WMU News

World-renowned engineering researcher visits WMU

Jan. 15, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- An internationally known figure in operations research is visiting Western Michigan University this month to work with students and faculty in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and to help college officials apply his research to operations planning for WMU's new engineering complex on the Parkview Campus.

Dr. David M. Ryan, professor of operations research and past head of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, is visiting WMU through Jan. 22 as part of the University's Distinguished Visiting Professor Program. Ryan is currently on sabbatical leave and, in addition to serving as a visiting professor at WMU, is in the United States to accept two international awards for his work.

Ryan has made significant advances in the field of operations research, particularly in the area of integer programming. His research has led to the implementation of computer optimization systems to solve very large and complex aircrew scheduling problems for Air New Zealand's domestic and international flights. Ryan's methods are now used worldwide to solve staffing, scheduling, and routing problems.

Based on Ryan's background and his work at the University of Auckland in the development of an automated system to schedule pooled lecture and laboratory rooms, WMU's engineering college is tapping his knowledge to assist in defining room and course scheduling practices for its new facility at the Parkview Campus. After initial discussions with Dr Edmund Tsang, associate dean for undergraduate programs and assessment, plans have already been made for a WMU industrial engineering graduate student to propose a master's thesis on this topic under the guidance of Drs. Azim Houshyar and Steven Butt of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Other activities scheduled for Ryan during his stay at WMU include conducting graduate seminars and lectures for the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. Faculty members from that department are also collaborating with him on research projects, and, as a result of Ryan's visit, the possibility of establishing an engineering student and faculty exchange program between WMU and the University of Auckland is being discussed.

Before coming to WMU, Ryan was the 2002 International Federation of Operational Research Societies Distinguished Lecturer at the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences 50th Anniversary Meeting, held in late November in San Jose, Calif. During the meeting he was also awarded the 2002 INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of Operations Research and Management Sciences Practice for his excellence in mentoring and teaching.

Ryan was nominated for the WMU Visiting Professor Program by Dr. Steven Butt, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, who is coordinating his visit.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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