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Challenges are creating opportunities, David Wu tells international conference
Challenges in healthcare delivery, energy and the environment, and infrastructure are creating opportunities for industrial engineers, S. David Wu told the IIE conference in Puerto Rico.
As the world grows more complex, and as the global economy continues to remain sluggish, it is becoming increasingly important for engineers to form meaningful research coalitions and partnerships, engineering dean S. David Wu said in a speech this week in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At the same time, Wu said, large-scale challenges in healthcare delivery, energy and the environment, and infrastructure are opening up opportunities for industrial engineers who can solve problems creatively and build bridges with other academic disciplines.

Wu, the Iacocca Professor and Dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, gave the keynote address at the Annual Conference and Expo of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to the industrial engineering profession.

He also gave a separate address to IIE fellows meeting at the group’s annual conference. More than 30 universities, including Lehigh, were event sponsors for the conference.

In an interview with IIE, Wu, himself an IIE fellow, said a “climate of shrinking resources and increasing competition” has made it mandatory for industrial and systems engineers to “think outside the box” and to adapt to, and manage, change.

“Industrial and systems engineers have a tradition of working with other disciplines and extracting the essentials for problem solving,” he said. “We want to renew that tradition and form connectivity not only with other engineering professions but also with disciplines in natural sciences, mathematics, business and social sciences.

“Technological and social contexts are changing so fast that no single discipline can grasp the full extent of these complex, interrelated issues. With the advent of social media and other collaboration tools, partnership and coalition have become the key ingredients for creative problem solving.”

Wu, who was appointed dean of the engineering college in 2004, is renowned for his work in operations research, especially in optimization, game theory and statistical analysis. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, Semiconductor Research Corp. and Sandia National Laboratories.

Wu has served on the editorial boards of many journals, and his articles, which number more than 100, have been published in Operations Research, Management Science, IIE Transactions and Naval Research Logistics. He is also co-editor of the bestselling book Handbook of Quantitative Supply Chain Analysis with David Simchi-Levi and Max Shen.