The ISE Department welcomed its first class of Distinguished Alumni in 2006. Along with the 13th class of Distinguished Alumni (Tony Blevins, Subhash Sarin, and Brad Sullivan), the Department welcomed its first class of Outstanding Young Alumni (Rashida Hodge and Constance Lightner) during the department’s Red and White Week Celebration.
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor that the department can give any graduate who has been out of school for 20 years or more. It’s awarded to alumni whose contributions to their profession, the community, and the department, college, and university are notable and deserve special recognition.
Tony J. Blevins oversees Apple Inc’s global supply chain as Vice-President of Procurement. Since 2000, he has supervised a large international and multi-disciplined staff that has enabled innovative Apple products that include the original and all later versions of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Before joining Apple, Blevins held positions at IBM in engineering, finance, production control, and procurement while doing many international assignments which culminated in a role as Program Director at IBM’s development lab in Greenock, Scotland.
Blevins, a native of Ashe Country, NC was an undergrad engineering co-op at Burlington Industries and earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from NC State University in 1989.
Dr. Subhash Sarin
Subhash C. Sarin currently holds the Paul T. Norton Endowed Professorship in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has made research contributions in production scheduling, sequencing, applied mathematical programming, and analyzing and designing algorithms for the operational control of manufacturing systems. Sarin has published over a hundred papers in the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research journals and has co-authored three books in the production scheduling area. He has been recognized with several prestigious awards at the university, state, and national levels for his research work, teaching, service, and advising.Sarin received his Ph.D. from N. C. State in 1978 in industrial engineering and operations research. Before that, he received an M.S. in industrial engineering from Kansas State University and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Delhi.
Brad Sullivan is the co-founder and former president of Thomas-Bain Leather, Inc., which specializes in the manufacturing of custom upholstered and leather furniture. Sullivan received his BSIE degree with a Furniture Manufacturing and Management concentration from NC State in 1982 after having received a BS in Economics & Political Science from Western Carolina University in 1979. He is a member of the W.C. Riddick Lifetime Giving Society and the NC State Alumni Association.
In 2016, he and his wife established the Brad and Anna Sullivan Family Scholarship Endowment which provides need-based scholarships to students from counties in western NC pursuing a degree in the College of Engineering, Textiles, Management, or Agriculture & Life Sciences. He is a longtime member of the Wolfpack Club and an avid supporter of all NC State athletics. His wife, Anna, and their three children are all NC State alumni.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional practice and/or service and is for alumni who have been out of school for less than 20 years. This includes to the University, profession, or society at large. Ideal candidates will have made rapid advancement within their organization.
Rashida Hodge is the Vice President of IBM Watson Embed and Strategic Partnerships. The IBM Watson Group is charged with accelerating a new class of “cognitive” software, services, and apps that fuel a diverse cloud-based ecosystem of enterprises.
Prior to her current role, Rashida held numerous leadership roles across IBM where she was core to establishing sustainable business operations and end to end client and partner success.
Rashida has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering, from North Carolina State University and holds an MBA from Duke University. She is the founder of the NC State College of Engineering Foundation Real Hope for Next Gen Engineers Endowed Scholarship.
Rashida is originally from St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands and has a passion for mentoring and giving back to her community.
Dr. Constance Lightner
Constance Lightner earned her bachelor’s degree (1994) in Applied Mathematics from Norfolk State University and her master’s (1997) and doctoral (2000) degrees in Operations Research from NC State. Upon completing her doctoral degree, she began working at Fayetteville State University (FSU) as an assistant professor of Management. Lightner is currently an associate professor who has served as the chair for the Department of Management for 7 years. While she has received numerous university teaching awards during her 19-year tenure an FSU, her most prestigious honor came in 2008 when she was recognized as a UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award recipient. She has been actively involved with community outreach projects that include working as a lead statistician for the United Way to conduct county-wide surveys about Social Service funding opportunities. Lightner also serves as a UNC Community College liaison who develops articulation agreements with Community Colleges in NC to assist students in transferring to new universities. Her last 2 research articles (about transportation route optimization) were published in Soft Computing and the International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics, where she received an Outstanding Paper in Emerald Literati Network Award for Excellence.