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Boeing Fellow to give 2010 ISE Distinguished Lecture Series

John T. Betts, Boeing Fellow

When describing something dreadfully simple or blatantly obvious, people often proclaim "it isn’t rocket science." This may show that many have a clear understanding of what rocket science is not; far fewer of us understand what, in fact, rocket science really is.

During the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department's 2010 Spencer C. Schantz Lecture, Dr. John T. Betts will reflect on the many subjects encountered during a career in the aerospace industry. His public lecture, "What Does a Rocket Scientist Really Do?" will take place on Friday, April 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Perella Auditorium of the Rauch Business Center.

"John Betts is an amazing industry research professional who has contributed to numerous critical projects at Boeing, the author of popular books and the SOCS optimal control software package (software for solving optimal control problems)," says Tamás Terlaky department chair of the ISE Department and the George N. and Soteria Kledaras ’87 Endowed Chair Professor. "He has lectured in industry and major scientific events, and has influenced both the practice of optimization in industry and academic research. Faculty and students are looking forward to learn from Dr. Betts’ invaluable experiences and about the issues facing the optimization practitioner in today’s industrial setting."

Dr. Betts will also be giving a Technical Talk to the ISE department students on Thursday, April 15 at 2:30 p.m. in Mohler Lab room 451 titled, "Algorithmic Choices When Solving an Optimal Control Problem."

John T. Betts received a B.A. degree from Grinnell College in 1965 with a major in physics and minor in mathematics. He attended graduate school at Purdue University and in 1967 received an M.S. in Astronautics with a major in orbit mechanics. He received a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from Purdue in 1970, specializing in optimal control theory. He joined The Aerospace Corporation in 1970 as a Member of the Technical Staff, and from 1977-1987 was manager of the Optimization Techniques Section of the Performance Analysis Department. Dr. Betts joined the The Boeing Company, serving as manager of the Operations Research Group of Boeing Computer Services from 1987-1989. He served as a Technical Fellow in the Mathematics and Computing Technology Division, until his retirement in 2009, during which time he provided technical support to all areas of the Boeing Co. Dr. Betts is a member of AIAA and SIAM with active research in nonlinear programming and optimal control theory. In 2004, he was granted an "outstanding aerospace engineer award" by Purdue University. He has over 50 technical publications, and is the author of two books on optimal control methods.

The lecture series is endowed in the name of the late Spencer C. Schantz, who graduated from Lehigh in 1955 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Following progressive responsibilities with several electrical manufacturing companies, in 1969 he founded U.S. Controls Corporation and became its first CEO and President. The Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture Series was established by his wife Jerelyn as a valuable educational experience for faculty, students and friends of Lehigh’s Industrial and Systems Engineering department. Past speakers in this series have included John Mulvey (Princeton University), William R. Pulleybank (IBM), Thomas L. Magnanti (MIT), Cynthia Barnhart (MIT) and John E. McGlade ’76, ’80G (Air Products and Chemicals).

For more about the Spencer C. Schantz Lecture, please visit the ISE Web site.

Story by Amanda Fabrizio

Posted on Friday, April 02, 2010

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