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Students, get the word out

SEMS believes that undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in our academic and professional community. In 2011, students were 41 percent of SEMS membership. SEMS also includes many academic professionals who can conduct student outreach directly. This gives SEMS the opportunity to improve and increase its service offerings for student members.


  • Wiljeana Glover, committee lead, postdoctoral associate at the MIT-Lean Advancement Initiative
  • Fernando Galeu, graduate student, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • Cecilia Martinez, engineering management consultant, ITESM Campus Monterrey
  • Ralph Riedel, professor of factory planning and management, Technical University of Chemnitz
  • Arsalan Safari, graduate student, Department of Management Sciences, University of Waterloo
  • Amir Gandomi Sereshki, graduate student, mechanical engineering, Ryerson University
  • Eileen Van Aken, committee champion and professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

To retain and increase student membership, SEMS has built a network of volunteers to define and develop programs and services that represent the needs of our student members. The SEMS student initiative (SI) committee is working on the following five initiatives:

  1. Career advice and networking: Expose IIE student members to various careers in the field of industrial engineering, including systems engineering, engineering management and management systems, and provide guidelines to create professional networking. Planned activities include a SEMS student initiative networking reception at the IIE Annual Conference and Expo 2012, along with a panel of SEMS industry and academic members to share their professional experiences and networking advice with students.
  2. Academia: Engage students in engineering management-related research and provide advice on how to publish their work. Our first SI webinar series will have recognized scholars, researchers and journal editors share advice with student members.
  3. Practice and application: Collect and share with students the latest studies and achievements in engineering management systems in academic and industrial environments.
  4. Recognition: Improve recognition for students and give them the opportunity to become part of an active network of experts. The annual conference will include sessions that highlight students who applied for awards in the engineering management track.
  5. Membership: To increase the number of SEMS members, we have identified collective needs for student organizations. We also want to hear from student chapters that have a strong interest in or that have hosted events on how engineering and management work together.

Learn more about the student initiative and all the benefits of SEMS and IIE membership. If you have questions or ideas, email the SI committee at semsstudentinitiatives@gmail.com or contact any SEMS SI committee member.

Managing performance in turbulent times

The turbulent world we live in poses a dilemma for performance measurement. Measurement systems lack stability, predictability and take a long time to deploy; for example, some companies have 10-year SAP rollout programs. By the time the right measures have been identified, the appropriate sources of data established, the right targets selected, the right incentives introduced and the supporting infrastructure put in place, the world will have changed significantly, and it could be time to start again.

My presentation at the Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference (ISERC) 2012 will explore managing performance in turbulent times. The performance management for turbulent environments (PM4TE) framework consists of two core cycles, execution management and performance management, and five supporting foundations: strategic intelligence, continuous conversation, accelerated learning, organizational alignment and engaged leadership.

The starting point is the performance management cycle, specifically performance modeling within that cycle. Performance modeling refers to the construction of a causal model (often a hypothetical causal model) that illustrates the links between the various dimensions of performance that matter to the organization. Delivery on time drives customer service, customer service drives customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction drives customer loyalty and so on. The key is to articulate your theory about the factors that create value in your organization and the links between them.

Once the performance model has been constructed, turn to managing projects. Regardless of size, the relationship between the projects and the performance model needs to be explicit and the project impact evaluated. The final loop in the execution management cycle is to make decisions – changing, modifying, speeding up or slowing down projects – depending on their impact.Organizations operating in turbulent environments must get around the execution management cycle as quickly as possible. Just think about social media firms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They constantly evolve their technology platforms, executing projects to enhance the user experience.

While the execution management cycle is fundamental, it is important not to lose sight of the performance management cycle. For sometimes one has to ask, “Is our performance model still appropriate?” This makes managers challenge their performance model assumptions and, hence, the foundations of their business. This is important when you recognize that the execution cycle is not delivering the required performance improvements or that external events require a change in direction.

At the conference, I will use practical examples and material from research to illustrate how a fully functioning PM4TE process helps organizations navigate turbulent times.

— Andy Neely is founding director of the Cambridge Service Alliance and deputy director of the Advanced Institute of Management Research. He will present his recent work at ISERC 2012 as the SEMS featured speaker of the Engineering Management track.

Research and Applied Solutions conferences

SEMS is sponsoring the Engineering Management tracks at the IIE Annual Conference and Expo 2012, scheduled for May 19-23 in Orlando, Fla. The Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference (ISERC) and Applied Solutions Conference will provide learning and networking opportunities for SEMS members and other attendees.

The 2012 ISERC Engineering Management track co-chairs are Sergio Gouvea da Costa from the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, Eileen Van Aken from Virginia Tech and Toni Doolen from Oregon State University. The 2012 Applied Solutions Engineering Management and Industry track co-chairs include Michele Dekelbaum from Baylor Health Care System and Sreekanth Ramakrishnan from IBM. They have been working with the SEMS board of directors and many contributors to develop a high-quality and expanded conference program.

ISERC Engineering Management track

The 2012 ISERC Engineering Management track has increased in size and breadth. More than 90 presentations on engineering management research are planned across 34 sessions. Most will have full papers included in the conference proceedings. More than one-third will be from international presenters. Presentations include the following topics:

  • Systems and engineering management
  • Project management
  • Risk management
  • Knowledge worker performance
  • Motivation of the technical workforce
  • Team-based work systems
  • Decision analysis
  • Process improvement
  • Quality systems implementation and sustainability
  • Leadership in engineering management
  • Performance measurement systems
  • Strategies for managing organizational change
  • Enterprise knowledge and learning
  • Lean enterprise
  • Lean product development
  • Management of innovation and research and development
  • Action research in engineering management
  • Engineering management education and training
  • Marketing of technology
  • Engineering management in healthcare
  • Service systems engineering

This year, the track includes the special featured session “Grand Challenges for Performance Measurement Research” by Umit Bititci from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom. Bititci is widely recognized for his expertise in performance measurement. In this session, he will review performance measurement theory and practices from three different perspectives (social systems; emerging business and social trends; and the holistic, systems-based approach) and identify many challenges in the field. In particular, Bititci argues that we should revamp performance measurement with a holistic, systems-based approach, rather than focusing on a single phenomenon or element at a time.

Applied Solutions Engineering Management and Industry track

The Engineering Management and Industry track has presentations scheduled from Monday afternoon (May 21) through Wednesday morning (May 23) of the conference. Topics will include:

  • Are you motivated? Best practice models for promoting high performance
  • Qualitative risk assessment with FMEA (failure mode effect analysis)
  • Applying industrial engineering principles in human resources
  • The quest for a global economic ethic: If it’s not ethical, it’s not sustainable
  • An innovative balanced scorecard to effectively manage product quality of newly commercialized technologies
  • Managing successful integrated enterprises: Lessons learned from the U.S. military health system

This track also includes a panel presentation to discuss “Managing in Tough Times.” The panelists come from small businesses, large corporations and academia. Additionally, Jack Levis from UPS will make a presentation called “Managing Advanced Analytics.” Last year, Levis presented “Case Study on Transforming UPS through Technology – The Road to Optimization,” which won first place in the 2011 Gartner Business Intelligence Excellence Award.

SEMS Town Hall meeting

The SEMS Town Hall meeting is an interactive forum to benefit current and potential SEMS members. SEMS officers Geert Letens, Eileen Van Aken and Jennifer Farris will discuss the state of the society and future plans.

Attendees can meet and ask questions of the SEMS board of directors, network with members and suggest future activities. They can get involved with key initiatives, such as the SEMS website, webinar series, international presence and student-focused initiatives. If you are interested in learning more about SEMS or becoming more involved with the society, this is a “don’t miss” opportunity.

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