Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

In Memoriam of Rupy Sawhney

Rapinder “Rupy” Sawhney, ISE professor and Heath Faculty Fellow in Engineering, passed away on December 7, 2022. He had been a member of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering since 1976 when he was an undergraduate student, then going on to earn his master’s and doctorate from the department as well. Starting as an assistant professor, he moved through the faculty ranks and earned recognition as the Heath Faculty Fellow in Engineering.

Sawhney served as head of the department as it transitioned to become the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

“Dr. Sawhney’s vision and energy for this department is a primary reason the department still exists,” commented current ISE department head John Kobza. “He was head during a critical time when research became much more important for the college. Without his leadership, our department would not have made the transition.”

He also founded the Center for Advanced Systems Research and Education and grew its activities over the past decade.

Sawhney, along with Russell Zaretzki, associate professor of business analytics and statistics and Heath Faculty Fellow in Business, helped to establish the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering program. This unique program brings together students from the Tickle College of Engineering and Haslam College of Business and includes an innovative systems-thinking curriculum reflecting Sawhney’s knowledge and expertise.

“In my role, I hear from a lot of alumni, and I often ask them who was their most influential professor,” Tickle College of Engineering Dean Matthew Mench, the Wayne T. Davis Dean’s Chair noted. “In ISE, the answer was almost always Dr. Sawhney. He had an outstanding and internationally respected research program, but he never lost sight of his passion to teach the next generation of engineers at the highest levels.”

Kobza also made note of the distinct way that Sawhney inspired his students.

“Rupy challenged students to think every time he was in a classroom,” he said. “Students didn’t always like this, but it always changed how they saw the world and their roles as engineers.”

Mench said that, though he may be gone in person, Sawhney’s legacy will continue to be felt for years to come.

“His focus on engineering better outcomes in the workplace led to the development of the Sawhney Model, a globally recognized method of improving both productivity and the health of workers, further cementing his legacy for putting people first,” Mench said. “The profession of engineering is better for having Dr. Sawhney, and we will greatly miss him both as a faculty member and as a fine role model and human being.”

Share Your Memories

Use the form below to share your memories of Rapinder "Rupy" Sawhney. Your memories may be featured in a future publication from the Tickle College of Engineering.