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Janis Terpenny, PhD



Janis Terpenny is a professor of industrial and systems engineering.  Her research focuses on advancing smart integrated systems and processes for design and manufacturing as well as design education. Collaborations across disciplines and with industry and community partners have been integral to her work.

Dr. Terpenny has previously served as the Dean and Wayne T. Davis Dean’s Chair for the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK). Prior to her work at UT, Terpenny served as the Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Chair and Head of the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. She has also served as department chair of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State University, as professor at Virginia Tech in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Education and at the University of Massachusetts in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

Terpenny co-founded the Center for e-Design in 2003. During her 10+ years as its director, this National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) grew to include 7 universities and 30+ members. Terpenny also served as technical lead of the Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise (AME) area for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII, now MxD), one of the nation’s first, ManufacturingUSA Institutes. 

In addition to her academic roles, Terpenny  served as program director for the Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF, and as a systems analyst for the General Electric Company.

Terpenny earned her bachelor’s in applied mathematics from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 1979 and her master’s and doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1981 and 1996, respectively.

Terpenny’s awards include distinguished alumni honors from Virginia Tech, being named a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), and several honors for best paper, presentation, educator, researcher and outreach.

She is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, having served as an NSF Advance Professor and on the leadership team at Virginia Tech, chair of the Broadening Participation Committee for the Design Engineering Division of ASME, on the Diversity Committee of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council, and has led, launched, and/or participated in multiple diversity initiatives locally and nationally throughout her career.


Areas of Interest

Engineering Design and Smart Manufacturing: process and methods of early design; knowledge and information engineering; product families and platforms; advanced manufacturing enterprise (AME); product obsolescence; product and system complexity; design and manufacturing integration; and prognostics and diagnostics in manufacturing.

Engineering Education: effects of project types, industry/community partnerships, and user-centered design on student learning and motivation; engagement and retention of students from underrepresented groups; methods to increase complex problem-solving skills, multidisciplinary collaboration; and professional development and preparation of graduate students.


  • PhD Industrial and Systems Engineering (manufacturing systems), Virginia Tech, 1996
  • MS Industrial and Systems Engineering (operations research), Virginia Tech, 1981
  • BS Applied Mathematics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1979

Awards and Recognitions

  • Commissioner, Tennessee Technology Corridor Development Authority (2020–2025, 5-year term)

  • Senior Vice President–Academic, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers Board of Trustees, elected 2019

  • Volunteer for: United Way of Greater Knoxville, East Tennessee Children's Hospital, and Make-a-Wish of East Tennessee
  • Member (elected), Public Policy Committee (PPC), ASEE Engineering Deans Council (EDC), 2020-2021
  • Member, Diversity Committee, ASEE Engineering Deans Council (EDC), 2019-2021
  • Director, Center for eDesign, a National Science Foundation Industry University Cooperative Research Center, 2003–2019
  • Program Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation 2010–2011
  • Member, American Society for Engineering Education, 1998–present
  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2012–present (member since 1995)
  • Fellow, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, 2010–present (member since 1980)
  • Member, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, 2011–present.
  • Member, SME (formerly, Society of Manufacturing Engineers), 2015–present
  • Member, Women in Engineering ProActive Network, 2011–present
  • Eminent Engineer, Tau Beta Pi, inducted 2011
  • Technical Lead, Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, a ManufacturingUSA Institute, 2014–2015

Contact Information