Industrial Engineering Students Recognized With Department Awards and Scholarships

Industrial Engineering Students Recognized With Department Awards and Scholarships
Mia Quain

The Department of Industrial Engineering recognizes students each spring at the annual Industrial Engineering Student Awards Banquet. The faculty, students, staff and alumni met together at the Fayetteville Town Center on the evening of April 11 for this annual event.

The department handed out its most prestigious awards, and the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering awarded scholarships. This year, the value of scholarships provided by members of the academy was $162,500. The department is fortunate to award an additional $45,177 in other scholarships and $30,000 in Imhoff Global Studies Scholarships, bringing total scholarship dollars to $237,677 for 91 deserving students.

Departmental Awards

The Outstanding Senior and Outstanding Graduate Student awards are intended to recognize the top industrial engineering undergraduate and graduate students. The winners are selected by faculty vote based on excellence in academic performance, leadership, service, collegiality, ethics and dedication. The Graduate Research Award is also selected by faculty vote and recognizes the graduate student who made the most valuable contribution to departmental research efforts in 2023.

The honor of Outstanding Graduate Student for 2023 went to Maryam Kheirandish, advised by associate professor Shengfan Zhang. Kheirandish has conducted research in statistical learning and stochastic decision making with an emphasis on healthcare applications. During her time as a Ph.D. student, she has published one journal article and submitted another that is under review. Her work has received multiple recognitions, including winning the 2023 INFORMS Minority Issues Forum poster competition and being named a finalist of the 2023 IISE Data Analytics and Information System Division data challenge competition. She was also selected as a recipient of the IISE John L. Imhoff Scholarship. In addition to her research, she has served as an instructor for the Applied Probability and Statistics for Engineers II course and served as a teaching assistant on multiple occasions. She also served our department as INFORMS chapter president for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The 2023 Graduate Research Award was presented to Farid Hashemian. With his adviser, professor Haitao Liao, Hashemian has been conducting research in data-driven decision making and solving real-world problems using machine learning, data analysis and optimization. His work focuses on network reliability analysis and maintenance decision making with applications to critical infrastructures, including the inland waterway transportation system. In 2023, Hashemian published papers in the Proceedings of the 2023 Winter Simulation Conference and the 2023 Reliability and Maintainability Symposium. He received both the 2023 Stan Ofsthun Award from the Society of Reliability Engineers and the 2023 Thomas L. Fagan, Jr. Student Paper Award at the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium, and he was a finalist for the 2023 IISE Data Analytics and Information Systems Division data challenge competition.

The Outstanding Senior Award is intended to recognize the most outstanding undergraduate industrial engineering student who graduated in fall 2023 or is graduating in either spring or summer 2024.

This year's Outstanding Senior is Blake Sooter, who has compiled an impressive variety of achievements during his time on campus. He was selected as the ArcBest Outstanding First Year Industrial Engineering Student in 2021 and shortly after began working as an undergraduate research assistant for the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies. His research accomplishments include receiving multiple Honors College Research Grants, publishing in the IISE conference proceedings, and winning the Undergraduate Research Award from the IISE Operations Research Division. He has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for over two years, twice being recognized as the department's Outstanding Undergraduate TA. He served as an IISE Student Chapter officer for three years, most recently as this year's IISE Student Chapter president, and was a key contributor to planning and hosting this year's IISE South Central University Regional Conference. Outside of the College of Engineering, Sooter has completed multiple internships at Procter and Gamble.

Honors Graduates

The Honors Graduate Award is intended to recognize industrial engineering students who are on track to complete all honors requirements, including honors coursework and an honors thesis, by the end of spring 2024. Associate professor Kelly Sullivan, honors program coordinator, presented the awards. The following students completed an honors thesis:

  • Lathan Gregg: Evaluating North American Professional Sports League Season Formats Using Simulation, advised by University Professor Richard Cassady.
  • Joshua Jowers: Using Convolutional Neural Networks for Autonomous Drone Navigation, advised by Professor and Department Head Chase Rainwater.
  • Ashwin Narayan: Quantifying Infrastructure Criticality for an Inland Waterway Transportation Network using Agent-Based Simulation, advised by Professor Haitao Liao.
  • Blake Sooter: Open Source Optimization for Green Last Mile Delivery and Other Applications, advised by Rainwater.

Industry-Sponsored Awards

Each year, the ArcBest Corporation sponsors the Outstanding Freshman Award. This award is presented to one first-year engineering student who has declared industrial engineering as a major and is selected by the faculty and staff of the First-Year Engineering Program.

Sam Jeffcoat and Abigail Harris from ArcBest along with Teaching Associate Professor Tish Pohl presented the award to Britton Adair.

Corporate sponsor Hytrol Conveyors presents the annual Hytrol Challenge Award, given each year to the best team in a competition in the transportation logistics or facility logistics course. Will Mangrum from Hytrol and Tish Pohl presented the award to Jacob Holmes and Rachel Thomas.

Student-Sponsored Awards

The Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award is intended to recognize a faculty member for their contributions to students. The award is sponsored by the INFORMS student group. Students nominate the faculty, and the nominations are evaluated by external faculty members. The Outstanding Faculty Advisor was professor Haitao Liao. The award was presented by doctoral student Fatih Cengil and associate professor Shengfan Zhang.

The student group Alpha Pi Mu sponsors the Sophomore Scholar Award and the Imhoff Distinguished Service Award. The Sophomore Scholar Award goes to a new industrial engineering sophomore to recognize outstanding academic achievement. The recipient is chosen with input from faculty who teach sophomore-level courses. This year's recipient was Lauren Jones.

The Imhoff Distinguished Service Award goes to an Alpha Pi Mu member to recognize their service and contributions to the Arkansas Alpha Pi Mu Chapter. Nominations are solicited from Alpha Pi Mu members, and Alpha Pi Mu members vote on the recipient. The recipient was Karleigh Eoff.

The student chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers sponsors the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant, the Backbreaker Award, the Best Teacher Award and the Resident Raconteur Award.

The recipients were:

  • Outstanding Undergraduate TA: Blake Sooter
  • Outstanding Graduate TA: Hasan Md Shahriar
  • Backbreaker Award: Instructor Brandon Crisel
  • Best Teacher: University Professor Richard Cassady
  • Resident Raconteur Award: University Professor Richard Cassady

About the Department of Industrial Engineering: The Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas was founded in 1950, led by department head John L. Imhoff who believed deeply in the global impact of industrial engineering. Today, the department averages over 200 undergraduate students and over 40 doctoral and master's students. In addition, the department has three online master's degrees: the Master of Science in Operations Management, Master of Science in Engineering Management and Master of Science in Operations Analytics. These three programs alone enroll over 600 students each academic year. To learn more about the Department of Industrial Engineering please visit our website.



Tamara O. Ellenbecker, website developer
Department of Industrial Engineering

Jennifer P. Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering


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