Welcome from the Department Head

Al Wallace

Al Wallace, Yamada Corporation Professor and Department Head

Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) became a department at Rensselaer in 1987 (the precursor program, management engineering, started much earlier in 1933).  The world has changed a great deal since then. Breathtaking technological advances are accompanied by new natural and human-made challenges—extreme weather, energy sustainability, skyrocketing healthcare cost, income inequality, disinformation, terrorism, and a slew of others. In this increasingly complex and cacophonous world, ISE’s grounding in evidence-based, data-driven reasoning and decision making is more relevant and critical than ever before.

Industrial and systems engineers today address highly interconnected societal systems consisting of engineered and human components, with distributed decision making based on huge amounts of disparate data. ISE faculty are at the forefront of the field—conducting innovative and impactful research, and at the same time bringing their insight and discovery into the classroom. To note just a few examples:

Prof. David Mendonca recently completed a two-year posting as a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation. With Wayne Gray of RPI's Cognitive Science Department, he is currently co-PI on an Office of Naval Research Grant on large-scale analysis of teamwork in League of Legends, the world's most popular game. He continues his work on human response to disaster, with a recent paper on community response to the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake and an ongoing grant from the National Science Foundation on emergent properties of networked organizations.

Prof. Jennifer Pazour received the NSF CAREER Award, Johnson and Johnson Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing, and Design (STEM2D) Award, and was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.

Prof. Sergio Pequito continued active research and teaching in complex systems.  He co-organized a workshop on “Modeling, Prediction, and Design for Complex Networks: A Multidisciplinary Perspective,” in the 2018 American Control Conference.  He also taught a timely special topic course on Cyberphysical System, using brain-computer interface as a guiding example.

 Prof. Tom Sharkey was awarded two interdisciplinary research grants by the National Science Foundation: “Emergency Response in the Arctic (ERA): Investments for Global Capabilities and Local Benefits” (co-PI: Prof. Al Wallace and Prof. Martha Grabowski, with participation of University of Alaska and NC State) and “Modeling Operations of Human Trafficking Networks for Effective Interdiction” (with University of Minnesota). In addition, he has been collaborating with Prof. Wallace and Prof. Szymanski (Computer Science) on a grant from the DHS.  Their paper "Integrative analytics for detecting and disrupting transnational interdependent criminal smuggling, money, and money-laundering networks" received the best paper award in the Land/Maritime Borders and Critical Infrastructure track at the 2018 IEEE Homeland Security Technologies Conference.

Dr. Kristen Schell will be joining ISE in January as an Assistant Professor.   Kristen’s research is in the interface of engineering, operations research and economics, especially applied to sustainability. 

 Prof. Cheng Hsu’s patent on natural language interface has ushered in the advent of voice-based search such as Siri. The settlement with Apple has enabled the establishment of an ISE department endowment fund.

Data Dexterity: ISE is active in shaping the RPI data dexterity initiative.   Prof. David Mendonca is the co-chair and Prof. Mohamed Aboul-Seoud is a member of the School of Engineering data dexterity taskforce.

ISE graduate students have been garnering multiple awards, from the Department of Defense Fellowship to scholarships in professional societies to best paper awards at conferences.

As a testament to the recognition that our faculty and students have received, our U.S. News & World Report graduate school ranking has been at 17 since 2017.

This year will bring ABET accreditation, curriculum review to ensure adequate coverage of both fundamentals and contemporary applications, and implementation of the Arch program for sophomores in the summer.  We will also continue close engagement with the ISE Advisory Council, many of whom are our alumni, for internship/co-op opportunities, capstone design project sponsorship, research collaboration, and curriculum input.

To broaden our outreach, we have updated our website and have an ISE YouTube channel. Please check them out and let us know what you think!

"Thanks for your interest in our department and visiting ISE's web site. This is a great time for the field of Industrial and Systems Engineering!

I am honored to serve as the interim ISE department head and to have the opportunity to work with wonderful students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Let’s collectively harness the idealism and actively strive for a better department, university, and society.




ISE Overview