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Laura Knight

Assistant Professor of Practice and Outreach & Engagement Coordinator


Laura Knight is an Assistant Professor of practice in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and an advocate for expanding the numbers of future industrial engineers through education and community outreach.  Collaborating across communities, industries, and academic disciplines is a vital part of her endeavors and success.

Laura returned to the Knoxville area after over 20 years of working across the country and raising a family.  She provided engineering services for a variety of private and public companies, including:

  • executive management for a large, heavy manufacturing company,
  • engineering support for a local start-up processing facility,
  • adult/STEM education in the workplace,
  • engineering and project management for four locations of a large metal fabricator,
  • products liability, design, and quality roles, including expert witness, for a consumer products manufacturer,
  • manufacturing programs and team-based operations development and coordination for a large commodity manufacturer, and
  • research support for an injury prevention institute.

In addition to professional responsibilities, Laura volunteered in many roles initiating and coaching STEM/robotics teams, acting as leader and board member for sports teams, and performing strategic, long and short-term planning for local schools.  In 2017, she received the Notre Dame Jr/Sr High School Adult Volunteer Award. 

Laura also acted as President/Owner of a developing children’s discovery museum, directing a working board which acted as a ‘museum without walls’, bringing outreach programs to an underserved population in Missouri and Illinois.  She also worked as a yoga, group exercise, and weight lifting instructor in North Carolina and Missouri. Growing up, Laura lived in Madagascar, eastern Africa, and Algeria, and is still an avid traveler.

Areas of Interest

  • Community Outreach and Engagement
  • Facilities Layout and Design
  • Human Factors: Product Design and Usability, Applied Ergonomics
  • Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Continuous Improvement
  • Leadership: Individual, Team, Organization
  • Management: Technical, Project, Change

 Courses Taught

  • Facilities Design and Material Handling
  • IE Senior Design II: Capstone
  • Quality Control and Management
  • Introduction to Engineering Entrepreneurship
  • Applied Human Factors (special topic)
  • IE Leadership Series


  • MS, Industrial Engineering (human factors), The University of Tennessee, 1992
  • BS, Industrial Engineering (concentration: manufacturing; minor: business administration), The University of Tennessee, 1991

Professional Service

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
  • American Society of Testing and Materials
  • Institute of Industrial Engineers

Awards and Recognitions

Co-Advisor, NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), 2020 – present

Recipient, Outstanding Faculty Award, UTISE Department, 2019

Mentor, Speaker, UT Womengineers, 2019-present

Faculty Representative, Tickle College of Engineering Women’s Leadership Council, 2019-present

Member, Peer Reviewer, and Judge, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 1992-present

Member, American Society for Engineering Education, 2019–present

Member, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, 2019– present (prior member IIE 1991-1995)

Founding member of Northeast Missouri Unintentional Injury Coalition, (group working to reduce childhood injuries in region), 2004-2007

Member, National Safe Kids Coalition area groups, CO, PA, NC and MO, 1994-2007

Board of Directors and working member, Operation Safety Net (volunteer group in PA, providing healthcare and medicine to the working poor), 1998-1999

Volunteer NHTSA-trained child passenger safety checker, CO, 1995-96

Instructor, Junior Achievement, CO and AL, 1995-1996

Prior Member, ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) 1995-1996

Member, American Society for Quality Control, 1993-1996

Prior Member, SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers), 1993-1995

Registered Engineer-in-Training License (Tennessee No. 14528: 1992)


  • Represented over 14,000 small and medium sized manufacturers in a nationally televised press conference (C-SPAN) followed by oral and written testimony to a Congressional subcommittee reviewing proposed OSHA Ergonomics regulations, 1999-2000
  • “Office Ergonomics and Evaluation” and “Warnings – what, how, why?”, in-house seminars, 1996
  • “Improving Safety Through Teamwork,” Safety Council, Central New York, 1994
  • Co-authored with Dr. R. Sawhney, “Safety: A Strategic Tool for Improving Manufacturing Systems,” 36th Meeting, Human Factors Society, 1992
  • Published Ergonomic Design Considerations for the Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in a Research Environment, original thesis, The University of Tennessee, 1992

Contact Information