Pitt | Swanson Engineering

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Industrial engineering (IE) is about choices - it is the engineering discipline that offers the most wide-ranging array of opportunities in terms of employment, and it is distinguished by its flexibility. While other engineering disciplines tend to apply skills to very specific areas, Industrial Engineers may be found working everywhere: from traditional manufacturing companies to airlines, from distribution companies to financial institutions, from major medical establishments to consulting companies, from high-tech corporations to companies in the food industry.

View our Spring 2017 course schedules for undergraduate and graduate students.

The BS in industrial engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (http://www.abet.org). To learn more about Industrial Engineering’s Undergraduate Program ABET Accreditation, click here

Our department is now the proud home of Pitt's Center for Industry Studies, which supports multidisciplinary research that links scholars to some of the most important and challenging problems faced by modern industry.
 

Nov
22
2016

ASSE Names IE’s Joel Haight Safety Professional of the Year

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (November 22, 2016) … The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) selected Joel Haight, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, as the recipient of its 2016 Safety Professional of the Year (SPY) award for the Engineering Practice Specialty. The SPY awards recognize ASSE members “who have helped advance the occupational safety, health and environmental profession through exemplary volunteer service to the Society and to their respective Practice Specialty during the ASSE calendar year.” There are 16 categories of practice specialties for the SPY awards, including Engineering, and the ASSE chooses winners from its 37,000 members nationwide.Dr. Haight has been a member of ASSE since 1985. He joined the Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013. In the previous 33 years he served as Chief of the Human Factors Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at their Pittsburgh Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, where he managed a research branch of 35-40 researchers in the areas of ergonomics, cognitive engineering, human behavior and training. Dr. Haight also served for nearly 10 years, as an Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Haight worked as a manager and engineer for the Chevron Corporation for 18 years prior to joining the faculty at Penn State. His research interests include health and safety management systems intervention effectiveness measurement and optimization and human performance measurement in automated control system design He serves as the chair of the research committee for the ASSE foundation and Board of Trustees member. He is the editor in chief and contributing author of Handbook of Loss Prevention Engineering published by J.W. Wiley and Sons in 2013 and the Safety Professionals Handbook published by ASSE in 2012. In addition, he has published nearly 60 refereed journal articles and conference proceedings.Dr. Haight is also an active member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Institute of Industrial Engineers and American Industrial Hygiene Association. He is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Alabama and certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and the American Board of Industrial Hygienists. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Nov
10
2016

Engineering research at Pitt, Air Force, and South Korea shines light on self-powered mobile polymers

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (November 10, 2016) … One of the impediments to developing miniaturized, “squishy” robots is the need for an internal power source that overcomes the power-to-weight ratio for efficient movement. An international group involving Inha University, University of Pittsburgh and the Air Force Research Laboratory has built upon their previous research and identified new materials that directly convert ultraviolet light into motion without the need for electronics or other traditional methods. The research, “Photomotility of Polymers,” was published today in the journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13260). The group includes M. Ravi Shankar, co-author and professor of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Lead author is Jeong Jae Wie, assistant professor of polymer science and engineering at Inha University, South Korea. The experiments were conducted at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Materials & Manufacturing Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, under the direction of Timothy J. White. Other investigations have proposed the use of ambient energy resources such as magnetic fields, acoustics, heat and other temperature variations to avoid adding structures to induce locomotion. However, Dr. Shankar explains that light is more appealing because of its speed, temporal control and the ability to effectively target the mechanical response. For the material, the group zeroed in on monolithic polymer films prepared from a form of liquid crystalline polymer. “Our initial research indicated that these flexible polymers could be triggered to move by different forms of light,” Dr. Shankar explained. “However, a robot or similar device isn’t effective unless you can tightly control its motions. Thanks to the work of Dr. White and his team at AFRL, we were able to demonstrate directional control, as well as climbing motions.” According to Dr. Wie, the “photomotility” of these specific polymers is the result of their spontaneous formation into spirals when exposed to UV light. Controlling the exposure enables a corresponding motion without the use of external power sources attached directly to the polymer itself. “Complex robotic designs result in additional weight in the form of batteries, limb-like structures or wheels, which are incompatible with the notion of a soft or squishy robot,” Dr. Wie said. “In our design, the material itself is the machine, without the need for any additional moving parts or mechanisms that would increase the weight and thereby limit motility and effectiveness.” In addition to simple forward movement, Dr. White and the collaborative team were able to make the polymers climb a glass slide at a 15-degree angle. While the flat polymer strips are small – approximately 15mm long and 1.25mm wide – they can move at several millimeters per second propelled by light. The movement can be perpetual, as long as the material remains illuminated. “The ability for these flexible polymers to move when exposed to light opens up a new ground game in the quest for soft robots,” Dr. Shankar said. “By eliminating the additional mass of batteries, moving parts and other cumbersome devices, we can potentially create a robot that would be beneficial where excess weight and size is a negative, such as in space exploration or other extreme environments.” ###

Nov
8
2016

Pitt researchers collaborate to develop lifesaving "Rescue Stent"

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (November 8, 2016) … According to a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research, more than 80 percent of people who suffer traumatic injury to a major artery or vein die from rapid blood loss. The window for saving lives of people with other potentially fatal afflictions may be hours, days or even weeks, but the outcome of a non-compressible hemorrhage within the torso is determined in mere minutes.The United States Department of Defense has granted $2.5 million in funds for a four-year research collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery. The research team will develop a removable, collapsible and biocompatible trauma stent to prevent internal bleeding from the aorta. The “Rescue Stent” will have both military and civilian applications and could greatly reduce fatalities caused by gunshot wounds, stabbings and other related torso injuries.Dr. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, will serve as principal investigator and provide clinical insight and lead the testing. Joining Tillman on the study are three engineering professors from Pitt’s Swanson School: Youngjae Chun, Sung Kwon Cho and William Clark. Parthasarathy Thirumala, co-director of the Center of Clinical Neurophysiology at UPMC, will also assist the study as a co-investigator to ensure the Rescue Stent avoids the paralysis associated with other current approaches for hemorrhage control.“If there is internal bleeding, applying pressure to the wound won’t stop it,” said Chun. The current treatment involves essentially placing a balloon somewhat randomly inside the patient’s artery to block blood loss. However, use of the balloon can result in organ failure and paralysis because it causes a complete stoppage of blood flow. In about four minutes, we can implant our stent, redirect blood flow and stabilize a patient.”Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering, will be responsible for designing, modeling and fabricating the stent. He will investigate various design methods and advanced manufacturing processes to create functional rescue stents, including geometric/stress analyses, micro laser welding, thermal treatment, mechanical-chemical joining processes and biocompatible surface treatments. Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, will work on the fabrication of radio-frequency identification (RFID) and vital sign monitoring sensors. The RFID sensor—which is wireless, inexpensive and more portable than the equipment used for internal positioning in hospitals—will allow Cho to position the device inside the body without X-rays or ultrasound imaging.“An RFID sensor can be used to make sure we position the stent exactly at the point of trauma without restricting blood flow from the undamaged blood passageways,” said Cho. “It is the same technology used in a grocery store scanner; and an emergency room physician, general surgeon or resident can easily track the stent to ensure it’s properly placed.” William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, will participate in the sensor development and take the lead on their integration and data analysis, while working with Cho to make sure the sensors can be identified and interpreted once inside the body.“In addition to accurately positioning the stent, the sensors we are developing will allow us to monitor the patient’s vitals,” said Clark. “The individual placing the stent will have a clear idea of what’s going on inside the patient and can drastically open the window of time the patient has to survive before being treated by a vascular surgeon.” “The intersection of medicine, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering has been very important to the development of the Rescue Stent,” added Tillman. “It requires a great deal of engineering expertise to ensure the stent is compatible with the needs of the medical community. The interdisciplinary environment at Pitt lends itself to these kind of collaborations in a really spectacular way.” ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Sep
9
2016

Industrial Engineering's Ravi Shankar receives back-to-back NSF grants to study heat- and light-responsive polymers

Industrial

PITTSBURGH (September 9, 2016) A University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University research team was awarded $750,000 in back-to-back grants from the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation to study how novel polymers can react to heat and light, creating the potential for self-powered robotic devices.  The first project supported by the Mechanics of Materials and Structures Program - “ Collaborative Research: Using Boundaries to Create and Control Pathways for Photomechanical Actuation” - will focus on using materials that change shape when exposed to light. In a class of polymers custom-designed at Pitt, light drives structural transformation to generate mechanical work via Photomechanical Actuation.  “Devices made of these materials can be operated remotely without the need of wiring, circuitry or mechanical contacts,” said Ravi Shankar, associate professor of industrial engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Currently, the mechanical force generated by these materials is small and the shape change is difficult to control. We will work to develop new mechanisms to generate fast response times and significant amount of force. Potential applications are diverse and may include light-operated microsurgical tools, display technologies integrated with touch feedback and robotics that harness light for manipulation.” Shankar will lead the experimental work in collaboration with Kaushik Dayal, professor of civil engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, who will develop the theoretical models. This team will also work on the second project - “ GOALI/Collaborative Research: Autonomous Thermomechanical Fabrication of 3D Structures using Heat-Responsive Polymers” - which will focus on self-assembly of complex structures in a hands-free manner. “Traditionally, additive, subtractive or forming processes are used to create macroscopic geometries in polymers. Here, we embed a design at the molecular level and then exposing the material to heat spontaneously generates the desired geometry. No other physical intervention is needed to manufacture the shapes, including fairly complex ones,” said Shankar. Like light, heat is another non-contact stimulus that offers applications to many technological fields. The Grant Opportunity for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) award is supported by the Manufacturing Machines and Equipment program and will involve partnership with PPG Industries. The team at Pitt will develop new polymers and molecular patterning tools and collaborate with CMU to develop a new framework for self-assembly of active structures at macroscopic scales. ### Image above: A light-operated microrobot that translates by leaping when irradiated with light. The ability to exploit mechanical instabilities in light responsive polymers can enable such devices.
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
22
2016

IE's Mary Besterfield-Sacre captures Women in Engineering award

Industrial

DENVER (June 22, 2016) Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), has announced its 2016 Award Winners, presented at the WEPAN 2016 Change Leader Forum in Broomfield, CO. Mary Besterfield-Sacre, the Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellow of Industrial Engineering and Director of the Engineering Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, received the WEPAN Betty Vetter Research Award. Dr.  Besterfield-Sacre was recognized for research which has made a significant contribution to an understanding of issues related to women in engineering. The prestigious annual WEPAN Awards honor key individuals, programs, and corporations. WEPAN’s recognition is based on extraordinary service, significant achievement, and model programs that are aligned with WEPAN's purpose to be a catalyst for transforming culture in engineering education and the workforce to promote the inclusion and success of diverse communities of women. About the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) WEPAN is a network of thought- and change-leaders from institutions, organizations and agencies that uses research-based knowledge and strategies to create an sustain inclusive, equitable cultures in engineering and works to develop a richly diverse and innovative engineering workforce. WEPAN’s network connects over 1,000 leaders from nearly 200 universities, colleges, community colleges, government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and non-profit organizations working to increase participation, retention and success of women and other underrepresented groups in engineering from engineering college through executive and academic leadership roles. WEPAN’s campus-based members guide the college and career preparation of 60% of women engineering students. Although women make up 48% of engineering-ready high school graduates in the U.S., the percentage of engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to women in 2013 was 19.1%. The percentage of women BSE recipients has remained at or below 20% for more than ten years. Biological and agricultural sciences and veterinary medicine graduate equal numbers of women and men. Women made up 14.5% of the engineering faculty in 2013, representing steady, but inadequate growth over the last decade. WEPAN’s 2016 Change Leader Forum: Four Frames for the Future, the organization’s flagship event, included opportunities for ideas, training, research and best practices—all focused on building cultures that advance full inclusion of women and underrepresented groups in engineering. This important conference for learning and engaging new and expert women in engineering advocates in dialogue was held June 14-16, 2016 in Broomfield, CO. ###
Author: C. Diane Matt, CAE, WEPAN Executive Director and CEO

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