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Dr. Anahita Khojandi was the Runner-up in the Competition for the Prestigious George B. Dantzig Award

KhojandiDr. Anahita Khojandi was the runner-up in the competition for the prestigious George B. Dantzig Award   for her Ph.D. dissertation “Optimizing Implanted Cardiac Device Follow-Up Care.” in INFORMS 2014 Annual Meeting at San Francisco. She was honorably mentioned and received a cash prize. The George B. Dantzig Award is given for the best dissertation in any area of operations research and the management sciences that is innovative and relevant to practice. This award has been established to encourage academic research that combines theory and practice and stimulates greater interaction between doctoral students (and their advisors) and the world of practice. The criteria used by the Award committee include: implementation, and relevance to practice; technical quality and richness of solution approach; creativity and novelty; scope and magnitude; and exposition. Continue reading

Dr. Jim Ostrowski Won 2014 INFORMS Computing Society Prize

Dr. Ostrowski (2)The 2014 Informs Computing Society prize is awarded to Jim Ostrowski, Jeff Linderoth, Fabrizio Rossi, and Stefano Smriglio for their work on dealing with symmetry in combinatorial optimization problems. Symmetry constitutes one of the “last frontiers” of integer programming, as it is easily observed that even moderate size problem instances with a large amount of symmetry routinely defeat all general purpose solvers.  Symmetry, as is well-known, produces large branch-and-bound trees.  Furthermore, formulations of combinatorial problems with a high degree of symmetry also tend to yield very weak relaxations whose bounds do not improve much (or at all) even after a large amount of branching.The awarded work encompasses a family of elegant techniques which branch on combinatorial objects not directly obvious from a problem formulation.  This careful enumeration not only avoids the direct cost of enumeration, but by capturing structure of the problem quickly leads to improved bounds.  On the computational side, the work also incorporates innovative high-throughput computing techniques.  These efforts proved successful at obtaining optimal solutions to previously unsolved instances as well as improved bounds, thus covering a nice span from theory to implementation.  Finally, the work may prove influential in the development of commercial integer programming software. Please see the following papers for details.

  • Orbital Branching, Mathematical Programming, 126:147-178, 2011.
  • Constraint Orbital Branching, IPCO 2008: Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 5035, Springer, 225-239, 2008.
  • Solving Large Steiner Triple Covering Problems, Operations Research Letters, 39:127-131, 2011.

Dwight Kessel, BSIE ’50, Honored with ISE Award

After a three and a half year stint in the Navy during WWII, Dwight Kessel came to UT, graduating in 1950 with a BS in industrial engineering. After working as an Engineer (1950-1963), he entered political office as a Knoxville City Councilman (1963-1966), as Knox County Clerk (1966-1980), and served as the first Knox County Executive (now County Mayor) from 1980-1994. His community involvement includes time with the Boy Scouts of America, the Greater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, the Girls Club, Knox County Health Council, Development Corporation of Knox County, Juvenile Court Advisory Board, East Tennessee Foundation, and many more. He has been extensively involved with the UT National Alumni Association, serving as treasurer, secretary, vice president, and president as well as participating as a member of the scholarship committee. He also served on the UT College of Engineering Board of Advisors, and was a previous chairman of the UT Chancellor’s Associates and the UT Development Council.

The Howard P. Emerson Alumni Award recognizes alumni, friends, or former faculty of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering who exemplify the Volunteer spirit and have brought credit to the department through distinguished personal and professional accomplishments. The award honors Howard P. Emerson who served as the founding head of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, from 1947 to 1968 and is remembered for his years of unselfish and devoted service to his students and UT.


ISE Faculty, Staff & Alum honored at TCOE Award Banquet

At the annual Tickle College of Engineering Awards banquet, held on April 5, 2018, ISE faculty, staff and an alum were honored.

Leslie Benmark’s career took her from the halls of UT, as an IE student, to the headquarters of DuPont.

Now, she returns to campus as the Tickle College of Engineering’s 2018 Nathan W. Dougherty Award winner, the highest honor given by the college.

“I am humbled and feel truly blessed for this recognition,” said Benmark. “My success in life began with my industrial engineering education here at UT. The career I’ve had, the places I’ve been, and the opportunities to serve are all proof of how far engineering can take you.”

While Benmark—who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UT in 1967 and ’70, respectively—was successful in the corporate world at Monsanto and DuPont, she also has several other positions and accolades of note.

She served as president of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, for the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, and was a member of the US delegation of the Council for International Engineering Practice for Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

In 1993, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor an engineer can achieve, in both industrial, manufacturing, and operational systems engineering as well as in computer science and engineering.

The award has been given annually in honor of Dougherty, who served as dean of the college from 1940 to 1956 and was a captain of UT’s football and basketball teams as a student athlete in the early 1900s. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

Recognizing Dougherty’s success in engineering and education, the award singles out those who have “brought honor and distinction to the college through their achievements or who have made significant contributions to the engineering profession in Tennessee through their professional activities.”

Dr. Mingzhou Jin, Associate Head and Professor, was awarded an Outstanding Faculty Service Award at the banquet.




Yvette Gooden, ISE staff, was awarded the Outstanding Support Staff Award.





ISE Students Receive Chancellor Awards

Several of our ISE students received Chancellor’s awards in April. One of them receiving the Torchbearer award. We are beyond proud of our ISE students!

Cullen Johnson, ISE Senior, was named as a 2018 Torchbearer. A torchbearer is the highest honor given to UT students, this distinction reminds all students that those who bear the Torch of Enlightenment shadow themselves to give light to others. Given to honor graduating seniors for academic excellence and service to the university and society at large.

The Chancellor’s Extraordinary Academic Achievement  honors are awarded to undergraduates who exhibit extraordinary scholarship. The ISE students who were honored this year are:

  • Ethan Deakins
  • Danika Dorris
  • Chris Muir

The Chancellor’s Extraordinary Professional Promise honors are awarded to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate professional promise in teaching, research, or other contributions. The ISE students who were honored this year are:

  • Madelynn Allison (UG)
  • Taner Cokyasar (G)
  • Danika Dorris (UG)
  • Abigail Harr (UG)
  • Chris Muir (UG)
  • Taylor Woodward (UG)
  • Brenna Zimmerman (UG)

Congratulations to all honorees. Go ISE, Go VOLS!

Ostrowski Honored with Two Prestigious Awards

James Ostrowski was recently picked a bythe US Department of Energy’s Office of Science for its Early Career Research Program. He was selected for his research into complex algorithms.

James Ostrowski

In his work “Symmetric Convex Sets: Theory, Algorithms, and Application,” Ostrowski notes that the growth in use and improvement of algorithms has allowed computers to take on new roles in areas that require rapid decision making, such as transportation, but that some persistent quirks remain.

He theorizes that those problems all have something in common and should be approached with that in mind.

“By developing tools that exploit this symmetric structure, one will be able to easily solve optimization problems considered intractable and improve the computational speeds by orders of magnitude,” Ostrowski says in his abstract. “The challenge of solving optimization problems will thus be transformed by changing a large part of the work to one of seeking symmetry and then exploiting it.”


He was also awarded the 2018 Dr. Kenneth E. Kirby Endowed Faculty Award by the ISE Department. This award is presented annually to a faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, research, and contributions to the mission of the ISE Department.

The Dr. Kenneth E. Kirby Endowed Faculty Award recognizes faculty excellence in ms Engineering . The endowed award was established by Joe Fareed (BS/IE ’85), Mike Zill (BS/IE ‘85), Mike Ray (BS/IE ’81), Greg Carpenter (BS/IE ’88), Randy Carson (BS/IE ’84), and Mike Evans (BS/IE ’85) to honor Dr. Kirby, Associate Professor Emeritus, for his impact on the academic experiences and subsequent careers of hundreds of ISE alumni.  Dr. Kirby is a three-time UT alumnus, having earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1962 and 1979, respectively, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Science in 1979.

ISE PhD Grads Land University Job

Shima Mohebbi, graduated from ISE in 2015, currently a postdoc fellow at the University of South Florida, will be joining the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Oklahoma as an assistant professor, in the fall of 2017. Her advisor at UT was Dr, Xueping Li. Mohebbi has been conducting research on improving resiliency of critical infrastructure at USF. She is a co-PI of a project entitled “Integrative Decision Making Framework to Enhance the Resiliency of Interdependent Critical Infrastructures,” funded by the NSF CRISP program ($1.96M, #1638301). During her time at UT she received the Chancellor’s Extraordinary Professional Promise Award and the Chad/Ann Blair Holliday Fellowship. Mohebbi was a finalists for the 2014 IIE Gilbreth Memorial Fellowship. She was nominated by IISE in 2015 for the New Faces of Engineering national program, and was featured on


Nelson Granda is now an Assistant Professor at West Carolina University while continuing his PhD work at UT. His research is about additive manufacturing and sustainability. His advisor is Dr. Mingzhou Jin.






Dr. Seyed Ahmad Niknam

is now Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering & Engineering Management at Western New England University.

ISE Hosted IISE Conference in 2017


2017 IISE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, welcomed students from nine universities around the region for the Institute of Industrial and System Engineers (IISE) Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference February 24-26, 2017. The event was hosted by UT’s IISE chapter at the Holiday Inn Knoxville. “The IISE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference is a weekend full of networking events, team building activities, a job fair catering specifically to industrial engineering students, as well as successful keynote speakers from the local Knoxville area,” said Hannah Jarrett, one of the conference’s three co-chairs.

Kylie White, a conference co-chair and senior in ISE, believes this was a great opportunity for the department and its students. “One of the benefits of hosting the conference is having students from other universities visit Knoxville and be exposed to our growing ISE undergraduate and graduate programs,” said White. “Also, hosting the conference at UT makes it exceedingly cheaper and easier for UT ISE students to attend.”

The weekend began with an opening banquet at the Foundry in Knoxville on Friday. Ken Pittman, Plant Manager at Fresenius Medical Care, served as the keynote speaker for the dinner. Following dinner, students played “Minute to Win It” games as icebreakers to get to know one another better. Friday also offered students the chance to tour Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, CVS Pharmacy’s Distribution Center, and the Southern Impact Research Center.

Conference speakers included Wayne Davis, dean of the Tickle College of Engineering, John Kobza, head of the ISE department, Jordan Spradling, Director of Transportation and Logistics at Flying J, and Eric Zeanah, President of American Accessories International, LLC. The speakers and plant tours featured a wide range of industries—a calculated move by the conference co-chairs. “The co-chairs strategically chose speakers and plant tours that represent a variety of industries: research laboratories, e-commerce industries, production and manufacturing, health-care systems, entrepreneurship techniques, and logistics engineering,” Frech said. “With the diversity of the sessions, I hope that we catered to each student’s personal interests at some point throughout the weekend.”

This IISE conference, the first UT has hosted in six years, attracted students from Clemson University, East Carolina University, Francis Marion University, Methodist University, North Carolina A & T, North Carolina State University, West Virginia University, and Virginia Tech. “The conference had an excellent turn out! There were almost 180 students and 25 company representatives in attendance, and the students actively interacted and networked with the professionals at the career fair and in the breakout sessions,” Frech said. “It was a rare opportunity to bring our region’s greatest leaders and aspiring young professionals together, so it is an honor that we could accommodate them here in Knoxville.”


ISE Faculty & Students Honored with Chancellor Awards

2017 Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award

Students who nominated Rupy Sawhney for his award say he’s a dynamic teacher who demonstrates his commitment to their future success by taking them on industrial visits, incorporating real-life examples into their lessons, and keeping them involved through games and projects. Because Sawhney is so involved in creating ties between the community and the university—in 2015, he was appointed to the Mayor’s Council on Disability Initiatives—he is a natural at encouraging students to understand how their engineering skills can be used to enhance society. One student observed, “The most important lesson he has taught is what our passion must be—to be of service to mankind.”

2017 Chancellor’s Extraordinary Professional Promise Award

This prestigious award was given to two ISE PhD Students:

Wolday D. Abrha and Roshanak Akram


Dr. Jin Awarded 2017 Dr. Kenneth E. Kirby Award

The inaugural recipient of the Dr. Kenneth E. Kirby Endowed Faculty Award is Dr. Mingzhou Jin, professor and associate head of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). The Dr. Kenneth E. Kirby Endowed Faculty Award is presented annually to a faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, research, and contributions to the mission of the ISE Department.




The Dr. Kenneth E. Kirby Endowed Faculty Award recognizes faculty excellence in teaching, research, and contributions to the mission of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering . The endowed award was established by Joe Fareed (BS/IE ’85), Mike Zill (BS/IE ‘85), Mike Ray (BS/IE ’81), Greg Carpenter (BS/IE ’88), Randy Carson (BS/IE ’84), and Mike Evans (BS/IE ’85) to honor Dr. Kirby, Associate Professor Emeritus, for his impact on the academic experiences and subsequent careers of hundreds of ISE alumni.  Dr. Kirby is a three-time UT alumnus, having earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1962 and 1979, respectively, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Science in 1979.



New Engineering Degree Partnership between Chattanooga State and UTK

ISE Newsletter S2016

Chattanooga State  Community College
engineering students now have a pathway to a bachelor’s degree from University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s industrial engineering program while they work on their associate degrees locally.
The new 2+2 program, lets students study at Chattanooga State for two years and then enter UTK as a junior for their remaining years. Participants would graduate with an associate degree in applied science–general engineering and a Bachelor  of Science in industrial engineering. Tim McGhee, Chattanooga State engineering technology division dean, said that while the community college has existing partnerships with UTC, it’s their first partnership with UT, Knoxville.  “Local students interested in one of the most sought after engineering fields now have a “direct line” with the state’s flagship university,” McGhee said. “Industrial engineering is one of the highest-demand professions in Tennessee, and UT Knoxville has the only industrial engineering degree in Tennessee,” McGhee said.
Dr. John Kobza, head of the UT Knoxville Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, said “The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at UT Knoxville is excited to be partnering with Chattanooga State Community College
to provide a pathway to our industrial engineering degree, Chattanooga State is well known for their strong technical programs, and we feel their general engineering students will be extremely well prepared to transfer to UTK and succeed in
our industrial engineering program.”
Current Chattanooga State sophomores can begin applying for the 2+2 program this spring, officials said. To be eligible, Chattanooga State students must graduate
with an associate degree in general engineering with no less than a 3.0 GPA, officials said.

Article reprinted from, written by Matt Pulford

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