E-Week kicks off at Tech

Last week Tech celebrated the nationwide Engineers Week on campus. Recognized across universities and the engineering industry, Engineers Week highlights the impact engineers have on society. With this year’s motto “Engineers Make a World of Difference,” the week enhances many perspectives on engineering.

Quite a few organizations and majors worked together to create a singular event to showcase the talent, research and importance of the fields of engineering.

“The idea is that people are presenting things that demonstrate their field of engineering. It’s something [they] like to do,” said Ryan Westafar, an Electrical and Computer Engineering grad student and member of Tau Beta Pi, the honorary engineering fraternity that coordinated the event.

With additional participation from groups such as Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) students, the Institute for Industrial Engineers, Omega Chi Epsilon (the chemical engineering honorary fraternity) and several others, the event provided enjoyable insights for both engineering and non-engineering majors alike.

“What I told everyone was, ‘Now’s your chance to show everyone the excitement you have for your domain of engineering,’” Westafer said in regards to the participants in the fair.

Another ideal behind the event included the popular trend of sustainability. “One of the things we wanted to do was make the event sustainable,” Westafar said, describing the reusable banners and materials.

The Engineers Week event included fun but informative demonstrations of engineering and refreshments and prizes. From a homemade Van de Graaff machine to refreshing hot chocolate supplied by OXE, the event educated and entertained people simultaneously.

As the Society of Women Engineers gave free t-shirts to quiz participants, Westafar commended the sponsors of the event, along with the advisor for Tau Beta Pi, Professor Jane Ammons, associate dean of Engineering and ISyE professor.

“[Lockheed-Martin] made it happen for Tech students,” Professor Ammons said while enjoying the cotton candy from a nearby stand. Westafer and Professor Ammons both agreed on the generosity of Lockheed for their support of Engineers Week at Tech.

While Tau Beta Pi hosted the array of various engineering organizations and majors for Engineers Week, an ISyE Ph.D. student received honors for her work in humanitarian relief logistics. The National Engineers Week Foundation asked its members to choose a group of engineers up to 30 years of age for its prestigious New Faces of Engineering accolade.

Jessica Heier was the only student among the New Faces of Engineering 2008, representing Tech and the work of industrial engineers in humanitarian relief.

Collaborating with PhD students Aykagan Ak and Clarence L. Wardell III and professors Ozlem Ergun and Pinar Keskinocak, Heier’s project dealt with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The project covered vaccinations and their transportation costs while simultaneously reviewing disease prevention processes. Covering supplies in 37 nations in Central and South America, the project shed a great deal of insight into the field of humanitarian relief logistics.

“The skills I have developed through my coursework and the interaction with faculty and students have been vital to pursuing my goal of improving humanitarian logistics,” Heier said.

With the Humanitarian Logistics Research Center at Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute, Heier has found essential opportunities to further her research in humanitarian relief.

Her biography on the National Engineers Week website states that for “Heier…two powerful influences guided her decision to become an industrial engineer. On the one hand, she enjoyed applying mathematics to system problems. On the other, she wanted to have an impact on important societal issues. Those two forces came together when Heier recognized that she could apply logistics methodologies to help humanitarian organizations plan and…improve people’s lives.”

As she continues to work on her doctoral dissertation, Heier looks into the systems with decentralized decision making, which obviously need improvement. According to Heier, “this work is needed because in disasters there are many entities making decisions with localized information and differing objectives, but these decisions impact the entire system.”

After completing her PhD, Heier plans to pursue professorship in ISyE and continue to do research in humanitarian relief logistics while teaching new students. Heier is grateful for her recognition and the impact it makes on the realm of engineering by creating awareness.

“Tech students have a tremendous opportunity to help others understand what engineering is all about and to use their education to positively impact society in many diverse ways. I challenge them to do just that,” Heier said.

To find out more about Engineers Week or to learn about the New Faces of Engineering and Heier’s recognition, visit www.eweek.org.