lopez
Allison A. Martin
Richard J. Martin
James M. Miller
Michael Moore
Roy A. More
The Procter & Gamble Company
Rajeev A. Parlikar
Steve S. Psarakis
Carlos A. Quintanilla
Robert J. Schoenhals
Slayton Family Fund
Ruth L. Stoeffler
Chandra Varatharajan
Bob Waldvogel
Karen C. Waldvogel
Christopher M. Wu
Jim S. Yee

IOE PhD Alumni Fund
Carol A. DiMarco
ExxonMobil Foundation
Michael Moore
John A. Muckstadt
Robert G. Sargent
Marlin U. Thomas

Jeff Mason Scholarship Fund
Millicent N. Mason

Joel & Lorraine Brown Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award Fund
Joel and Lorraine Brown Charitable Gift Fund

Jon R. and Beverly S. Holt Award
Jon R. and Beverly S. Holt

Katta Murty Optimization Prize Fund
Vijaya S. Katta

Mark A. Van Sumeren Endowed Scholarship Fund
Mark A. Van Sumeren

Marlin U. and Susan K. Thomas Fund
Marlin U. Thomas

Michael Goldberg IOE Scholarship
Joseph Goldberg

Molloy Family Scholarship
James M. Molloy

Richard C. Wilson Faculty Scholar Award Fund
Trehan Foundation

Seth Bonder Endowment Fund
Seth Bonder Foundation

Susan Horvath Ferreira and John Stephen Horvath Scholarship Fund
Dr. Rebecca S. Horvath

Thom J. and Grace P. Hodgson Family Fund
Thom J. Hodgson and Grace P. Hodgson

Timothy P. Gerios Endowed Scholarship Fund
Timothy P. Gerios

Walton M. Hancock Scholarship
Walt and Charlene Hancock

Student & Alumni Updates

Danielle Adamo was awarded the Fall 2015 Andrew S. Crawford Award for Entrepreneurship Excellence for her work in IOE 422. Her project was called Swapster. Swapster is a direct trade e-commerce site that is aimed to become the hub for buying and selling used phones. The targeted audience for Swapster is individuals who break their phone, and have less than six months until their next cell phone upgrade with their network carriers, and want a cheap, temporary phone replacement in the meantime. Current options for phone replacements are too expensive, which leads many people to continue to use their broken phones when alternatively, they could simply go on, filter by price they’re willing to pay or device they’re looking for, and purchase a temporary used phone.

Scott Agnew was awarded the Winter 2016 Andrew S. Crawford Award for Entrepreneurship Excellence for his work in IOE 422. Scott’s project was called ChiroPress. ChiroPress is a simple piece of equipment any individual can use to relieve his or her back pain at home. It is a compact device the user operates while laying on a bed or floor, and makes use of rolling and massage actions to align the user’s spine, thus relieving their back pain.

Maya Bam

Maya Bam

IOE PhD student Maya Bam won the SAS and INFORMS Analytics Section Student Analytical Scholar competition for 2016. The purpose of the competition is to practice the process of structuring and presenting a compelling proposal for analytical work. Applicants will be asked to produce a document, known as a “Statement of Work” (SOW), for a case study based on a real-life project. Such documents are usually created early in a project, after some exploratory work, but may or may not fully define the problem. This competitive program recognizes one outstanding student who would like to learn more about the practice of analytics at this annual conference by covering the costs of attending the event and additional networking opportunities.

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Youngjun Choe

IOE PhD student Youngjun Choe and PhD alum Weihong (Grace) Guo (now at Rutgers University as an Assistant Professor) along with IOE professors Eunshin Byon and Judy Jin have been awarded the 2016 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE, formerly IIE) Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference (ISERC) Best Paper Award in the Energy Systems Track.  Their winning paper is titled “Change-point Detection in Solar Panel Degradation Analysis.” The performance degradation or the energy output loss over time, of solar panel array is a major concern to solar energy stakeholders. In the paper, a nonparametric detection method is proposed to retrospectively identify the time points of abrupt power changes. The superiority of the proposed method over other detection methods is demonstrated using both the simulated and real world data. The proposed method will help solar energy stakeholders in several aspects including warranty underwriting, preventive maintenance planning, and financial analysis.

Gian-Gabriel Garcia

Gian-Gabriel Garcia

IOE PhD student Gian-Gabriel Garcia received honorable mention for his Ford Foundation Fellowship application. Through its Fellowship Programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Awards are made for study in research-based PhD or ScD programs; practice oriented degree programs are not eligible for support. In addition to the fellowship award, Ford Fellows are eligible to attend the Conference of Ford Fellows, a unique national conference of a select group of high-achieving scholars committed to diversifying the professoriate and using diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

IOE alum Jane Gietzen (BSE IOE 1983) was named one of The 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Jane is Director of Information Services at Spectrum Health and says she’s most proud of overseeing an internship program of more than 40 paid interns from colleges throughout the state.

IOE PhD candidate Kayse Maass is featured in INFORMS Connect’s “What’s Your StORy?” In the column, Kara Tucker, Production Editor/Marketing Content Specialist for INFORMS, asks Kayse a variety of questions about her education, her interest in OR, and her experience with INFORMS. Of her time as president of the University of Michigan INFORMS chapter, Kayse says, “This year we have been intentional about providing students with opportunities to network with industry professionals and academic researchers, increasing undergraduate and master’s student involvement in the chapter, and developing a cohesive student community. I am particularly excited about the new PhD Mentoring program we started, in which all first year PhD students meet one-on-one with a senior PhD student on a regular basis to help with the transition to life as a PhD student. We have received very positive feedback thus far from everyone involved and we hope to make it even better next year!”

Selin Merdan is the 2016 recipient of The Seth Bonder Fellowship. The one year Seth Bonder Fellowship is awarded on a competitive basis to a superior IOE graduate student who wishes to study and do research in the field of applied operations research.

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Paige Mollison

Paige Mollison, an undergraduate IOE student working with the Center for Healthcare Engineering & Patient Safety (CHEPS), was the Undergraduate Student Award Winner at the Society of Health Systems’ (SHS) 2016 Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference. The award recognized her poster titled “Scheduling Healthcare Providers Using Optimization.” The research presented on the poster was in collaboration with William Pozehl, Amy Cohn, Stephen Gorga, and Janice Davis. Awards for posters are judged on the level of impact of the project, the presentation of the content on the poster itself, and the ability to convey the story represented on the poster while speaking with the judges and other attendees.

The Molloy Family has established the Molloy Family Scholarship Fund to provide need-based support for full-time CoE undergraduates, with a preference for IOE students. This endowment gift qualifies for the University’s Michigan Matching Initiative for Student Support. Mr. James Molloy is an alum of the IOE Department (BSE IOE ’90) and is an incoming member of the Industrial and Operations Engineering Advisory Board.

IOE graduate student Rama Mwenesi was has been recognized with the Michigan Student Life Graduate Student of the Year which is awarded to graduate students who have excelled in the areas of academic achievement, student leadership and service. He was also named Michigan Student Life World Leader, an honor given to a student or student led initiatives that demonstrated leadership in achieving the international mission of the University of Michigan through promotion of international involvement and understanding that is demonstrated by having an impact on communities abroad by advancing institutional goals abroad. You can read more about Rama in the Michigan Daily article “Student of the Year: Rama Mwenesi.”

IOE PhD student Brandon Pitts is featured in a Rackham Graduate School Student Spotlight.

IOE PhD student Yuhui Shi was awarded the 2016 Wilson Prize for his paper titled “Scheduling Crash Tests at Ford Motor Company.” The paper considers the problem of scheduling crash tests for new vehicle programs at Ford. It describes the development of a comprehensive web-based system that automates time-consuming scheduling analyses through mathematical optimization, while also institutionalizing expert knowledge about the engineering complexities of crash testing. The authors present a novel integer programming model and a corresponding solution algorithm that quickly generates efficient schedules. The system’s user interface enables engineers to specify key program data and consider multiple scheduling scenarios, while using the underlying optimization model and solution algorithms as a black box.

Katta Murty and Emily Speakman

Katta Murty and Emily Speakman

PhD student Emily Speakman was named the Joel and Lorrainne Brown 2016 GSI of the Year by the  Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society.

Emily Speakman was also awarded the 2016 Murty Prize for her paper titled “Quantifying Double McCormick.” When using the standard McCormick inequalities twice to convexify trilinear monomials, as is often the practice in modeling and software, there is a choice of which variables to group first. For the important case in which the domain is a nonnegative box, the authors calculate the volume of the resulting relaxation, as a function of the bounds defining the box. In this manner, the authors precisely quantify the strength of the di fferent possible relaxations defined by all three groupings, in addition to the trilinear hull itself. As a by product, they characterize the best double McCormick relaxation. A committee reviews papers nominated for the annual award, formally known as the Katta Murty Prize for Best Research Paper on Optimization by an IOE Student. Emily is advised by Jon Lee.

Several IOE students received Engineering Leaders and Honors awards from the College of Engineering. The awardees from IOE were:

  • Elizabeth Ettleson: Distinguished Leadership Award – Undergraduate Students
  • Jonathon McCormick: Distinguished Leadership Award – Undergraduate Students
  • Jai Sura:  Distinguished Leadership Award – Undergraduate Students
  • Michael Bruk: Arlen R. Hellwarth Award
  • Jai Sura: Distinguished Achievement Award
  • Kayse Maass: Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Prize For Distinguished Academic Achievement
  • Kayse Maass: Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Prize For Outstanding PhD Research

Faculty & Staff Updates

rod capps award

Rod Capps

IOE Web Developer Rod Capps was recognized with a 2016 Engineering Excellence in Staff Service Award at a College of Engineering ceremony on May 6, 2016. Over the past year, Rod has helped lead the IOE Department through the process of developing a new website in coordination with the College’s Media & Marketing group. He also routinely lends staff, students, and faculty his expertise in web development and databases. The Excellence in Staff Service Awards program was established as part of a comprehensive initiative to recognize the vital contributions that staff make to the College’s success and prominence as one of the nation’s premier engineering institutions. Recipients of the Excellence in Staff Service Awards are chosen on the basis of their exemplary work or special achievements. Each year, the College’s objective is to identify individual award recipients and a team or work group winner.

Professor Amy Cohn was named 2016 Professor of the Year by the  Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society.

The University of Michigan Regents have approved promotion to full professor for Brian Denton.

Professor Brian Denton has been selected for the IOE Department Merit Award for the 2015-2016 academic year. The award is to recognize a high impact accomplishment in research, teaching or service benefiting the Department and the College.


Seth Guikema

Seth Guikema recently delivered a lecture on demand for MConnex. The lecture, titled “Leveraging disparate data sources to study the influences of climate variability and change on natural and engineered systems,” is available to watch online.

A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of rising carbon dioxide in the ocean, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University has found. The work began as a class project in a course taught by Seth Guikema, who is an associate professor in the IOE Department. More information is available in the article “Rapid plankton growth in ocean seen as sign of carbon dioxide loading.”

The University of Michigan Regents have appointed Wallace Hopp as a Distinguished University Professor, one of the University’s top honors. Distinguished University Professorships, established in 1947, recognize full professors for exceptional scholarly or creative achievement, national and international reputation, and superior teaching skills. Each professorship bears a name determined by the appointive professor in consultation with her or his dean. Hopp’s title is C.K. Prahalad Distinguished University Professor of Business and Engineering.

Dr. Wallace Hopp is also quoted in two articles about how wage hikes effect business at Wal-Mart, “Minimum Wage Hikes Aren’t All Bad News for Wal-Mart” in Bloomberg and “Why wage hikes are actually good news for Wal-Mart” in The Christian Science Monitor.

Richard Hughes, PhD, has been elected a Fellow of the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB). In 2011, ASB created the status of Fellow to recognize professional achievement and service of the top members of the Society and to encourage continued service to the Society in a leadership role. Dr. Hughes has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers on biomechanics and has been President of the ASB.


Mariel Lavieri

The University of Michigan Regents have approved tenure and promotion to associate professor for Mariel Lavieri.

Professor Mariel Lavieri has also received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for her project “A Unified Methodology for Optimizing the Management of Chronic Diseases.” The objective is to create new methodology that enables the integration of operational and disease management decisions for patients with chronic diseases. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the NSF’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Research of IOE Professors Mariel Lavieri and Mark Van Oyen in conjunction with Dr. Joshua Stein, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, was highlighted as one of the top technologies to watch at Glaucoma 2015 during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Their work is on a novel glaucoma monitoring system being developed to guide providers in establishing personalized monitoring schedules that would help them avoid missing significant progression in glaucoma suspects or patients with open-angle glaucoma. The brief is available at Ophthalmology Times.

The Shingo Institute, part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, has awarded Jeffrey K. Liker, PhD, with the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award for his book, “Developing Lean Leaders at all Levels: A Practical Guide.” In addition to being a professor in IOE, Liker is president of Liker Lean Advisors, LLC – a collection of top-notch lean advisors. He is an international best-selling author and recipient of 11 Shingo Research Awards. Trachilis, president and CEO at Lean Leadership Institute Inc., is a partner with Dr. Liker and a contributor to this book. Receipt of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award signifies an author’s significant contribution to advancing the body of knowledge regarding enterprise excellence.

IOE Professor Emeritus Katta Murty has been selected for a J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship to Saudi Arabia. He will be working with researchers in ARAMCO and KFUPM (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals) in Saudi Arabia on applications of optimum decision making techniques in crude oil refineries.


Pascal Van Hentenryck

Pascal Van Hentenryck was recognized as the Seth Bonder Collegiate Professor of Engineering at a lecture and ceremony held on Monday, April 11, 2016 in the Johnson Rooms of Lurie Engineering Center.  He delivered a lecture titled, “Analytics and Engineering: Challenges and Opportunities.” More information about Pascal and about Seth Bonder is available in the news story “Pascal Van Hentenryck to be recognized as Seth Bonder Collegiate Professor of Engineering.”

With a new $1.4 million grant, University of Michigan researchers led by Pascal Van Hentenryck, the Seth Bonder Collegiate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at The University of Michigan will lead an effort to model a year in the life of a power grid, creating the most detailed, adaptable power grid simulation ever made. Read more in the article “Smart grid: $1.4M to model a year in the life of a power grid.”

Marina Epelman was named the INFORMS Graduate Course Professor of the Year. Brian Denton and Nadine Sarter received honorable mentions.

A research team, led by IOE professor Romesh Saigal and including IOE student Qi Luo, recently conducted a preliminary test on The University of Michigan’s North Campus, circling a parking lot in a radar sensor-equipped test vehicle to capture data. The system they were testing would use radar sensors that are already built into many vehicles to create a crowd-sourced, real-time map of parking availability. More information is available in the article, “No more hunting for parking? Proposed app could do it for you.”