Recent Industrial Engineering Graduate Focuses Research on Inland Waterway Disruption Response
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jingjing Tong, who recently earned a doctorate in industrial engineering at the University of Arkansas, focused her research on the major role that inland waterways play in freight transportation in the United States.
Specifically, Tong examined the inland waterway disruption response.
The disruption in those waterways — which include major rivers such as the Mississippi and Arkansas — due to a natural disaster or manmade event may lead to significant economic and societal loss, Tong said.
She and her dissertation adviser, Heather Nachtmann, found there were few operational guidelines for how to respond in the event of an inland waterway disruption, so they developed the Cargo Prioritization and Terminal Allocation Problem model, which does exactly that.
Nachtmann, professor of industrial engineering and associate dean of research of the College of Engineering, serves as director of the Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center. The center was created last fall with a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We should have a model and a model output that can inform the inland waterway authorities of which terminal the barge cargos should be offloaded at and which turn the barge cargos should take at the specific terminal,” Tong said. “The model can significantly reduce the total value loss of the waterway disruption.”
Tong has been recognized for her research on multiple occasions.
She was a Best Paper finalist at the American Society for Engineering Management International Conference last year, was a first place winner in the University of Arkansas’ From Abstract to Contract graduate-student poster competition, was awarded Homeland Security Track Best Paper at the Institute of Industrial Engineers Conference in 2011 and twice received a Gilbreth Memorial Fellowship.
Tong attributes much of her success to Nachtmann’s assistance.
“Research-wise she provided me with really good ideas, in terms of my dissertation topic and what contributions should be included. When I came across a problem or got stuck somewhere, she always found good solutions for me,” Tong said. “She also has some really good connections with both waterway authorities and industries, so I was able to get a lot of valuable and real data.”
She emphasized that Nachtmann’s support was critical not only to her research, but to her job search as well.
“My adviser really cares about my career,” she said. “She helped me to build my resume and helped me to get an opportunity to teach a course as an instructor, which assured me that being a teacher is something I’m really interested in. She always gave me really good suggestions and encouraged me to stick to my goals. Honestly, I’m very, very lucky to have met her.”
Tong has been hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Technology at Southeast Missouri State University, effective Aug. 1.
Tong plans to continue her research with Nachtmann at her new institution. Her current research provides inland waterway disruption response models to the waterway authorities, but she now wants to focus on developing models for private owners, such as barge carriers or shippers. Southeast Missouri State University is perched on the banks of the Mississippi River, which makes it an ideal location for her study.
“We think in some circumstances the private owners may have the flexibility to make the decisions by themselves. We want to develop other disruption responses for these private owners with the consideration of their own benefits,” she said.
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