2012 News Archive

When global understanding begins in the home

Barbara Simmons had worked in Lehigh’s office of communications for 15 years when she learned of an opportunity to get to know international students on a personal level.

It was the late 1980s. The Council for International Students/Scholars Hospitality (CISH) was asking members of the faculty and staff to consider hosting the students for holiday meals.

Over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, CISH reasoned, when most American students return home, students and scholars from other countries might need a “home away from home” in the Lehigh Valley.

“I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity,” said Simmons, who is now semi-retired. “The students were a blessing to us, but I think we gained far more from them than maybe they did from us.”

CISH was founded in the 1980s by retired professors. It disbanded in the 1990s but was revived two years ago by the Office of International Affairs.

Impromptu culinary exchanges

Since then, CISH has promoted strong ties between international students and Americans. There have been instances when an American family provides a classic Italian meal one night and Chinese students conjure up their own cuisine the next night. While the students experience American culture, Americans gain insight into the customs of a vastly different society.

“You can read about a culture and travel to a country, but you will always be a step away,” said Simmons. “Once you’re invited into a home, then you share the culture.”

Elcin Cetinkaya, a graduate student in industrial engineering, serves as a representative for international students.

“I have made lists of what students need when they first come to the United States,” said Cetinkaya, who is from Turkey. “I’ve also asked students to talk about what we should know about life in Bethlehem before we arrive."

“To this day, I am still impressed by how helpful all of the CISH members have been.”

Muriel Pense, an original member of CISH, said that providing services to international students helps them acculturate to the U.S. more easily.

“When students leave home, they leave their support groups behind. CISH decided that they needed volunteers to take care of life needs,” she said.

A need for more volunteers

CISH is made up of Lehigh students and members of the local community. Volunteers help international students store belongings over breaks. They drive them to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store, or simply provide a home-cooked meal.

Seven or eight churches are also involved in the program, said Pense.

“For a fall foliage tour, one church took students on a trip to the mountains, where they had their first true camping experience. Another church invited internationals to join them for a Thanksgiving dinner and taught them how this American tradition began.”

Gene Mater, housing chair for CISH, said the program can lead to “unexpected friendships."

“Sometimes you meet someone and just hit it off. A ride provided to the grocery store of or mall can lead to a lifetime friendship,” he said.

Stacy Burger, liaison between international students and community members, said CISH is looking for more volunteers.

“We are in the process of getting more volunteers and would really love to tap into our undergraduate and graduate domestic student population,” she said. “We would also like more community members to join.”

For more information, visit their web site or email inCISH@lehigh.edu.

To read the full article please visit the Lehigh News web site.

Article by Angela Farren ’13.

Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Lehigh University pavilion symbolizes a cultural link to China

Although it may not be apparent, Lehigh University has close connections with China, dating back to 1879 when the first students from that country enrolled at the school. Around that time, groups of Chinese youth were sent to the United States to learn the secrets of the West with a focus on technology.

Some of the first Chinese who came and then returned home helped modernize China with the introduction of the first railroads, said Norman Girardot, professor of religion studies at Lehigh. While the Chinese influence can been seen today in Lehigh's faculty and academic curriculums, it doesn't stop there. Many second- and third-generation Chinese people live in the Bethlehem community. However, cultural roots are still very important to them.

In South Side Bethlehem, a new structure popped up. Lehigh students built a Chinese pavilion as part of a class, with a goal to merge the Bethlehem and Chinese worlds. While introducing Chinese culture to the South Side community may seem random, it is rooted in the prosperous Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem that encourages Chinese to come to the city. Girardot, who is co-director of Lehigh's Chinese pavilion project, said the Chinese are the world's greatest gamblers.

So the pavilion serves as a bridge between two worlds, South Side Bethlehem and the Chinese culture. The pavilion is one of the several endeavors to educate Lehigh students through hands-on learning as part of the university's Chinese Bridge Project.

Constance Cook, co-director of the project and professor of Chinese at Lehigh, expressed the need for students to engage with matters not by reading a book but by physically engaging with the subject: "It's basically encouraging students to experience China on a personal level that's not just sitting in the classroom. By creating something with your hands and your mind, you are integrating deeply certain principles that you've learned."

In addition to constructing physical structures such as the pavilion and a bridge on Lehigh's campus, the program sends students to China over the summer to focus on the relationship between traditional and contemporary Chinese architecture. Recently on a trip to Shanghai, students considered the need for skyscrapers due to the confined space in the city and also the importance of maintaining traditional elements in the architecture.

The pavilion "is not just a one-off attempt to wow people," said Girardot. "This is an educational project. I mean what these people are learning both about traditional Chinese architecture and about working in a group."

Brandon Onopa, a junior majoring in integrated degree in engineering, arts and sciences with a concentration in industrial engineering and Chinese, said that through the project he has learned the importance of having different cultures in his life and being able to accept the differences. He said he hopes the pavilion will be able to merge the two distinct communities of Bethlehem and Chinese people.

Onopa is not alone. Since 2003 when plans for the pavilion started, a diverse group of students majoring in fields from engineering to architecture has contributed to the construction of the pavilion. Those students participated in experiential learning, teaching them about Chinese architecture, culture and community integration.

The pavilion not only signifies a new space for Bethlehem community members to collect, it also represents a growth in cultural knowledge and acceptance. Integration of different cultures is happening in our backyard, creating opportunity for a more global community.

To read the full article please visit the Morning Call web site.

Article by Courtney Buchanan ’13.

Posted Friday, November 30, 2012


Timely gift promotes health-related research

Charles S. Strauch ’57, ’15GP, who helped establish Lehigh's award-winning Integrated Product Development (IPD) program, recently made a generous gift to the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science (RCEAS).

Strauch, a member of Lehigh’s Engineering Advisory Council, and his wife, Nan, have committed $1 million to support the engineering college’s Facilities Renewal Initiative and the further development of Lehigh’s integrated educational programs.

A portion of the Strauchs’ gift will help fund the creation of the new Health Research Hub (HRH) in Iacocca Hall, which will serve as a collaborative environment for Lehigh researchers and will also promote cross-disciplinary innovation in bioengineering.

S. David Wu, RCEAS dean and Iacocca Professor, said the establishment of the HRH, together with the Strauchs’ support, will improve Lehigh’s ability to address the grand challenge of health and healthcare, an integral part of Lehigh’s strategic plan.

“This gift is a critical investment in Lehigh’s research portfolio,” said Wu. “Cutting-edge facilities such as the HRH allow us to recruit leading faculty capable of integrating research and teaching in an impactful way. Students, faculty, and staff will work together to explore solutions to some of the most important challenges facing society.”

Major renovation to the space has begun, and the new research hub is expected to be completed by late spring 2013.

The Strauchs also intend to support Lehigh’s integrated programs, which draw engineering closer to related pursuits in areas such as business, medicine, law, and the arts. These programs, said Wu, enroll one out of four Lehigh engineering students and help prepare them to fill a vital role in the emerging global workplace.

“Over the years,” he said, “the value of a Lehigh education has been founded upon our legacy of producing well-rounded problem solvers. These programs build upon that proud heritage and help us shape tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.”

In Lehigh’s IPD program, which was launched in 1994, juniors, seniors and graduate students in engineering, business and the design arts work in teams with industrial sponsors to design and make new products. IPD student teams have won 11 grants from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance. The program has been lauded by The New York Times and U.S. News and World Report. In 2006, it received NCIIA’s Olympus Award for curriculum innovation.

The Strauchs have been steadfast advocates of the engineering college. Charles Strauch graduated from Lehigh with a B.S. in industrial engineering and has served on the Engineering Advisory Council since 2008.

A long-time philanthropic supporter of Lehigh, Strauch has invested in many areas of the university and was recognized for his service to the university earlier this year when he received the LUAA Alumni Award. He led the fundraising efforts for the renovations to the Wilbur Powerhouse, which serves as a home to innovative student project teams for the IPD and other integrated programs.

Last April, the Strauchs sponsored a campus visit from 700 second graders and 200 teachers and parents of New York City’s Success Academy Charter Schools, part of a program intended to instill in young students an interest in attending college.

To read the full article please visit the Lehigh news web site.

Article by Chris Larkin.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012


'Kings of Tailgates' honor friend, former teammate

With an extravagant buffet of gourmet food, hundreds of Lehigh community members and a large flag bearing its name waving through the air, the "Kings of Tailgates" is not the average hamburger-and-hotdog event.

At home Lehigh football games, "The Kings of Tailgates," founded by Robert "Gus" Gustafson, president of Lehigh's class of '74, and twin brothers Bob and Dan Mulholland, whom were also members of Lehigh '74, hold themed tailgates where they serve an extraordinary buffet to on average more than 100 Lehigh alumni, administrators, faculty and students. They also travel to Lafayette and host the tailgate when the Lehigh-Lafayette football game is in Easton, Pa. Dan Mulholland said he expects 250 people to come out for the tailgate tomorrow.

"We have about a 30-foot-long buffet, and it's all kinds of grilled food, salads and sandwiches," said Dan Mulholland.

The theme of the tailgate delegates the main course of food, which depends on Lehigh's opponent's mascot.

"We grill the opponent's mascot," Gustafson said.

For the Lehigh-Lafayette game tomorrow, they'll serve 15 grilled turkeys at a dentist's office they rent out for use of the parking lot and lavatories.

"For Lafayette we have turkeys, connoting both the facts that they're a bunch of turkeys, and it's around Thanksgiving," Mulholland said. "We try to tie each week's theme to the game. That way people that go know what you are going to have each week."

Before they were "Kings of Tailgates" Gustafson and the Mulhollands started having normal tailgates in 1980, when Lehigh still played at Taylor Stadium.

"Our tailgates started the classical way," Mulholland said. "We did them around Taylor Stadium, and there were about 10 of us who would go."

According to Mulholland, the tailgates grew in two ways. One was by notifying friends, classmates, faculty and students over the years. The second was when he hosted a tailgate in 1998 to honor the 25th anniversary of Lehigh's 1973 Lambert Cup Champion football team, which he played for and earned All-American honors for his play as an offensive tackle.

The "Kings of Tailgates" name came in honor of Roger McFillin, '74, who passed away from a heart attack on his 50th birthday in 2002. McFillin was their classmate, friend and Mulholland's Lehigh football teammate in 1973 and former co-worker at Mallinckrodt Baker.

"[Roger McFillin and I] left Lehigh, we got a job at the same company, and at the end of the day I was president and he was vice-president of the company," Mulholland said.

"We worked together for 28 years and went to college for four," said Mulholland. "When he died I kind of said to myself it's a shame everyone's going to forget six months from now. How can I keep the tradition in his name alive?"

To commemorate his memory, the Mulhollands and Gustafson decided to expand their weekly tailgates to be something much bigger. The "Kings of Tailgates" was born.

"The 'Kings of Tailgates' said at that time what we're going to do is upgrade the tailgates even more to make them more attractive," Mulholland said. "We're going to use themes to make them more interesting and more fun and were going to ask for a contribution in a box. Ultimately the contributions we would raise would be donated to Lehigh in the name of Roger McFillin."

The donations they receive go to support Lehigh's football team.

Year after year, the "Kings of Tailgates and Friends of Lehigh Football (in honor of Roger McFillin, '74)" are listed on the first page of the "Honor Roll" under "Hall of Fame" donors in the Lehigh Athletics Annual Report, which constitutes donations of $10,000 or more.

"We had to do something substantive because if we only give a low amount, [McFillin's] name won't be on page one," Mulholland said. "It'll be down there on page four. This way it's at the top."

In 2011, the "Kings of Tailgates and Friends of Lehigh Football (in honor of Roger McFillin, '74)" raised $16,000 to support Lehigh football. Since its inception, Gustafson and Mulholland said they've raised more than $75,000 to support the team.

"We built the thing up and we've communicated, we've got people really involved they know the theme, they know where we are," Gustafson said. "We've got good food, music and we've got a good cause."

In 2011, Lehigh football presented the "Kings of Tailgates" with the Golden Circle Award in the form of a real Lehigh football helmet in a case, which recognizes the group's unyielding support to the squad. The team put McFillin's number, 55, on the back of the helmet.

Both alumni keep the helmet in the Enterprise Systems Center in Mohler Laboratory at Lehigh, where Gustafson and Mulholland work a managing director and senior fellow, respectively. Gustafson commented on the importance of the tailgates to the Lehigh community.

"You'll never have to worry about where am I going to go, where am I going to find them," Gustafson said. "You're going to go to the Kings of Tailgates have a lot of fun and see a lot of people that you know."

To read the full article please visit the Brown and White news web site.

Article by Connor Tait ’14.

Posted Friday, November 16, 2012


Lehigh wins award from economic development association

Lehigh’s efforts to develop skilled leaders were recently lauded at the University Economic Development Association’s (UEDA) annual summit in Chattanooga, Tenn. Lehigh won the award in the category of “Talent Development” for the project “Developing Analytics & Operations Research Practitioners.”

The project was submitted by Lehigh’s Enterprise Systems Center (ESC) and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

In addition, John B. Ochs, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics and director of Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) program, discussed Lehigh’s new master’s program in Technical Entrepreneurship on a “Models for Student Entrepreneurship” panel at the annual summit.

“This award is truly a testament to the work our students have been doing with companies on an array of projects,” said William D. Michalerya, associate vice president of government relations and economic development at Lehigh, and president of UEDA. “Students really help these companies, and they can take a fresh look at a problem and offer valuable insight.”

For the project, Lehigh’s ESC collaborated with the industrial and systems engineering department to employ advanced predictive analytics to solve a problem brought to their attention by a financial firm looking for a solution. The company invested in developing a new financial model, one that could help with collecting outstanding loans, while simultaneously assessing the likelihood of future payments. In addition, students benefitted from a layered mentoring experience with experienced industry executives, many of whom are Lehigh alumni.

Founded in 1973 by Emory Zimmers, professor of industrial and systems engineering, the ESC at Lehigh is one of the longest-running analytics research centers in the country.

"A core mission of our university is to offer dynamic learning experiences and we are proud to offer these opportunities for our students. In addition, we are always appreciative of alumni who support efforts with student involvement in research center programs and encourage our Academic Initiative for Leadership Development," said Zimmers.

H. Robert Gustafson Jr. ’74, the managing director of the ESC, said the award reflects the opportunity Lehigh students have to solve real problems for companies.

“The companies we work with benefit and can see how the students are growing as learners and practitioners. It’s extremely rewarding to see the impact this program has on students’ educational experience,” said Gustafson.

An extended run of success

Lehigh has had strong showings at the UEDA’s annual awards summit in recent years. In 2011, Lehigh’s Enterprise Systems Center was recognized by UEDA for its Sustainable Manufacturing program, in which student teams collaborate with experienced consultants to help large and small manufacturing companies.

In 2010, Lehigh won UEDA’s Award for Excellence in Technology Commercialization for its entrepreneurship programs. That year, UEDA highlighted EcoTech Marine, a company founded by Lehigh alumni Tim Marks ’04 and Pat Clasen ’04 while they were undergraduates in the IPD program.

Ochs, who has served as the director of Lehigh’s IPD program since 1999, and said that Lehigh’s commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration is a core principle of the IPD program and of the new technical entrepreneurship master’s program.

“We’re trying to encourage students from anywhere on campus or in the country with an undergraduate degree interested in developing a product or starting a company to do it,” said Ochs. “Lehigh has a track record of students developing successful projects. When you have a group of people from different disciplines come together, you get a unique combination of insights that allows creation to occur in a whole new way.”

“We often have students come back and say they extremely well equipped to start their jobs after graduation because of the work they’re doing here,” said Gustafson.

To read the full article please visit the Lehigh news web site.

Article by Karl Brisseaux ’11.

Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012


Groups collaborate for food drive

The National Society of Leadership and Success is teaming up with the Bethlehem Women’s Club and hosting a food drive that will take place across campus to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley.

The food drive is set to be over Friday, however, Professor Emory Zimmers of the industrial engineering department said the drive might continue through Nov. 2. The President of the Society of Leadership and Success, Austin Orr ’14, said the idea for the drive came from the society’s faculty advisor, Zimmers, whose wife is the president of the Bethlehem Women’s Club.

Food donation bins have been located in the Lehigh Bookstore, the STEPS lobby, Packard Lab lobby, the second floor of the University Center, Mohler Lab, Taylor Gym and the Alumni Memorial Building. Non-perishable food items, such as canned goods, dry pasta and cereals, are examples of acceptable donations for the food drive that will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley.

The Second Harvest Food Bank provides food and grocery products to more than 63,000 individuals each month through a network of more than 200 member agencies, according to the organization’s website. These member agencies include emergency pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, childcare rehabilitation and senior citizen centers. Linda Zimmers, president of the Bethlehem Women’s Club, said that this event is being advertised through posters on campus and the club also has envelopes made up so students and faculty can make monetary donations.

“Another good reason for having the drive in October is because later in November and December is when Second Harvest Food Bank gets a lot of food,” Zimmers said. “This food drive will kick the holiday season off earlier if you will.”

Orr said that the toughest part of this event is advertising it enough so students become involved in this important community service event. Orr said that he and the members of the National Society of Success and Leadership are hoping that a lot of students will become involved and give back to their community.

“If the event is advertised well and the Greek houses were involved, I think that this event could be a big success,” said Nicole Montalbano ’15. “More importantly, we have to realize that many people don’t have a constant supply of food, so many people are dependent on donations so it’s up to us to help them out.”

Erin Lidl ’15, said that if the event is well advertised, a food drive is a great thing. However, it’s making sure that people are knowledgeable of these types of events that can often be difficult.

“For those who can’t feed their families, it can be really stressful and food banks are a great idea because all it takes is emptying out your pantry to help someone in need,” Lidl said.

Orr said that all of the food collected from this drive will be distributed by the Second Harvest Food Bank throughout the Lehigh Valley community to those in need.

“A lot of people are getting involved in this event, and we hope that Lehigh can have as much success as possible,” Orr said.

Article by Kelly Mueller ’15. Courtesy of the Brown and White.

Posted Friday, October 27, 2012


'Today in America' educates public about industrial engineering and IIE

The Institute of Industrial Engineers was recently featured on the nationally syndicated TV show "Today in America" as part of the show's American Industry series.

The show, hosted by Terry Bradshaw, regularly features stories and firsthand insights from entrepreneurs and leaders within various industries and educates viewers on a wide variety of emerging concepts, suitable for families, businesses, lifestyles and financial futures.

This video from "Today in America" informs viewers about the field of industrial engineering and explores the important role that IIE plays in the industry.

Posted Friday, October 19, 2012


National leaders meet to discuss manufacturing innovation

A group of national leaders seeking to make the United States more globally competitive chose Lehigh for their venue this week when they met to discuss manufacturing and innovation.

“Leveraging the Talent Development Process to Drive Innovation,” a two-day conference that began Thursday, is sponsored by the Washington D.C.-based Council on Competitiveness, the Allentown, Pa.-based company Air Products, and Lehigh.

The conference was co-hosted by Lehigh President Alice P. Gast and IE alum, John E. McGlade ’76, ’80G president and CEO of Air Products and a member of Lehigh’s board of trustees. Both serve on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness.

As a member of the council, President Gast worked on the report “Make: An American Manufacturing Movement.” She was advised by the ISE department about manufacturing for this report.

“It is important to note that we have the best higher education educational system in the world,” McGlade said in his opening remarks. “We must recognize the need to reinvest in innovation, and we must work together to make the changes in curriculum at all levels that allow us to continue to develop the most skilled workforce in the world.”

To read the full article please visit the Lehigh news web site.

Article by Karl Brisseaux.

Picture by Li Wang.

Posted Friday, October 5, 2012


Fabrizio receives DeSales University Young Alumni Service Award

The department's communications specialist, Amanda Fabrizio, received the Young Alumni Service Award from her alma mater DeSales University on September 29, 2012.

Young Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni who graduated within the last 10 years and who has given extraordinary service to the University while leading a life that reflects the ideals of St. Francis de Sales.

To read the full article please visit the DeSales web site.

Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Daniel Scansaroli ’05, ’06G, ’09G, ’12Ph.D. gives graduate student commencement remarks

Daniel Scansaroli ’05, ’06G, ’09G, ’12Ph.D. was chosen to give the graduate student address at the 2012 commencement exercises this past May.

“I felt that I had a story to tell based on the unique perspective of an individual who was both an undergraduate and a graduate student at Lehigh. The distinct international experience of graduate school is one of mind-opening enlightenment about different cultures and life experiences,” said Dan.

“I felt that I needed to discuss how the shared hardship of graduate work encourages graduate students to adapt and learn from each other’s vastly different backgrounds and leave with new views of the world and how we can work together,” said Dan. “The Lehigh graduate experience is transformative. Graduate students find commonalities that result in a peaceful collaborative approach to solving complex problems.”

Watch Dan's full commencement remarks in the video below.

Lehigh -Grad 2012 - Dan Scansaroli from Shufflebox Productions, LLC on Vimeo.

Posted Thursday, September 27, 2012


IE student finding success as mashup artist

Lexington resident and Lehigh student Jared Lucas ’13 has earned a reputation as a mashup artist.

Lucas will graduate soon from Lehigh with a degree in industrial systems engineering; a science that aims to improve on what already exists. In similar fashion, mashup artists take popular songs from the pop charts and weave them together to create completely new pieces of music. Mashups have grown hugely popular in recent years, and especially among young people and college students.

“I like to make things better. That’s a lot of what I saw in industrial engineering. I may not wanna be in manufacturing, but it’s a good skill for life. And it’s a good skill for what I’m doing right now,” said Lucas. This drive has led him to become a successful music entrepreneur before the age of 22.

Using the pseudonym Kap Slap, Lucas built a reputation as a talented mashup artist while still in college. He successfully translated this musical success into a burgeoning business. Through Web-based promotion, he is able to draw in young people who are eager to listen to his songs and hire him to perform at their schools’ concerts.

The birth of Kap Slap

Lucas began mashing songs as a sophomore. A performer called DJ Milkman came to perform for his fraternity Kappa Alpha, which is where the name “Kap Slap” originates. Lucas recalls being in the audience,

“Milkman gave me the idea when he came to my frat house when I was a freshman and then again when I was a sophomore. The second time after hearing him, I started thinking, ‘Hey, I can do this. I can try it out.’”

Kap Slap

So he did.

Lucas, who is an able instrumentalist on the guitar, bass and drums, began experimenting with the default mashup features on his Mac. Unlike other mashup artists, who merely mesh pure clips of songs together, Kap Slap’s songs intertwine popular hits creating completely new sounds that are still similar enough to the original pieces for audiences to recognize them. He began posting on YouTube as a sophomore and soon his top songs were getting hundreds of thousands of hits.

When schools started hiring him to perform shows, Lucas was able to turn his music into a business. Now he does about two shows each weekend, earning up to $10,000 per show.

Getting noticed

Prof. Todd Watkins of Lehigh’s Entrepreneurial Baker Institute, which supports students in startups ventures, says mashup artists like Lucas are becoming more and more common.

“It’s a fairly low cost and it’s easy to get into. You can do a lot of it from your dorm room,” Watkins said. “On the flip side, however, the success rate can be iffy because there are a lot of people who have witnessed the potential for success and have tried it themselves. It’s all about being noticed and finding ways to make value for people.”

Lucas attributes his success to his ability to stay relevant, which he does by always listening to the newest music.

“I’m pretty flexible. As long as I keep my ear to what’s hot out there and what songs people are listening to, I’m going to be able to keep making good music,” he said.

Article by Eric Schmidt.

To read the article, please visit the Wicked Local Lexington web site.

Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Standing among the nation’s elite

Lehigh’s ISE takes pride in its ability to prepare students for careers in industry and academia. Its many successful alumni testify to this commitment—as does a recent national honor.

Last month, the department was chosen by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) as one of three finalists for the new UPS George D. Smith Prize. INFORMS is the world’s largest professional society devoted to operations research, management science and business analytics.

Named for the late CEO of the United Parcel Service, the Smith Prize promotes stronger ties between industry and higher education while recognizing an innovative academic department or program that effectively prepares students for careers in operations research, management science or analytics.

Of the three finalists, Lehigh was the only academic department selected. The University of Michigan’s Tauber Institute for Global Operations won the prize. Cornell University’s School of Operations Research was also chosen.

Tamás Terlaky, department chair and the George N. and Soteria Kledaras ’87 Endowed Chair Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, said the honor reflects ISE’s continued improvement.

“Being rated one of the three best is a wonderful feeling,” said Terlaky. “It’s great that we can claim to be the most innovative department in the country.”

“This award places Lehigh among the most elite universities in understanding how to develop leaders in the field of analytics, the newest discipline to provide global competitive differentiation,” said Gus Gustafson ’74, managing director of Lehigh’s Enterprise Systems Center.

Capitalizing on an “amazing” opportunity

The finalists made their presentations April 15 at the INFORMS 2012 Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Proposal leader Aurélie Thiele, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, was joined by Terlaky, Gustafson and Robert Rappa ’11, ’12G at the presentation.

Rappa discussed the master’s thesis he completed under Thiele’s supervision. The project sought to determine the attributes of people who have defaulted on student loans but are more likely to resume payment if they are contacted. Rappa used analytics, including statistical analysis, technology and advanced calculations, in the project.

“Attending and presenting at the INFORMS Analytics conference was an amazing experience,” said Rappa, who is joining IBM Global Business Consulting this summer. “I am extremely proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to travel across the country to talk to leaders of academia and industry about the ISE department.”

To meet the needs of undergraduate and graduate students, the ISE department has added new courses and programs and restructured current ones.

“The design for a refined undergraduate program is crystallizing,” said Terlaky, “and our professional master’s of engineering program in healthcare systems engineering is very much operational. Our first graduates will be graduating in August.”

The department’s Ph.D. program and six master’s-level programs have placed alumni at leading companies, research labs and universities worldwide, said Terlaky.

To read the article, please visit the Lehigh News web site.

Article by Karl Brisseaux.

Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Engineering solutions in healthcare delivery

Solving one of America’s most challenging problems—a healthcare system that consumes one-sixth of the economy—will require a multifaceted solution, experts said at a recent conference here.

The Integrated Healthcare Delivery Workshop, which drew 100 people, featured panel discussions on “Promoting Innovation” and “Provider Perspectives” and addresses by experts in systems engineering, economics, health insurance, public policy and other fields.

The event was sponsored by Lehigh, the provost’s office, the College of Business and Economics, and the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. It was organized by faculty in four departments—computer science and engineering, economics, industrial and systems engineering, and management.

James Benneyan, director of the Healthcare Systems Engineering Program at Northeastern University, said America’s healthcare industry is plagued with inefficiencies, errors, unequal access, variabilities in practice and patient safety issues.

In addition, he said, the national cost of healthcare, estimated at about $2.7 trillion a year, is increasing twice as fast as inflation.

Systems engineers can improve healthcare, said Benneyan, as they have streamlined the airlines and other industries, by using mathematical, simulation, cognitive and operations models to optimize the processes that make up healthcare delivery.

“There are a huge number of opportunities to build a better healthcare system with systems engineering,” said Benneyan. “We need more emphasis on the training of undergraduate and master’s-level students in programs that expose them to real-life practice.”

Lehigh’s engineering college recently created a professional master’s of engineering program in healthcare systems engineering (HSE). Housed in the department of industrial and systems engineering, HSE will graduate its first class this summer. Its advisory board includes representatives from the Mayo Clinic, hospital networks and home healthcare companies, as well as the insurance, pharmaceutical and consulting industries.

A role for social media

Gordon Gao, co-director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems at the University of Maryland, told the workshop audience that social media networks like Facebook and Twitter can change the nation’s healthcare landscape.

One-third of Medicare payments go to patients with diabetes, said Gao. This cost could be significantly reduced if patients exercised and followed healthier diets. Motivating them to do so has been difficult, but research suggests that people are more likely to change their habits if they have more contact with each other and with healthcare providers.

Gao’s talk was titled “Health 2.0 and Empowered Patients.” Benneyan’s was titled “Healthcare Systems Engineering: If We Are So Good At It Why Are Things Still So Bad.”

The panel discussion “Provider Perspectives” was moderated by Tom Cassidy ’87, area director for Bayada Home Healthcare, and featured officials from St. Luke’s University Health Network, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Mayo Clinic’s Systems and Procedures Division.

“Promoting Innovation” was moderated by Chad Meyerhoefer, associate professor of economics at Lehigh, and featured officials from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, Independence Blue Cross, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

University Provost Patrick V. Farrell opened the event. Tamas Terlaky, the George N. and Soteria Kledaras ’87 Endowed Chair Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, gave closing remarks.

To read the article, please visit the Lehigh News web site.

Article by Kurt Pfitzer.

Photos by Christa Neu.

Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012


ISE celebrates a successful year

Lehigh’s department of industrial and systems engineering (ISE) takes pride in the accomplishments of its students and alumni, who pursue a wide range of careers, from the world’s leading financial institutions to analytical operations research.

At its recent annual banquet in Iacocca Hall, the ISE department honored two alumni for career achievements.

Arthur F. “Pete” Veinott Jr. ’56 was named the 2012 Distinguished Alum for Excellence in Academia, while Timothy J. Wilmott ’80, ’81G was named 2012 Distinguished Alum for Excellence in Industry.

Veinott, professor emeritus of operations research at Stanford University, former Guggenheim Award recipient and member of the National Academy of Engineering, gave two talks as part of the Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture Series: “Optimal and Near Optimal Supply Policy for Deterministic Multiperiod Supply Networks” and “Polytime Computation of Strong and n-Present-Value Optimal Policies in Markov Decision Chains.”

Wilmott, president and chief operating officer (COO) of Penn National Gaming Inc., has established the Timothy J. Wilmott ’80 Endowed Faculty Chair in Industrial Engineering and supported renovations to Mohler Lab, the department’s home.

“I couldn’t be more pleased”

“A Lehigh education is a great foundation to do whatever you want to do in your career,” said Wilmott, who has worked 25 years in the casino industry. “It’s very humbling to be back here at Lehigh, seeing some old professors I remember very fondly from my time here in the ’70s and early ’80s. I’m much honored to be here.”

The ISE department also honored Robert Storer, professor of industrial and systems engineering, as ISE Faculty of the Year.

“It’s humbling to win the award,” said Storer, who has served 25 years on the faculty and is co-director of the integrated business and engineering (IBE) honors program.

“The students are what make this a great job. I look forward to the fall every year when they come back, and they’re just a great bunch of kids—bright, energetic and enthusiastic.”

One of those students, Lorand Dragu ’12, received the distinguished senior IE award. Dragu, who will remain at Lehigh to work on a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering through the Presidential Scholar program, has excelled in the classroom while volunteering with the department during his undergraduate career.

“Winning the award is a very pleasant surprise. I’ve enjoyed being a part of this department; it’s a great group to be around,” said Dragu, a member of the Alpha Pi Mu honor society. The lessons he’s learned as a student, he says, will serve him well in industry, a sentiment echoed by Wilmott.

“The information I deal with, and the techniques I learned at Lehigh in operations research, information technology, motion and time study, I use today in trying to make decisions to run my business better,” said Wilmott.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the foundation I got here.”

To read the article, please visit the Lehigh News web site.

Article by Karl Brisseaux.

Photos by Christopher Elston Photography.

Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Graduate student completes research project with a historic Pennsylvania amusement park

Matt Derr ’12G has been fascinated about amusement parks since he was a child. Having worked in two different parks during his lifetime - one even while attending school at Lehigh, he knew he wanted to pursue an engineering project in the amusement industry to satisfy his degree requirements.

Matt conducted his research project at Kennywood Amusement Park during the summer of 2011. Kennywood, located in West Mifflin, PA, was founded in 1898 as a “trolley park”. The park grew over the years, and was even named a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Joe Barron, Kennywood’s Human Resource Director, worked with Matt on this project. Matt was challenged to find solutions to industrial engineering related problems facing the park including improving the allocation of the park’s seasonal workforce, improving attendance forecasting, and determining average wait-time for the park’s new Sky Rocket roller coaster attraction.

Data was collected and analyzed during their summer operating season, which was used to generate findings and propose recommendations. With the advice of project advisors, Dr. George Wilson and Dr. Robert Storer, the final deliverables included an ARENA Simulation computer model of the park’s Sky Rocket attraction, and a custom designed computer tool, which was nicknamed the “Lehigh-Kennywood Resource Allocator.”

“In this industry, every minute spent in a queue is a missed revenue opportunity for the park, as guests are unable to spend money on games, food, or other revenue-generating activities,” said Matt. “It is vital for management to minimize waits as much as possible by improving operational processes, and investigate the effects of special surcharge programs common in the industry. The second component was a Resource Allocator which finds slack in the park’s staffing, and would save time by assigning the nearest possible employee at an over-staffed attraction to the nearest location in need.”

Matt presented his findings to the park in December 2011, and Palace Entertainment is currently reviewing the research to possibly implement some of the recommendations possibly as early as the 2012 operating season.

“The project required a great deal of work and dedication to travel to the Pittsburgh area, the opportunity to go “behind-the-scenes” and learn more about the operation and management of service-industry processes was fascinating to me,” said Matt. “I would encourage all students (undergrad or grad) who are interested in a particular industry to find a way to work in that industry. Having a basic understanding of the business and often-complicated processes will undoubtedly lead to success later as an industrial engineer.”

Posted Monday, May 7, 2012


Wyomissing IT firm founder and ISE Alum receives Shirk Award

The president of a Wyomissing Information Technology firm received a community award Thursday from Berks Community Television.

John P. Weidenhammer, president and founder of Weidenhammer Systems Corp., was presented with the 2012 Eugene L. Shirk Community Builder Award during a benefit reception at the Stirling Guest Hotel, 1120 Centre Ave.

A graduate of Reading High School, Weidenhammer received a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University in 1971.

In 1978, he founded Weidenhammer Systems, which has three offices in Pennsylvania as well as in Michigan, Colorado and Arizona.

He serves on the boards of Albright College, the Berks Business Education Coalition, the Foundation for Reading Area Community College and Reading Hospital.

He chairs the boards of the Wyomissing Foundation, Home Healthcare Management Corporation and RiverPlace Development/Penn Corridor Initiative.

The award was created in 2000 to honor Shirk, a former Reading mayor, and it is given annually to someone who embodies his qualities: civility, humor, leadership, commitment to the well-being of others and involvement in the community, BCTV said in a statement.

To read the article, please visit the Reading Eagle web site.

Photo by Susan L. Angstadt.

Posted Friday, May 4, 2012


Healing Efficiencies

Systems Engineers are streamlining the provision of Healthcare

Several ISE faculty and students are highlighted in the latest edition of Resolve Magazine.

To read the full magazine, please visit the Resolve web site.

Posted Wednesday, May 2, 2012


33rd annual Honors Convocation celebrates academic excellence

IE student Megan Colville ’12, spoke on behalf of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

On Friday, students, parents and faculty gathered in Zoellner Arts Center for the 33rd Honors Convocation.

The event was co-planned by the President Alice P. Gast and the office of the provost to honor juniors and seniors with outstanding academic achievements. The convocation began with introductory remarks from Alice P. Gast, followed by provost remarks made by Patrick V. Farrell, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"This is an opportunity to honor high achieving students, recognize the faculty and staff support that is often critical to student success and for those parents who can come, acknowledge the importance of their support for their students," said Farrell.

S. David Wu, Dean of P.C Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, spoke to recognize the outstanding academic achievements of the engineering students. He also made a point to recognize that Lehigh beat Duke. Megan Colville, '12, was the student speaker for the college.

Colville is pursuing an integrated degree in Industrial Engineering and Political Science and plans to go to law school post-graduation. She is a Martindale Student Associate and an Admissions Fellow.

"I am honored that I was selected to speak at the 2012 Honors Convocation on behalf of the College of Engineering," said Colville. "It means a lot to me that the IE department has confidence in my abilities and accomplishments and it feels great to be recognized for my hard work."

In her speech, Colville spoke about the importance and value of the connections she made at Lehigh.

"Throughout my four years here, I have been building up these connections with Lehigh faculty, students, and alumni, both purposefully and incidentally, and as I now near graduation, I am beginning to realize their importance," Colville said. "Just in my law school search, I have been connected with Lehigh alumni and their advice and guidance has been invaluable."

This summer Megan will be working in the Contract Administration department of PPL EnergyPlus, an energy marketing and trading company in Allentown.

I struggled a little bit in trying to decide what to write about in my speech. However, in just going through the process of trying to come up with a topic, I discovered how beneficial my connections were," said Colville. "Just in my law school search, I have been connected with Lehigh alumni and their advice and guidance has been invaluable. The topic is also universally applicable; it applies to all grade levels and majors."

"I hope that after my speech, other students will recognize the value in these connections and take advantage of their opportunities."

For years, the Honors Convocation has been held to honor the outstanding work of Lehigh students. Juniors and seniors who have a GPA of 3.6 or higher or are receiving academic prizes were invited to the event along with their parents. This continues to be an effective way for the university to affirm its commitment to academic excellence.

To read the full article, please visit the Brown & White News Web site.

Article by Andra Portnoy ’14

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Unity Week begins, connects a disjointed campus

Monday tipped off Unity Week with a social gathering and presentation. Unity week is a weeklong event with various events that provide ways to meet new people or become in organizations that you never imagined you would join.

ISE student, Gena Levengood ’13, helped start Unity week with two other classmates.

"Specific groups have a lot of pride within their own clicks, but Lehigh as a whole is divided," Levengood said. "We must become involved with other groups and support one another. For instance, the Men's huge win over Duke - After the victory school spirit was so high, everyone was proud to be a Lehigh student."

Armando Berdiel ’12, another founder of Unity Week, said he does not foresee a goal with the event, he just hopes to raise awareness around campus.

"We all have our own little groups, especially here at Lehigh," he said. "But we need to expose ourselves to different cultures, traditions and ideas."

He explained how amazing and unique our campus is, and that it is time to start appreciating and learning from the different cultures around you.

"I see a fragmented, torn campus, a student body that tolerates differences, but does not accept them," said Tyrone Russell, the director of Multicultural Affairs, during the presentation.

He explained the importance of taking pride in your alma mater, that after graduation, you will forever be intertwined with Lehigh. The pride that you bare for this school will be something you only share with the students here at Lehigh.

Only they will know what it means to be a Mountain Hawk.

To read the full article, please visit the Brown & White News Web site.

Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Finding fame in the world of haute cuisine

Whitney Chen ’05 has a knack for taking on challenges. At Lehigh, she was a successful student in industrial engineering, one of the university’s more demanding disciplines. After graduating, she worked on construction and energy projects for Navigant Consulting in New York City.

Lately, she has focused on a new challenge: cooking.

Before a packed audience at the Wood Dining Room in Iacocca Hall on Thursday, Chen spoke about her unique journey from engineer to world-class chef, TV show contestant on The Next Food Network Star, and food writer.

In a cooking demonstration called “Follow Your Passion,” Chen encouraged students, faculty, staff and community members to try their hand in the kitchen. Recipes and giveaways were available at the end of the program.

Chen has enjoyed a rapid rise to success and stardom in the restaurant world. Before she was on the show, she worked as a Chef de Partie at Thomas Keller’s Per Se, which The New York Times has called the best restaurant in the city.

While she was working her station at Per Se, her sister told her about a casting call for the Food Network show. Chen interviewed, was cast, and filmed the show last year. She greatly appreciated the opportunity, but says being on the show wasn’t always easy.

“We were very secluded from everyone,” she said. “It certainly made me appreciate my family and friends.”

An abrupt change

Chen enjoyed being an engineering consultant, but decided after four years to chase her dreams of becoming a chef. She dropped everything, moved to Maryland to attend culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine and completed the program in 2010. Her family and friends were fully supportive of her decision to switch careers.

“I always wanted to cook. I mean, I wanted to cook before I came to Lehigh. But my parents basically said no,” said Chen. “In the end, they were absolutely right. I would not give up my time or my degree here for anything.”

Today, Chen is a contributing editor and photographer at Gilt Taste, an online food magazine and shop. Her column, “Don’t Sweat the Technique,” shows readers how to incorporate four-star flair in their own recipes. She’s also working on launching a food-focused nonprofit by the end of the year.

“The hard part about cooking is you really have to show people how to cook,” said Chen. “That’s really the focus of my column, to kind of very clearly spell it out.”

A self-proclaimed life learner, Chen holds a certificate in journalism from New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Chen is a member of Delta Gamma sorority, and in her time at Lehigh she worked with the Lehigh University Art Galleries, among other involvements. She looks back fondly on her four years in South Bethlehem, and appreciates the lifelong bonds she formed on campus. Best of all, she says, her education in engineering prepared her for a life in the restaurant world.

“I actually think having this degree and having everything I learned at Lehigh to fall back on made me a lot more confident in being able to leave my job and go pursue something else, ” she said.

“I use everything I learned here, or parts of everything I learned here, every day.”


Article by Karl Brisseaux.

Pictures by Douglas Benedict.

To read the full article, please visit the Lehigh University News Web site.

Posted Monday, March 19, 2012


Enterprise Systems Center helps local companies be sustainable

Students assist companies like Kraft, Nestle and Air Products.

For Nestle Waters, a few degrees on the thermostat can mean big money.

That's why when Lehigh University's Enterprise Systems Center pointed out a glitch in the processes of the company's state-of-the-art Breinigsville plant that was keeping temperatures two degrees cooler than necessary, top directors took notice.

"We were cooling water more than we needed to," said Peter Rittenhouse, Nestle Waters' supply chain director. "Lord knows when we would have found it."

It meant a significant savings, Rittenhouse said, somewhere in ballpark of tens of thousands of dollars a year.

For Rittenhouse and other industry leaders who have worked with the Enterprise Systems Center, what makes the finding even better is that the brains behind them are Lehigh University undergraduate and graduate student engineers who have set their sights on improving local companies' sustainability.

"The system that's set up has these students consistently hitting the target," he said. "We've been working with them for four years … and want to continue."

Robert "Gus" Gustafson, the center's managing director, said since the center was founded three decades ago, it has completed 500 projects and played an important role in helping some of the Valley's biggest names — like Nestle, Kraft and Air Products.

"We decide what's keeping them up at night, what their biggest issues are, and then we tackle them," Gustafson said. "It's a consultative process."

The center engages hundreds of students a year — some for class credit, some for pay, just like consultants, he said. Although students are paired with mentors and industry professionals, 60 percent to 80 percent of the work is done by students.

"What makes us unique is that in an internship you give students to a company and say, 'Good luck, I'll see you at the end of August,' " Gustafson said. "This program has layered mentoring."

It works like this: When a company comes to the center for help, it puts together a list of projects, ranking them on their urgency, potential financial return and probability for success.

The center won't take on projects unless it can multiple a company's investment by five, he said.

"The real world is defined by companies willing to pay," he said. "That's what makes our work so meaningful."

The approach itself is three-pronged. The students take a "whole-systems approach" to companies' problems — not tackling only one issue but also looking at how it affects the whole manufacturing process.

It also teaches students leadership, because they make frequent presentations to company executives.

Most importantly, however, the center focuses on "global competitive differentiators" — an industry buzzword that means what companies are looking for now.

In the 1980s, it was quality; in the 1990s, it was speed; and in the last decade, it was innovation.

Now, he said, it's about sustainability.

Achieving sustainability in manufacturing began in earnest in 2009 when corporate giant Walmart announced it would determine its suppliers based on their sustainability — helping its bottom line and its image as better corporate citizens, Gustafson said.

"If there are 100,000 suppliers to Walmart, that is an 800-pound gorilla," he said. "Starting this decade, that became a game changer."

The center looks at four areas to improve sustainability — energy use, material use, carbon footprint and social responsibility.

When Kraft Foods wanted to reduce its carbon footprint at its Lehigh Valley plant, the center's team suggested changing the frequency on cooling fans, replacing cooler doors and better use of air compressor power — all suggestions the plant implemented and counts among its eco-friendly accomplishments, Kraft spokeswoman Joyce Hodel said.

Gustafson said students researching the issues learned that not all compressors are created equal, so students wrote an algorithm to better schedule when compressors ran, saving 7 percent on electricity costs.

They also mapped processes for loading and unloading trucks, making it possible for the company to increase the number of trucks with the same amount of labor, he said.

Now the plant is Kraft's pilot facility for sustainable manufacturing, Hodel said.

The center has also added Valley powerhouse Air Products to its clientele, helping the company investigate converting gas-based vehicles to hydrogen, Gustafson added.

"If you break it all down to simplest component, it's doing more with less," he said. "Saving money and being a corporate citizen, it's a win-win. And it's hard to argue with that."

Article by Devon Lash.

To read the full article, please visit the Morning Call's Web site.

Posted Monday, March 12, 2012


Whitney Chen ’05, 'Next Food Network Star' contestant, looking forward to Lehigh University visit

Whitney Chen wanted to go to culinary school but her parents weren’t on board, so she earned a degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University instead.

Now seven years after her graduation from the Bethlehem school, Chen is living her original dream to work in the culinary field. She did get to attend culinary school, worked as a line chef at a restaurant with three Michelin stars and competed on "The Next Food Network Star." But the New York City resident said she has no regrets about getting her initial degree from Lehigh.

“Having my degree made me a lot more confident in taking the risk I did,” she said. “If it didn’t work out, I would have a backup plan.

“And I would be very upset if I hadn’t met the people I did at Lehigh,” she said.

Chen will get a chance to visit some of those people when she returns to Lehigh on March 15 for a cooking demonstration. Chen said she is looking forward to visiting the engineering department, her former sorority, Delta Gamma, and the Lehigh University Art Galleries-Museum Operation, where she worked before graduating Lehigh in 2005.

The engineering department has wanted to get Chen back on campus ever since she was on Food Network last summer, spokeswoman Amanda Fabrizio said. Chen gladly accepted the department’s invite, Fabrizio said.

Whitney Chen

“It’s going to show our students that you can have a passion and follow it no matter what your degree is,” she said.

Hosting a cooking demonstration is new ground for the engineering department, but the response has been strong, Fabrizio said. As of Friday, about half of the event’s 300 free tickets have been reserved, she said.

“We know there’s a lot of foodies in the area, we’ve been told,” Fabrizio said. “We’re so excited to have her come back.”

Attendees won’t be able to taste Chen’s food because of Lehigh food policies, but Chen said she plans to demonstrate dishes that will be easy for college students to replicate. Chen is still working on the recipes, but she said none of them will have more than five ingredients.

Chen helped plan menus while living at Delta Gamma’s sorority house and cooked all the time when she lived off campus her senior year. Chen’s fiance will be visiting with her in March, and she plans to take him to some of her favorite off-campus hangouts, including the Apollo Grill and Tally-Ho Tavern, she said.

In addition to her good memories of Lehigh, Chen said her engineering classes also provided her with practical knowledge in the kitchen.

“It’s all about doing 52 things at the same time,” she said. “There’s tons of processes and trying to figure out what to do first, second and third.”

While working as a chef is far afield from engineering, Lehigh art gallery Director and Curator Ricardo Viera said, Chen has talent in so many different areas. He knew her as an art aficionado.

“I’m not surprised with anything she is able to do,” said Viera, who also had Chen as an art student. “Whatever she does she does well, and she uses all of the resources and all of the things she learned as an engineer.”

“I wish we got much more people like her. She’s amazing,” he said.

Since completing her run on "The Next Food Network Star," Chen has been working as a contributing editor at Gilt Taste, an online food and wine magazine and store. While she’s still interested in the possibility of having her own cooking show, she said, she loves her current job.

“I just want to teach people about cooking,” she said.

Tickets for Whintey's cooking demonstration from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 15 at Lehigh's Iacocca Hall can be obtained here.


Article by Lynn Olanoff.

To read the full article, please visit the Lehigh Valley Live's Web site.

Posted Friday, February 10, 2012


Research cluster aims to improve Smart Grid

Experts from companies seeking to streamline the generation and transmission of electric power gathered at Lehigh last week to help the university sharpen its focus on a critical new research endeavor.

“Toward the Smart Grid,” a workshop held Jan. 20, drew more than 200 people, including leaders of utilities, businesses and engineering firms, and faculty and students.

The goal was to help Lehigh shape its new research cluster in Integrated Networks for Electricity (INE), which has chosen its theme as “Integrated Networks for Electrical, Information, and Financial Flows.”

The workshop featured five outside speakers and a panel discussion. Guests were welcomed by S. David Wu, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Rick Blum, professor of electrical and computer engineering and INE cluster director, said the smart grid would integrate “sophisticated information technology” with the existing electrical grid.

Giving more power to consumers

This will make generating, transmitting and distributing electric power more efficient, more environmentally friendly and less expensive, Blum said, if a number of challenges are overcome.

Power generated by renewable power sources such as wind and solar, which are highly variable, must be integrated with power from carbon-based sources such as coal, oil and natural gas, he said. This requires new ways of storing electricity from renewable sources and pricing systems that reflect the variability of power.

Other challenges include cyber-security and developing systems that diagnose and correct disturbances and faults in real time.

The smart grid will match supply with demand more efficiently by determining when consumers need power and how much they need. Information on real-time electricity prices will be channeled to energy management controllers that help homeowners buy power when it is priced most cheaply.

This leveling effect will help utilities avoid costly periods of peak demand and even costlier outages like the 2003 Northeast Blackout, which caused $6 billion in damage and cut off power to 50 million people in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

Five invited speakers addressed the workshop. Anna Scaglione, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California-Davis, discussed “Why Information Networks Can Pave the Way to Green Electricity.”

Timothy Mount, professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, spoke on “Utopia Electric: Developing a Smart Grid that Customers Can Afford.”

Anjan Bose, director of the Power Systems Engineering Research Center at Washington State University, discussed “The Evolution of Control for the Smart Transmission Grid.”

Fred S. Roberts, director of the Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA) at Rutgers University, discussed “Algorithmic Decision Theory and the Smart Grid.”

Jeffrey D. Taft, engineer and chief architect for Cisco Connected Energy Networks,” spoke on “Cisco and the Smart Grid.”

The panel discussion featured Hassan Farhangi, director of the Group for Advanced Information Technology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology; Ken Geisler, director of business strategy for Siemens Energy Inc.; Monique Rowtham-Kennedy, deputy general counsel for environment and installations for the U.S. Department of Defense; and Joe Callis, senior applied solutions engineer at PJM Interconnection.

The discussion was moderated by Martha Dodge, director of Lehigh’s Energy Systems Engineering Institute. The research projects of faculty and students were featured in a poster presentation.


Article by Kurt Pfitzer.

To read the full article, please visit the Lehigh News's Web site.

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012