Archive for the “Guest Blogger” Category
I came to UT Arlington to pursue my master’s in August 2007 in Industrial Engineering. I was a life-long student having never worked in the industry, so it was not a very big jump to go from B.Tech to a master’s and then on to a Ph.D. which I completed in December 2013. The operations research courses attracted me the most in my master’s, especially the ones taught by Dr. Corley, Dr. Rosenberger, and Dr. Chen. Even though I made some B’s, I had a lot of fun learning some amazing mathematics and statistics.
As a part of my master’s, I undertook research projects under Dr. Jay Rosenberger which gave me my first exposure to Ph.D. level research. The projects were done by previous students in the Center On Stochastic Modeling, Optimization, & Statistics (COSMOS) . My first impression of joining the COSMOS lab was when I peeked through the door and found that Spock from Star Trek was looking straight at me, disapprovingly. I started smiling when I realized it was only a life-sized replica. I was relieved to see that even though I was jumping into some serious research, there was still an element of humor to lighten the somber mood of the lab. Even though, quite frustratingly, when my own lack of knowledge and ignorance was brought into sharp focus, I looked at those times as a great learning opportunity. I worked on a nurse optimization project which was entering the testing stage at HEB hospital. After my master’s, I joined the Ph.D. program as a natural extension to my research work. Around that time, Dr. Anjomani came to Dr. Rosenberger for optimization of urban planning. The problem was to choose which would be the best land use to assign any given land piece. Each land piece would be given a certain rating regarding various land uses, e.g., high residential, low industrial, open areas, etc. It was a simple assignment optimization problem. We tried to use the methodology that was used for nurse optimization for urban planning optimization, but we hit a block which did not allow us to make any progress due to symmetry issues.
Given that we recognized we would not be able to make progress in the research in the direction we were headed, we decided to switch directions. I extended the simple land use optimization problems with more constraints by taking into account urban sprawl. After literature review, I recognized that urban sprawl had a lot of research towards solving it but there were not many comprehensive optimization models. So, the next step was to construct a mathematical model which would address all the various factors contributing towards urban sprawl. After the model was constructed, it was so large that CPLEX, an optimization software, would not even accept the model. It allowed us to experiment with Benders Decomposition method to reduce the model size and allow us to solve the model.
I also worked as a teaching assistant for the IMSE Department when I joined the master’s program. I sincerely enjoyed my time at UT Arlington since it gave me an opportunity to try a variety of things, e.g., salsa, yoga, aikido, etc.
I am currently working as a software engineer for E2open as their optimization specialist.
Written by Piyush Kumar, Ph.D. Industrial Engineering
IMSE Alumni 2013
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I am a Ph.D. candidate with a focus on Systems Engineering. I had always wanted to continue my education in the United States like my parents. The intellectually stimulating environment at UTA inspired me to think about continuing my studies in the field of Industrial Engineering, after gaining an undergraduate degree in Software Engineering. I received my M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from UTA and then decided to pursue a Ph.D. in the same field.
I have worked as a graduate research assistant on multiple projects at the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC). I am currently a graduate teaching assistant in the IMSE department. As a result, I have had the valuable opportunity to work with professors and aid students with their basic course work.
My dissertation research is related to addressing water sustainability in hospitals. Water is a valuable and limited resource and access to clean water is stated as one of the grand challenges in engineering according to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Hospitals are a major consumer of water. According to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA), health care institutions are consistently within the top 10 water users in their communities. Therefore, considering water sustainability in hospitals is important. Hospitals are large complex systems that consist of various elements and relationships between these elements. Systems engineering guides the engineering of complex systems and can be used to help address the multi-faceted and complex sustainability challenges. An objective of my research is to help hospitals better comprehend the effects and relationships between various factors related to water sustainability in hospitals. The research includes development of a system dynamics based simulator that will help individuals assess the key water sustainability factors and their relationships in hospitals.
I have truly enjoyed my experience here as a Ph.D. student and am honored and proud to be part of an outstanding program at UTA. I am planning to defend my dissertation this year.
Written by Misagh Faezipour, PhD Student with a Focus on Systems Engineering
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I am writing to share good news and request input for my upcoming NSF Workshop 3/16-3/21/2014.
The Directorate for Education and Human Resources has implemented a new program for “Improving Undergraduate STEM Education” (IUSE) through its Division of Undergraduate Education (EHR/DUE). An “Ideas Lab” is a new merit review strategy being used at the National Science Foundation to address grand challenges in STEM research and education. The Ideas Lab process is modeled on the “IDEAS Factory” program  http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/routes/network/ideas/Pages/experience.aspx developed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) of the United Kingdom. The Ideas Lab process starts with submission of a brief application to participate in the Ideas Lab, indicating a Principal Investigator’s interest in and preliminary ideas regarding the specific Ideas Lab topic. A diverse sub-set of participants from a range of disciplines and backgrounds will be selected from the submitted applications by NSF and will be brought together in an intensive, interactive and free-thinking environment, where participants immerse themselves in a collaborative dialog in order to construct bold and innovative approaches.
I have been selected to participate in the workshop below and would like your input. Please provide your answer to 1) Why did you choose engineering? 2) How can we get more folks (as described below) to choose engineering? What new strategies could be used????
Social inequality in engineering education and practice is a durable problem, one that has resisted perennial efforts to “broaden participation,” “increase diversity,” or “improve recruitment and retention of women, minorities, and people with disabilities.” While a great deal of previous and ongoing work has focused on fostering the ability of individuals to access and persist in the engineering education system, this Ideas Lab will focus on changing the system itself.
Ending inequality in engineering is crucial because it represents a direct and effective way to meet workforce needs; because members of marginalized groups should not be on the sidelines in shaping our infrastructure and technological future; because workforce diversity strengthens work product; and because increased participation in high paying, prestigious workforce sectors like engineering is itself a strategy for achieving greater equity.
Many prior efforts for inclusion have been hampered by a presumption that certain parameters can’t be changed (for example, eligibility criteria, narrow definitions of what counts in or as engineering, limited roles for 2-year institutions, or a four year degree model). This ends in disappointment and frustration when change is not achieved. A radical rethinking is needed to move forward.
In the Engineering Phase I Ideas Lab, engineers and social scientists will face head on the systems and structures that reproduce social inequality in engineering education and in the engineering workforce. A complete and direct discussion is not afraid to examine manifestations of racism, sexism, and ableism in engineering, and to also consider classism, heteronormativity, ageism, and obstacles faced by Veterans and other non-traditional groups. The Engineering Phase I Ideas Lab will generate new framings and new strategies to move the nation toward greater inclusion of marginalized groups in engineering.
Dr. Jamie Rogers, IMSE Faculty
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Some of you may remember Kaushik Gorahava from his time at UT Arlington as a student and a teaching assistant. Below is his reflection on his research and experience at UT Arlington:
I completed my Ph.D. from the Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering department at The University of Texas at Arlington in summer 2013. After having worked as an Industrial Engineer in India’s manufacturing industry for more than three years, I came to the USA in August 2007 to pursue further studies. I completed my M.S. in Industrial Engineering degree in 2009 and took many advanced Statistics, Optimization, and Mathematical Modeling courses in the Industrial Engineering and Mathematics department, respectively.
As a project in the Stochastic Processes course, I reviewed and analyzed a Stochastic Model for using Ring Vaccination for smallpox control. The project was well received in the class and motivated me to pursue further research at the interface of Systems Science and Epidemiology. Under the guidance of my mentors, I developed my broad research area, optimization in neglected public health issues, for my Ph.D. dissertation. In fall 2009, I started my Ph.D. in the Center On Stochastic, Modeling, Optimization, and Statistics (COSMOS) laboratory, under the guidance of Dr. Jay Rosenberger, an expert in Optimization. I was also mentored by my dissertation co-adviser, Dr. Anuj Mubayi, an applied mathematical scientist working at the intersection of epidemiology and social networks.
Being from India, a developing country, I had observed first-hand the suffering caused by disease and poverty. I noticed an urgent need for improvement in public health policies, especially the basic ones. I chose to work on improving one of the basic control measures for a neglected infectious disease, Leishmaniasis, which mostly affects poverty stricken communities and is the second deadliest vector-borne disease in the world. Leishmaniasis spreads to humans by the bite of an infected sandfly. Bihar’s Public Health Department has limited financial resources and can spray insecticide at a limited number of sites. My research aimed to address questions on optimal insecticide allocation for conducting a spray campaign. My dissertation research involved building and analyzing optimization models. The mathematical models were built by considering factors affecting disease transmission and metrics to help the Public Health Department make better decisions. The results of my dissertation study recommended an improved and long-lasting insecticide spray campaign policy for Bihar’s Public Health Department.
I also enjoyed training and teaching individuals, a set of skills which I acquired through my experience as a Teaching Assistant at the Industrial Engineering department during my doctoral studies. During my graduate studies, I mentored some undergraduate and master’s students. I am an independent researcher now and aim to work at the interface of System Dynamics Engineering and Medical Sciences.
Written by Dr. Kaushik Gorahava
Dr. Gorahava graduated in 2013 with a PhD in Industrial Engineering and currently works as a Systems Analyst for Horizon Technologies Inc.
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Another year and another semester are upon us. I made a New Year’s Resolution to drink more water. In order to drink more water I need to drink less Diet Coke. It’s day 9 of no Diet Coke and I haven’t died of dehydration, so I think that means I’m doing pretty well so far. I’d like to challenge all of our UTA Industrial Engineering undergraduate students to make a New Semester’s Resolution. Let’s call it “Get Involved in 2014!”
There are so many great opportunities for students to get involved in the department, at UTA, in the community and as industrial engineers. Our student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers is very active. They have monthly meetings, plant tours, social outings, a student lounge in Woolf Hall, intermural teams, a newsletter, and a Facebook page just off the top of my head. If you haven’t been active with IIE in the past, that’s an easy, fun, rewarding way to “Get Involved in 2014”.
If you want to challenge yourself even more think about taking advantage of one of the many extra opportunities that are available to IE undergraduate students. One example is the Values and Ventures competition being sponsored by TCU and open to undergraduate student teams from UTA. The competition involves building a business plan for “for-profit enterprises that impact society in meaningful ways.” I know a lot of you are interested in entrepreneurship and this would be a great way to gain some experience in that arena. You can find more information about the competition at the following website:
Texas A&M University is accepting applications for its 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Program. As part of the program, undergraduate students work closely with faculty members on current or individual research projects, attend development and GRE workshops, make a formal poster presentation of their research experience, and submit a final written report describing the results of their research. A $5,000 scholarship, tuition and fees, housing and travel expenses are provided. This is opportunity would be especially valuable for any student considering graduate school. You can find eligibility requirements and details can be found here: http://easa.tamu.edu/usrg.
There are also several opportunities to get involved with service learning in the IMSE department this coming semester. I have an immediate opportunity to work with Mission Arlington on improving operations in their healthcare clinic. I also have a very exciting upcoming project involving developing a healthcare app for older adults. These opportunities would allow you to put your IE skills to use in some service environments as well as allow you to serve your community.
These are just a few opportunities. There are many, many more announced every week. These types of activities allow you to improve your resume, network with professionals from around the world, gain valuable experience, and give back to the community. All while improving your IE skills. If you have any questions about any of the specific activities I’ve mentioned or want to learn how to make yourself aware of other opportunities feel free to contact me. UTA IE undergrads, I challenge you to “Get Involved in 2014.” If I can give up Diet Coke you can do anything!
Dr. Bonnie Boardman
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As this entry goes online, I will be in Minneapolis at the annual INFORMS conference presenting a paper entitled “A Cooperative Dual for the Nash Equilibrium.” The gist of this research is that people can often fare better in competitive situations if they cooperate. However, the more profound implication of the work is that complete cooperation is guaranteed to be possible only between two competitors, not three or more. In other words, there is a mathematical limit to complete cooperation. Apparently, three’s a crowd, like we all knew already. In addition, I will be attending the conference “Learning and the Brain” at Harvard in November. At the INFORMS conference, I will also be working on a Systems Engineering research proposal with Dr. Ferreira.
Dr. Rosenberger, a recent IMSE Ph.D. graduate, and I submitted in August a paper entitled “Constraint Optimal Selection Techniques (COSTs) for Nonnegative Linear Programming Problems” to Optimization Methods and Software about an approach to solve huge, currently unsolvable linear programming problems quickly, as demanded by today’s high-speed, high-tech, ever-accelerating world. Linear programming, as you may remember, is the most widely used computational model in the business and scientific worlds. The method was also the basis of a recently issued patent entitled “System, Method and Apparatus for Allocating Resources by Constraint Selection.”
Finally, I will be headed abroad over the winter break and stop thinking about all this heady stuff. Enjoy your semester.
Written by Dr. Bill Corley
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I am originally from Mexico; I earned my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering at the Instituto Tecnologico de Saltillo and worked in a plastic injection company as a Manufacturing and Project Engineer for over two years. My initial desire was to come to the United States to improve the language; however, in 2007 I was awarded a 60-month scholarship from the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology to study at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
I finished my M.S. in Industrial Engineering in Summer 2008 and pursued a PhD program in Fall 2008, joining the COSMOS (Center on Stochastic Modeling, Optimization, & Statistics) family. My research focused on the study of an advanced statistical method called Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS) and the development of variants and sequential algorithms that provide more flexibility to the modeling process and facilitate the optimization routines. The case studies included an inventory forecasting problem, an air pollution problem and an automotive crash safety design problem.
During my graduate studies I was selected as a Graduate Research Assistant at TMAC, where I had the opportunity of being involved in different consulting projects for small and medium companies located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Being part of the diverse community of UTA has been absolutely one of the most important experiences in my life not only because of the professional achievements I have earned but also because of the amazing people I have been fortunate to meet.
Written by Diana Martinez, IMSE Doctoral Student
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Earlier this summer I attended the First Year Engineering Experience conference at the University of Pittsburgh. The conference afforded me an opportunity to meet with other engineering educators, discuss ideas, reflect on the topics and issues from the sessions, and chart new directions and collaborations. I met lots of great people and was inspired by what I heard. I’m already using many of the tips and techniques that I learned. At the conference I presented a paper about the correlation between being good at working in teams and being successful in graduating with an engineering degree at UTA.
Each semester a new batch of engineering students join one of UTA’s six departments offering an undergraduate degree in engineering. They all sign up for an interdisciplinary Introduction to Engineering course. Students in the class are assigned by the instructors to interdisciplinary teams of six students each. At the end of the semester, each student is required to submit a peer evaluation of each of his or her teammates as well as evaluate their own participation and contribution to the team’s activities. The instructors read each of the team members’ evaluations and note when a student consistently earns low marks from his or her peers. Those students rated low enough in peer evaluations for the instructors to reduce their project score are defined as “team underachievers.” Dr. Peterson and I hypothesized that there was a correlation between team performance in this first semester interdisciplinary group work effort and ultimate success in the College of Engineering. For this analysis we identified team underachievers from the Fall 2008 semester and tracked their academic career at UTA.
We compared the number of team underachievers in each of the categories to a randomly-selected group of students from the same peer group who were not deemed team underachievers to look for significant differences in their educational path. A chi-square test for association was performed to see if there was a relationship between team achievement in the Introduction to Engineering class and the current educational status of students who took the class in the fall 2008 semester. The results showed that the null hypothesis was rejected and there is a relationship between team achievement in the Introduction to Engineering class and educational status of the student population sampled.
These results suggest that while it not is necessary to be good at team work to be successful in university level education it is necessary to be successful in engineering education. So work on your teamwork skills students. It will be important to you now and later!
If you are interested in seeing the complete statistical analysis feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy of the paper presented.
Written by Dr. Bonnie Boardman
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My name is Nadia Martinez and I am an international student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I came to the United States on January 2007 to enrich my education by accomplishing a master’s degree and pursuing a doctorate degree program. I obtained my master’s degree in fall 2008 and am currently working on my Ph.D. at the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department.
I belong to the Center On Stochastic, Modeling, Optimization, and Statistics (COSMOS) where the main objective is to design and model complex real-world systems. My research is focused on developing a deterministic global optimization method based on mixed integer linear programming to solve a piecewise linear function generated by a flexible statistical model subject to constraints that include both linear regression models and piecewise linear models. One of the main applications of this method is on the safety system design of automotive vehicles, with a special interest in crash-worthiness. This type of systems is considered computationally complex. I have also worked as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) at TMAC, which is a research center of the College of Engineering at UTA, where I have participated in different projects related to my Industrial Engineering career. The opportunity I have had of being a GRA has definitely increased my vision about how to deal with real-life problems.
Through my experiences at UTA, I have learned and realized that I was not only fulfilling a dream but I was also becoming part of a big and great family. Although being away from your beloved ones is not an easy thing, being around with such an amazing people like students, professors, co-workers and friends have made of this experience an amazing journey. Sharing cultures, beliefs and ways of life is an incredible opportunity to mature and expand your horizons.
Written By Nadia Martinez, IMSE Doctoral Student
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