Industrial and Systems Engineering

School of Engineering


The Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department at Rensselaer focuses its research on applying the core disciplinary strengths of Industrial and Systems Engineering to both traditional and interdisciplinary applications. In general, ISE involves the application of mathematical, computational, statistical and information science methods to model, analyze, and solve complex decision problems in engineering, business, and social systems. It is distinctive from management and economics in the use of an engineering approach to design and analyze enterprise processes to optimize system-level performance. It is distinctive from computer science in its focus on the design of data and knowledge systems as the organizational nerve center where operations and enterprise systems are integrated.

In recent years, the two signature themes of Disaster Response and Adaptive Supply Chains have been a part of multiple faculty members' research activities. Our research in disaster response has been funded through the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. Our research in adaptive supply chains has bend funded through the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and industry. Our faculty apply a variety of ISE tools to these critical application areas including, but not limited to, optimization, simulation, applied statistics, human factors and cognitive engineering. An overview of each of these areas is provided below and you can follow the links to access discussions on some example projects within each of these themes.

Disaster Response

The research theme of disaster response focus on applying ISE tools to help better prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant disruptive events that impact the critical infrastructure and supply chain networks which form the backbone of today's society. Our faculty are creating new computational models and analytical tools that allow decision-makers to gain new insights into how to make society more resilient to potentially catastrophic events. Example projects in this area include:

  • Interdependent Infrastructure Resilience, Faculty: Professor Mitchell, Professor Sharkey , and Professor Wallace .
  • Disaster Response Capabilities in Remote Regions, Faculty: Professor Grabowski , Professor Sharkey , and Professor Wallace .
  • Debris Removal, Faculty: Professor Mendonca .

  • Infrastructure Resiliency Overview

    Use of Social Media for Collective Behavior Prediction

    Adaptive Supply Chains

    The research theme of adaptive supply chains focuses on the logistics of efficiently deploying finite resources to assemble, transport, sustain and distribute people and goods, thereby facilitating the fulfillment of demand associated with economic commerce, national defense, disaster response, and/or humanitarian aid. Traditional approaches are insufficient to model current and next-generation supply chains where criteria related to risk management, information visibility, and resilience are emerging as critical factors in evaluating planning decisions. Example projects in this area include:

    Decision Making in Logistics

    Risk Management in Supply Chain

    Supply Chain Resiliency

    Disruption of Illegal Supply Chain: Drug Interdiction

    Other Important Research Themes

    ISE faculty members are also actively involved in research projects in application areas including sharing economies, energy and the environment, service systems engineering, biotechnology, and law enforcement. Research into sharing economies is examining how to increase resource efficiency through the sharing of existing, idle capacity by creating approaches to match supply and demand in these systems. Research into energy and the environment focuses on modeling self-reconfigurable power grids with cyber-infrastructure and distributed sensors using agent-based methodologies. ISE research in service systems engineering builds on the complementarity of services and manufacturing in applying cyberinfrastructure to produce and provide on-demand, mass-customized services. Research in biotechnology uses computational intelligence for computer-aided drug design, simulation tools for modeling the spread of infectious diseases, and the development of text-mining techniques in bioinformatics. ISE research in law enforcement examines issues on how to effectively allocate scarce resources to activities that focus on gaining intelligence about criminals and in physically arresting them.