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Industrial & Systems Engineering and Engineering Management The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville


Dr. James Swain

    I am delighted to return to the role of chair of UAH’s Industrial & Systems Engineering and Engineering Management (ISEEM) program as the 2017/18 academic year gets underway. Our program is growing, with Fall 2017 enrollment of over 200, including 76 graduate-level students. In 2017, 20% of all Master-level engineering graduates came from ISEEM. SR Education Group recently reported that UAH's systems engineering program is ranked in the 2018 Top and Most Affordable online colleges based on value and economic options.* Inclusion on this list shows high academic standards and a commitment to affordability.      Our undergraduate program combines focus on both engineering fundamentals and specialized industrial engineering methodologies. Many team-based projects and exposure to regional industry equips graduates to pursue careers in facilities design, human factors engineering, health systems engineering, manufacturing systems design, modeling and simulation, and much more.      ISEEM faculty operate on-campus labs researching a diverse array of emerging issues in the industry. The Complex Systems Integration Lab (CSIL) works hand-in-hand with aerospace and defense agencies to conduct model-based systems engineering (MBSE) research. The ImagEnS Lab examines systems engineering preferences and theories underlying stakeholder-focused engineering. The Advanced Manufacturing Lab is working to close knowledge gaps on material and manufacturing process variables involved in this emerging manufacturing technology. All of our labs and research operations employ students from across UAH’s College of Engineering.      Our students are encouraged to share their research findings through publishing and conference presentations, including UAH-hosted events orchestrated or supported by our faculty. Dr. Dale Thomas moderated a panel session at the 2017 Von Braun Memorial Symposium where four ISEEMers competed in the poster competition for young aeronautical professionals. Dr. Bryan Mesmer served as logistics chair at this year's American Society for Engineering Management conference, with the support of several students. Drs. Sampson Gholston and Sherri Messimer serve as the academic chairs for the 2017 Lean Six Sigma conference, where four ISEEM students will present posters (November).      It is an exciting time for the ISEEM Department as we continue developing a collaborative academic and research environment. We continue to update our curriculum to include topics of current interest, and plan additional improvements to our lab spaces. *Sources: and /most-affordable-colleges/systems-engineering-masters-degrees

Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Departmental News New Faculty

    At the start of the Fall 2017 semester, the ISEEM department welcomed Dr. Leonard Petnga as an Assistant Professor. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Systems from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2016. Prior to joining UAH, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the US Army Research Laboratory and the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland. He is also a former Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Scholar at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. In 2013, he won the Best Paper Award at the 11th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research.      Dr. Petnga’s research focuses on knowledge structures for model-based systems engineering and integration of complex systems with an emphasis on CPS and System of Systems. His work involves the development of procedures for modeling, reasoning, and integration of system behavior and structure across domains with applications in transportation (air, ground, water), unmanned aircraft systems, and Internet of Things .

                                                Introducing Healthcare Systems Engineering Series

                                                      ISEEM is now offering a three-course track in Healthcare Systems Engineering,                                                   which looks at ways providers can provide efficient quality care while controlling                                                   costs. To improve outcomes and efficiencies in clinical practices, systems                                                   engineering principles must be applied to healthcare delivery processes. Industrial engineers can improve efficiency in multiple healthcare delivery areas by applying advanced analytical methods and tools within a medical practice or healthcare operations. Some students have already completed projects--collaborating with professionals within the Huntsville Hospital system--in warehouse distribution, equipment management, emergency departments, and clinical practices.      This fall's course, Introduction to Healthcare Systems Engineering, presents strategies for creating engineered solution concepts in healthcare delivery, measurement, and modeling to improve current systems and create new ones. Additional courses, offered in spring and summer, include Lean Healthcare Continuous Improvement, and Healthcare Design, the latter of which will serve as a senior design project opportunity.  Dr. Sampson Gholston leads the series.


    Dr. Sherri Messimer and alumnus Albert Patterson, along with co-authors from the mechanical and aerospace engineering program, authored "Design and Performance of Modular 3-D Printed SolidPropellant Rocket Airframes," which was selected as a featured paper and published in the March issue of  Aerospace. The paper explores a novel method for design modularization of rocket airframes using additive manufacturing technology. Many of the studies referenced were performed on campus. Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Departmental News (continued)


    ISEEM labs continue to receive funding and contracts for aerospace and defense research. The Complex Systems Integration Lab, directed by Dr. L. Dale Thomas, has been contracted by NASA to study the use of nuclear thermal propulsion on human space transportation vehicle relative to the Mars mission.  Meanwhile, the newly established ImagEnS lab, headed by Dr. Bryan Mesmer, has partnered with NASA Aerospace and Systems Engineering Consortium to conduct NASA stakeholder value modeling and modelbased systems engineering.      The Department of Defense (DoD) recently awarded $273,000 to create a systems-of-systems model of the DoD enterprise to help enable acquisition using the digital thread. ISEEM professor Dr. Paul Collopy is a co-investigator, along with faculty researchers from Georgia Tech Research Institute.      The defense community, including government and industry, is moving away from paper-based systems engineering that depends on requirement specifications and checklists toward more model-based processes and tools. Model-based systems engineering and similar changes constitute the “digital thread,” a change that is expected to directly improve the design quality of defense systems, but it may also fundamentally change how business is conducted, affecting competition, organization structures, roles and relationships.      The research project, awarded through the DoD’s Systems Engineering Research Center, will study the influences of the digital thread on how engineering, product development, and product life-cycle management will be affected by the new digital thread.

Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Faculty Profile DR. L. DALE THOMAS Dr. L. Dale Thomas, professor and eminent scholar in systems engineering, is the new director of the Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC). Dr. Thomas is also the new director of Alabama’s NASA Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program. New statewide initiatives to build and fly complex scientific missions are among his goals for the programs. A faculty member in UAH’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering & Engineering Management, Dr. Thomas will lead both efforts from offices on the UAH campus. "UAH has been, and will remain, the lead institution for the Alabama Space Grant Consortium and the Alabama NASA EPSCoR programs," Dr. Thomas says. "I am assuming leadership of a statewide organization that is of particular value to UAH because it helps give greater visibility to UAH programs and will foster current and new relationships within NASA, the Dept. of Defense and Cummings Research Park, as well as collaborations with other Alabama universities." ASGC funds fellowships, scholarships and internships for students pursuing careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) fields, as well as curriculum enhancement and faculty development. ASGC also administers pre-college and public service education projects. NASA’s EPSCoR program establishes partnerships with government, higher education and industry that are designed to effect lasting improvements in Alabama’s research infrastructure, research and development capacity and its national research and development competitiveness. "The Alabama Space Grant Consortium and the NASA EPSCoR programs are important because they connect Alabama students, educators and faculty to NASA resources and opportunities in various ways," Dr. Thomas says. "The Alabama Space Grant Consortium was among the first 14 consortia and three universities chosen in August of 1989 for NASA’s space grant program, which promotes research and education in science, math, engineering and technology fields related to space exploration," he says. "Today, seven Alabama Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

universities comprise the ASGC. Each university in the Alabama consortium offers masters and doctoral degrees in STEM fields and is involved in NASA-sponsored research." Dr. Thomas says his goals will continue the ASGC’s legacy of effective and efficient program execution. "I want to roll out some statewide initiatives to build and fly scientific missions of substantial scale and complexity," he says. "The ASGC primary programs are outstanding but are largely constrained to what can be accomplished by student teams at any particular university. This initiative will focus on larger and more complex flight projects that require cooperative efforts among multiple ASGC universities." Dr. Thomas envisions each project accomplishing science objectives that will enable a university scientific principle investigator to attain results which will lead to publication in a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal. "Since the scale of the project will require a cooperative effort among multiple ASGC universities, engineering and science students will learn collaboration skills absolutely essential in today’s STEM workplace," Dr. Thomas says. "Successful development and flight of missions of this scale is unprecedented among state Space Grant consortia, and will place Alabama at the forefront of Space Grant consortia." Boosting the number and mix of ASGC industrial affiliates, improving alignment of ASGC programs with the efforts of local and state governmental and industrial organizations, and developing a strategy to foster innovation and entrepreneurship are also on Dr. Thomas’ agenda. "When asked by a member of the ASGC management committee during the interview for my desired legacy if selected as ASGC director, I replied, ‘A large number of Alabama businesses with their roots in ASGC programs,’" Dr. Thomas says. "The Huntsville area in particular, but also other areas within the state, are experiencing sound growth of high-tech industry. This strategy will be developed through interactions with academic, business, civic and government leaders such that programs can be adjusted or new programs created to enable a robust, homegrown Alabama space business base." Dr. Thomas joined UAH after retiring from NASA in July 2015. He serves as the deputy director of the UAH Propulsion Research Center, where he guides strategic planning. "During my brief time at UAH, I have interacted extensively with the aerospace industry in the Huntsville area, as well as with government organizations on Redstone Arsenal to strategically align the UAH Systems Engineering program with the needs of industry and government in the area," he says. "These discussions led to the establishment of new curricula, Model Based Systems Engineering, and the establishment of the Bastion Technical Fellows Program for the sponsorship of engineering graduate student research." Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Alumni Profile MEHRNAZ DOUSTMOHAMMADI, 2015 Simulation course offered by UAH helps rural transit operators improve safety outcomes Mehrnaz Doustmohammadi may be a good driver in real life, but she has yet to master the close-quarters maneuvering course provided by RIDE, a million-dollar mobile driving simulator funded through a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and housed and operated by The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). “It’s hard,” laughs the Ph.D. candidate in transportation engineering. Fortunately, she’s not the course’s target audience. Rather she is the principal investigator on a grant from ALDOT and Auburn University through the Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP). Funding provided by the grant enables rural transit operators from across the state to receive training in defensive driving, close-quarters maneuvering, negotiating intersections, and night/fog driving. “They love it,” says Doustmohammadi. “They are much better than me!” Each of Alabama’s 30 rural public transportation agencies and the roughly 150 agencies that specialize in transporting elderly and disabled passengers are required to have at least one driver complete the course. To ensure equal access, the courses are offered at several locations across the state. “We’ve been to Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Troy, and Guntersville,” says Doustmohammadi, who earned her master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from UAH in 2015. “On any given day, we can train about 20 operators using the simulator, which adds up to over 400 people since we began.” Feedback from drivers who have completed the training has been positive, with many citing the course as a good refresher on how important it is to stay cautious and alert. Says one, “these riders are not just passengers – they are members of our community and friends – so it is our job to get them there and back safely.”

Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Student Profile ZACHARY THOMAS UAH’s Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center (RSESC) was under contract to improve aircraft survivability equipment in support of U.S. military operations; they approached ISEEM’s Complex Systems Integration Lab (CSIL) for support in expanding ground fire sensor capabilities on Apache helicopters. Systems engineering graduate student researcher Zachary Thomas assists on the project. "We’re trying to figure out how to give pilots better situational awareness,” said Thomas. Threats from enemies on the ground have evolved, so it's critical to enhance perception without degrading mission effectiveness. RSESC has been impressed with Zach’s contribution. He was offered a permanent position in June. “Zach is top drawer," said CSIL director and ISEEM eminent scholar, Dr. L. Dale Thomas. "He’s one of those rare students who’s not only really bright, but also complements that intellectual talent with a great work ethic and a willingness to tackle ambiguous and ill-defined problems.” Zach began his work at CSIL as an industrial and systems engineering undergraduate.  The work altered his career goals. Model-based systems engineering, which is the cornerstone of CSIL research “is an expanding field, and working here totally changed my plans. Systems engineering professionals are pushing MBSE because they see it as important and valuable,” says Thomas. Zach will graduate with his Master of Systems Engineering in December 2017. He is a member of The American Helicopter Society, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Senior Design Project ISE 428/429 SYSTEMS ANALYSIS & DESIGN Last semester (Spring 2016), ISEEM ran a series of newsletter briefs following student teams engaged in the multidisciplinary Systems Analysis & Design course required of all senior undergraduate engineering students. The course description reads:                    Philosophy and methods of industrial and non-industrial systems analysis and design. Methods                     of systems definition, analysis, simplification, evaluation, and optimization. Design project                     required. Ethics and technical writing are emphasized.

NORTHROP GRUMMAN TEAM Front row: ISEEM graduates Alyse Adams and Faith Buckley. Back row L-R: Mechanical Engineering grduates, Zach Horvath and William Klingbeil; and Computer Engineering graduates Tevon Walker and Daniel Bernues.

During ISE 428, six students were tasked by Northrop Grumman, one of the largest defense contractors in the world, with devising a method to disable enemy drones. Namely, employing counter-drones. They presented a number of design concepts, one of which was accepted for implementation--their goal for ISE 429. "It's a unique project," said computer engineer Daniel Bernues. "Ultimately they make the decision on what method they're going to use." Industrial & Systems Engineering graduate Alyse Adams added, "They are the customer. We're working as a contracting team designing the product they want." Students parlayed knowledge gained from Management Systems Analysis (ISE 327), drawing specifically on understanding the terminology and structure of deliverables .

Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Industrial & Systems Engineering graduate Faith Buckley functioned as the team's systems engineer to keep up with requirements and charts. "Requirements play a huge role in this type of environment," said Buckley. "If the requirements aren't met, you lose your customer, and quite possibly your reputation." During part one of the project, Buckley created and presented risk management charts, decision tables, and schedules to show the process and product plan details. During the second part of the design project, she tested, organized data, and created charts to effectively correlate Northrop Grumman's requirements with the team's plans. She credited prior ISE coursework with helping her navigate communications. "When the Northrop Grumman engineers are asking for clarification or for other charts, it's really helpful that I already know what they're talking about,” said Buckley.

STEELCASE TEAM ISEEM graduates Megan Ballinger, Floyd "Tomas" Roberts, Seth Allison, and Florence Bertrand.

Steelcase Inc. is a leading manufacturer of furniture for offices, hospitals, and classrooms. The Athens, Alabama plant manufactures office furniture panels, storage products and vertical fabric surfaces (panels and moveable walls). Last fall, four ISEEM students observed and recorded productivity data and conducted time studies on a filing cabinet assembly line. "The line has a varying number of operators, depending on the product variant and demand," said team lead Seth Allison. Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Operators install various components on the drawer bodies and perform a quality check at the end. Based on the previous semester's collected data, the students developed strategies to cut task completion time 6.25%. The biggest challenge to the goal was ensuring that process improvements caused no disruption to work balance across the line. Each team member had specific objectives within the project, including redesigning the line and implementing robotics into the process. Megan Ballinger provided production concepts accounting for seasonal slowdowns in product demand, devising a line balance concept for low volume and high-volume production. She used an Excel spreadsheet to break up the data, and Simio to create a virtual  manufacturing line. "It looks really cool. You can set it up just how it looks on a real line," said Ballinger. "There's a feature in the software that can record the line running and the product going through in 3D."

About Our Programs Organizations look to industrial and systems engineers to resolve problems or improve processes where outcomes are influenced by complicated and uncertain interactions between people, machines, information, materials, and energy. In short, industrial and systems engineers endeavor to find ways to do things better. Their concepts may dramatically influence how efficiently, safely, sustainably, and profitably a company achieves its objectives. The University of Alabama in Huntsville's Industrial & Systems Engineering and Engineering Management (ISEEM) program is ABET-accredited. Our graduates leave UAH prepared to devise efficient integrated organizational or production systems honed through in-depth instruction incorporating analytical, computational, and experimental practices.

Research Areas Additive Manufacturing Model Based Systems Engineering Cyber-Physical Systems Integration Simulation Modeling and Analysis Complex Engineered Systems Systems Science Engineering Material System Design

Industry Partnerships NASA U.S. Army Northrop Grumman Alabama Department of Transportation Steelcase Lockheed Martin BOEING Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville

  Supply Chain Management    Lean Manufacturing    Quality Design and Engineering Supply Systems Chain Management    Manufacturing Lean Manufacturing Systems Quality Systems DesignSystems and Engineering    Large-Scale Complex Design Manufacturing Systems    Gamification and Game Theory Large-Scale Complex Systems Design    Technology Management Gamification and Game Theory Technology Management

Jacobs Sanmina/SCI Adtran Dynetics Aerojet Rocketdyne Davidson Technologies MITRE


Our undergraduate program begins by exposing students to the fundamentals of engineering, as well as the humanities that characterize a university education. The curriculum then shifts to the specialized knowledge of industrial and systems engineering needed for a successful career in industry, the government, or academia. In addition to lab-intensive coursework and team-based projects, students have ample opportunity to see innovations firsthand through local facility tours and internship opportunities.

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ENGINEERING MASTER OF SCIENCE Industrial Engineering IN OPERATIONS RESEARCH Broadens engineering problem-solving skills: This application-oriented program expands students’ understanding of traditional and contemporary problem-solving skills in the areas of operations research, quality control, computer-integrated manufacturing, and simulation.

Broadens comprehension of the operations research aspects of engineering: Courses in the curriculum for this program include methods of problem identification, linear programming, optimization, queueing, Markov processes, and systems modeling.

Systems Engineering Expands on systems-oriented aspects of engineering: With a curriculum focused on needs identification, cost-benefit analysis, the system life-cycle concept, quality control, logistics planning and control, and forecasting, this program provides students with the analysis and design tools to supplement those learned in their undergraduate engineering program. Engineering Management For engineers who find themselves performing engineering management functions without the benefit of a formal management education:  This program is designed to build upon the mathematical and analytical expertise gained from both a formal engineering education and professional experience. Its curriculum emphasizes the application of the management function in a technological setting while recognizing the basic and applied sciences in engineering systems. Autumn 2017 | The University of Alabama in Huntsville


The ISEEM department offers a Ph.D. in industrial engineering with concentrations in industrial engineering, systems engineering, and engineering management. Graduates are well equipped for roles in academia, government, and industry.

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