Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering Inducts Members, Announces Faculty, Staff Awards

2023 AAIE Inductees
Mia Quain

2023 AAIE Inductees

The Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering, faculty, staff, family and friends gathered on the evening of April 14 to celebrate the induction of 14 new members. This marked the 37th anniversary of the academy. The event was held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Springdale.

The evening was punctuated by the outstanding success of the annual silent auction, which raises funds for scholarships. Donations from the auction totaled $1,400.

New members inducted:

  • Jason Evans, B.S.I.E. 2003; Walmart, - vice president, supply chain acceleration
  • Stephanie Gerard, B.S.I.E. 1998; Western Peaks Logistics - director of sales and business development
  • Dorcedar House, B.S.I.E. 2004; Greenheck Group - general manager, precision coils
  • Jason Imhoff, B.S.I.E. 2005; Sig Sauer - chief technology officer and vice president of business development, ammunition
  • Lauren Lowe, B.S.I.E. 2007; Walmart - senior director, grocery distribution finance
  • Ryan McDaniel, B.S.I.E. 2003; Walmart - vice president, transportation private fleet
  • Chuck Murphy, B.S.I.E. 2005; Boeing - product manager for manufacturing execution systems
  • Elizabeth E. Murphy, B.S.I.E. 2006; Procter & Gamble - customer supply chain director
  • Anthony Le Nguyen, B.S.I.E. 2000; Safe Foods - manager, fabrication and plant engineering
  • Jeffrey Rieske, B.S.I.E. 2006; ZS Associates - associate partner, head of strategy and transformation tech for pharma R&D
  • Robert Seward, B.S.I.E. 2003; Marshalltown - senior director, engineering
  • Luke Shelton, B.S.I.E. 2006; Jaco Sales - president/owner
  • Jessica Smith, B.S.I.E. 1999; J.B. Hunt Transport - engineering and technology optimization manager
  • Don Stanley, B.S.I.E. 1986; Accenture - technology delivery lead senior manager, Oracle supply chain innovation lead

The academy also gives faculty and staff awards for outstanding performance. This year, the Academy Faculty Member of the Year was Professor Haitao Liao. The award recognizes a faculty member who has contributed strongly to the department's mission for outstanding research, teaching and service.

Liao holds the John and Mary Lib White Chair in Systems Integration. He excels in all areas: teaching, research and service, and has a significant impact as a mentor and role model for junior faculty. He is an exceptional scholar. This past year he led the department with eight journal articles and two refereed conference papers published. One of his conference papers was selected as the best paper by an Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers member at the Reliability and Maintainability conference. He has five journal articles accepted for publication and nine others out under review. Liao leads the Arkansas team in a National Science Foundation EPSCOR Track II grant worth $1.4 million. This grant, entitled Artificial Intelligence on Sustainable Energy Infrastructure Network, is part of a larger multi-university effort.

With respect to teaching, Liao taught three graduate courses last year and led the department with his teaching scores. He currently advises four doctoral students and co-advises one other in addition to advising two honors undergraduate students.

Professionally, he serves as an associate editor for two leading reliability journals and is sought after to serve as a judge for best student papers and best student poster presentations by several of professional societies.

Matthew Sparks was the recipient of the Administrative Staff Member of the Year Award. Sparks has been a loyal member of the industrial engineering team for 15 years. He is the head of the technology team and was recently asked to serve the College of Engineering as the director of information technology. Each of these roles requires a great deal of leadership, and Sparks not only exemplifies the qualities of a great leader, but he is also taking steps to further his skills. He was recently nominated for and selected to attend a 10-month prestigious leadership program with colleagues from the U of A campus and five other universities. Just being selected is a testament to his talent.

The Support Staff Member of the Year Award went to Luan Ho. Ho has served the department as a computer support manager since August 2021 but has been a valuable U of A staff member since 2010. Ho has played an integral role in the department's redesign and installation of new audio/visual equipment to ensure the department is giving students and faculty the best possible technology.

The weekend was capped off with the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering annual meeting, followed by the traditional catfish picnic.

The date for next year's Academy Weekend is April 20 and 21, 2024.

Meet the new inductees.


Tamara O. Ellenbecker, website developer
Department of Industrial Engineering

Jennifer P. Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering


Study Finds Discreet Shipping Used to Sell E-Cigarettes to Minors

Researchers at the U of A found businesses on TikTok are circumventing local, state and federal laws that restrict the individual sale of tobacco products.

Pat Johnson Named Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship Recipient

The U of A Libraries’ Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts will host the 2024 Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship celebration on Thursday, June 13.

Monika Szakasits Retiring From the Law Library After 20 Years

Szakasits, associate director of the Young Law Library, is retiring at the end of May after 20 years of service. A reception will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 31, at the Six Pioneers Room of the Law School.

USDA-NIFA Grant Supports Microwave Tech to Zap Weed Seeds

Scientists and engineers with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station are investigating the use of 915 MHz microwaves to neutralize weed seeds underground, including those that are herbicide resistant.

Political Science's Bayram Named a Leader for the International Studies Association

A. Burcu Bayram, professor of international relations for the Department of Political Science, has been elected as the vice president and section chair of the International Studies Association.

News Daily