Industrial engineer named 'influential academic' by international society


By Gabrielle Stewart

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Soundar Kumara, Allen E. Pearce and Allen M. Pearce Professor of Industrial Engineering at Penn State, was named one of the 20 Most Influential Academics in Smart Manufacturing by SME, formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

SME, a nonprofit association of professionals, educators and students committed to promoting and supporting the manufacturing industry, selected 20 recipients who are educating the next generation of engineers and smart manufacturing technologists for the honor, according to SME’s website.

During an academic career spanning more than three decades, Kumara has served as a mentor, adviser and educator to hundreds of students. He has supervised nearly 75 master’s theses and advised or co-advised 62 doctoral students. Kumara teaches courses in artificial intelligence and data analytics to complement his smart manufacturing research work. His past students have advanced to secure positions in academia, national labs, government agencies and large companies including General Electric, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

“What we started in 1988 — working with a lathe instrumented with sensors and mapping the patterns between sensor data and quality of the part — we knew at that time was the future,” Kumara said. “Our consistent work in sensing, using artificial intelligence and neural network techniques in the 1990s, are being advanced to unprecedented heights today under the umbrella of smart manufacturing. I am grateful to all my students who made it possible for me to sow the seeds for this advancement in manufacturing during the early days of my academic career.”

Kumara has received a number of awards throughout his career, including the David F. Baker Distinguished Research Award from the Institute for Industrial and Systems Engineering (IISE) and best paper awards from several organizations. His distinctions from Penn State include the Faculty Scholar Medal and the Graduate Faculty Teaching Award. He is a fellow of IISE, the International Academy of Production Engineering, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Ihab Ragai, associate professor of engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, was also named to the list. Read more about his work here.


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College of Engineering Media Relations

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Soundar Kumara was named a “most influential academic” by SME. IMAGE: PENN STATE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING