Faculty Profile: Yuan-Shin Lee

Discover how Dr. Yuan-Shin Lee uses industrial engineering, teamwork and opportunity to make the world a better place

Dr. Yuan-Shin Lee always had an interest for engineering. As a small child, it was not industrial, but locomotive engineering that captured his imagination. Dr. Lee recalled a family trip to the train station. “Locomotives have always been a fascination of mine,” he shared. “My parents tried to get us all aboard the commuter train, but I refused because I wanted to get on the locomotive.”

As he grew older, Dr. Lee realized it was other engineering disciplines like mechanical and industrial that were the backbone of a growing society. So, like many of the brightest young minds in Taiwan, he decided to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. After receiving his mechanical engineering degree from the National Taiwan University in 1984, Dr. Lee served his required two years of military service in the Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. It was there where he developed an appreciation for discipline, responsibility, and teamwork.

After his service, Dr. Lee took a full-time position as a teaching assistant and lab coordinator back at his alma mater. From this experience, he gained a strong understanding of how a university’s systems and culture work.

By 1990, Dr. Lee completed his master’s degree in Industrial Engineering at Purdue University. “My decision to study industrial engineering rather than mechanical was almost accidental, but a good one,” Dr. Lee explained.

This systems-based training gave Dr. Lee the ability to see things the traditional engineer does not. By combining his mechanical engineering knowledge of physics with this new perspective, Dr. Lee says he achieved a broader and more balanced view. “This combination of interdisciplinary training gives you two things,” he states. “One, it keeps you open-minded. Second, you are able to see things from different points of view. This gives you the confidence to try new things.”

Dr. Lee continued his education at Purdue and in 1993 received his Ph.D. in industrial engineering. He started his teaching career at Kansas State University as an assistant professor. After receiving a call from NC State and making a trip to Raleigh where he fell in love with the area, Dr. Lee joined the ISE faculty in 1995.

Today, engineering is evolving. To be ready for emerging opportunities in new fields, engineers must be able to combine various disciplines to solve new engineering problems. Dr. Lee is always searching for these connections, and dedicates himself to making opportunities available to the ISE Department.

Recently, along with Dr. Binil Starly and Dr. Paul Cohen, Dr. Lee introduced a new course, Digital and Smart Manufacturing to industrial and systems engineering. This course was just pitched last fall and more than 20 graduate and undergraduate students have taken the course this spring. “Our department plays a key role in introducing smart manufacturing as a new disciplinary area to industrial and systems engineering. We have put NC State ISE on the map of new digital and smart manufacturing research in the nation. This helps the department move forward and distinguishes itself,” explains Dr. Lee.

Smart manufacturing is Dr. Lee’s current focus area, having recently returned from an international conference. Many other countries are already working on this new technology, so the federal government has been reaching out to engineers, such as those here at NC State, to spearhead further research. Dr. Lee says smart manufacturing is coming at society like a storm. It is coming, so we have to get ready for it. And, he wants NC State ISE to play a key role in this new opportunity.

As someone who believes that engineering represents the future of society, Dr. Lee is helping ISE students and graduates join new corporations and grasp trends in this exciting time.