ISE advances program, curricula, and research

Following a lengthy review process, the Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems officially changed their name to Industrial Systems Engineering this semester. Charles Malmborg, current department head of ISE, stated that this marks an important milestone in a five-year program designed to improve the department. This program began following a 2007 external review of the department, which advised either rebuilding or reorganizing the department.

At the time, Malmborg was the acting department head and worked with former Dean of Engineering Alan Cramb to respond to the external review. “We wanted to better define our role in the School of Engineering,” said Malmborg. The plan was accepted by the President’s office in June of 2007 and in July 2007 Malmborg accepted the position of department head.

According to Malmborg, the goals of the plan were to hire new faculty for the department, increase research expenditures, and overhaul the current curriculum to focus more on industrial engineering. As part of this plan, two new faculty members who specialize in industrial engineering, Jennifer Ryan and Thomas Sharkey, were hired in the past three years. Additionally, there is an open position for a faculty member specializing in infrastructure. According to the ISE 2010 Newsletter, research expenditures have also improved significantly, with over $20 million in new research proposal submissions in the past year.

Reorganization of the department curriculum included reducing the fifteen graduate concentrations to only one concentration. Following review of the course offerings, forty courses have been replaced, revised, or completely removed. Apart from these changes, the department has also seen an increase in undergraduate enrollment from 106 in 2007 up to 140—an all time high—in 2010.

According to Malmborg, faculty involvement and support has been overwhelming throughout the entire process. The decision to change the department name was put to a vote in October and the vote passed with greater than a super majority, which requires at least eight of the current 11 faculty votes. Malmborg stated that the faculty truly work as a team and although they are teaching a full load they are very happy with the changes to the department.

Malmborg expressed hope that the name change will help current and future students better understand what the department does, and stated that he looks forward to seeing more inquiries from current students. In regards to the graduate program, he feels the name change will make the department more attractive for students coming from our peer institutions.

The department change has the full support of the president and the institute. Provost Robert E. Palazzo stated, “I’m really pretty excited that [Malmborg] is really turning this around. The department is really looking like it’s on the upward trajectory now.”