Penn State industrial engineering sponsors service systems engineering award


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) co-sponsored the Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award competition during the annual spring Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering (IISE) Conference and Expo from May 22-25.

The Outstanding Innovation in Service Systems Engineering Award recognizes individuals or teams who have developed innovative techniques to improve the performance of service industries, according to the IISE website. The winners received two complimentary conference registrations and were recognized during the event.

According to Vittaldas Prabhu, Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair in Service Enterprise Engineering and director of SEE 360, the competition’s goals closely align with the mission of the Penn State Service Enterprise Engineering Initiative (SEE 360). The program focuses on building awareness and enhancing educational tools to improve the productivity and quality of the service sector.

“This year’s winners represent the vast opportunities across several service industries ranging from airlines, container supply chains and non-profits,” Prabhu said. “They are truly outstanding exemplars of how applying service systems approach can lead to innovative solutions that create value through improved productivity and customer service.”

To enter this competition, teams and individuals submitted PowerPoint presentations that explained the motivations, approaches, reasonings, trials and successes of their projects. The presentations were evaluated by the IISE Honors and Awards Committee, comprising industrial engineering experts from universities across the United States.

The 2021 winners were:

  • First place: “Prescriptive Analytics for Swapping Aircraft Assignments at All Nippon Airways” by Saravanan Venkatachalam, Wayne State University; Suresh Acharya, University of Maryland; and Kenji Oba, Juro International Systems
  • Second place: “Innovative Value Stream Improvement to close BIG Performance Gaps with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto” by Caroline Kent, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Josh Smertz, The Poirier Group
  • Third place: “Improving Operations and Pricing of Container Rail Haulage in India” by Amit Upadhyay, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
  • Finalist: “Empowering Denver Public Schools System to Optimize School Bus Operations” by Amanda Chu, Georgia Institute of Technology; Pinar Keskinocak, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Monica Villarreal, Denver Public Schools

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