Industrial Engineering Department Celebrates 65th Anniversary

John L. Imhoff and Lillian Gilbreth
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John L. Imhoff and Lillian Gilbreth

In 1949 plans were announced to offer the Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. At the time, students working on a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Management were given the opportunity to take additional courses to qualify for the new degree. The first students to graduate with the degree graduated in 1950 and 1951.

John Imhoff was hired as the first head of the program in 1951. Coming from the industrial engineering option in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Minnesota, he had coordinated the program and was keen to see the program at the University of Arkansas succeed.

With the strong leadership of Imhoff in the 1950s and 1960s, the student chapters of AIIE and Alpha Pi Mu were initiated. The program played a leadership role on the national level of the professional societies. And in 1966 with Imhoff as president of the Alpha Pi Mu society, the national conference was held at the University of Arkansas. It was attended by the acknowledged "Mother of IE," Lillian Gilbreth.

In January 1987, the students, faculty and staff of the College of Engineering began the spring semester in a brand new building: Bell Engineering Center. Bell provided space for four of the college's departments, including Industrial Engineering, as well as plenty of room for teaching and labs.

Recently, the department invited alumni to return to the department for a Pig-Out Party celebrating the 65th anniversary. The Imhoff Study Center, named for founding department head, John L. Imhoff, was fittingly the back drop for the event. Imhoff is fondly remembered by alumni, faculty and staff alike as a passionate industrial engineer and teacher. Many of those attending commented on the changes the department has undergone in the years since its humble beginnings.

Today the department has 236 undergraduate students and 52 graduate students (16 master's students and 36 doctoral students). Currently there are 17 tenure/tenure-track faculty members along with four non-tenure track faculty members. Through the years, the outstanding leadership of the Industrial Engineering Department has led to the hiring of strong-performing award-winning faculty, making the department a rising star among its cohorts in academia.


Tamara O. Ellenbecker, media specialist
Industrial Engineering


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