Teaching is one of the most important professions in the world. No other career influences so many people along so many dimensions. Teachers have the ability to shape the minds and futures of many people and they do so at all kinds of critical life stages. Kindergarten teachers introduce young minds to the wonder of learning. Middle School teachers have the difficult challenge of inspiring a passion for academics in teens who are more worried about developmental issues and their social lives.
So, it is not surprising that it was a middle school teacher who sparked a passion for engineering in a young Osman Ozaltin. “I became interested in engineering when my math teacher in middle school taught me some of the grand challenges for engineering,” said Ozaltin. “I always wanted to solve real-life problems using math and science.” Pairing that math and science with his desire to help people, Ozaltin knew that his future lay in engineering. “Moreover, I love to work on problems that impact the lives of people,” he shared. “Engineers can develop solutions to a very diverse set of practical problems using tools from basic science and math.”
After high school, Ozaltin enrolled at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey to pursue a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. It is there he discovered he had a passion that is common among engineers – the need to know how things are made. “I love to learn new things,” declared Ozaltin. “I like discovering the details of the new things I learn.”
From Bogazici, Ozaltin came to the U.S. and enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh where he would complete both his masters and doctorate in industrial engineering. It was during his time as a Ph.D. candidate that Ozaltin made the decision to work in academia. “I wanted to pursue a career where I could explore and learn new things every day,” he said.
Before joining NC State, Ozaltin was an Assistant Professor of Management Sciences at the University of Waterloo in Canada. One of the factors that attracted him to working at NC State was the diversity and collaborative nature of the ISE faculty. “I was also impressed by the medical collaborations between the Health Systems Engineering Group (HSE) within ISE and university hospitals in the Triangle area,” stated Ozaltin. In 2013, he joined the ISE faculty as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Personalized Medicine.
As part of ISE’s HSE, Ozaltin focuses his research interests in the areas of the theoretical, computational, and applied aspects of mathematical programming, specializing in the area of public health policymaking, personalized medical decision-making, and healthcare delivery. He also develops statistical learning models using massive electronic health records for better decision-making in clinical practice.
Or, to put it simply, he is using math and science to solve real-life problems and improve the lives of people. His middle school teacher would be quite proud.