Good things come to those who wait. This expression perfectly describes the ISE department’s alumni and faculty. Even though they work tirelessly without a promise of reward or recognition, their dedication and contributions to the industrial engineering field have gotten them noticed, earning them multiple Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Awards.
ISE Distinguished Alumnus and advisory board member Tony Blevins received the IISE Captain of Industry Award. This award honors leaders in business, industry and government who have used industrial engineering methods to create significant success for their organization and identify the ISE profession as a key reason for their success.
“ISE is this amazing discipline, where one can have a huge impact on the world and society,” explained ISE department head Julie Swann. “Tony’s contributions have been crucial to the success of Apple as a company and Apple products. Think about the importance of ISE every time you or a family member use an Apple product, and imagine all the many ways ISE graduates are changing the world for the better. “
Blevins started at NC State a much different person than he is today. “In summary, I grew up in one of the least affluent counties of North Carolina but my experiences and educational opportunities at NCSU opened up doors for me that I could not have previously imagined,“ Blevins explained. “I firmly believe that education combined with inspiration and perspiration serves as the great socio-economic equalizer.”
Today, Blevins oversees Apple’s global supply chain. He manages over 1200 professionals (many of whom are engineers) in seven cities worldwide. He and his team are responsible for procuring every component for every Apple product, representing approximately 150,000 items from over more than 1500 suppliers. Blevins and his team draw upon a large set of traditional and innovative aspects of industrial engineering, such as simulation, supply chain diversification, artificial intelligence and machine learning in supply chain modeling, and root cause analysis to manage such a complex system well and quality engineering.
ISE advisory board member Candance Gingles has been honored with the IISE SEMS Outstanding Management in Industrial and Systems Engineering Award. This award recognizes engineers who create a managed climate where ISE techniques are utilized with outstanding results.“Gingles is perfect for this award, with her extensive leadership in quality control of pharmaceuticals,” Swann explained.“If you or a family member has had an IV bag, there is a significant chance you have benefited from her management of engineers to ensure data integrity, process validation and reliability for highly used sterile injectables.”
Gingles is the Director of Quality Systems and Engineering at Pfizer’s Rocky Mount, NC site. As the Director, she serves as the sitewide lead for regulatory compliance, training and quality aspects in the validation and change management of new products, manufacturing technology and continuous improvements. Her team’s work ensures the health of processes at the site.
As an advisory board member, she works with the board to highlight the importance of industry skills and technological demands within the ISE degree program. “Throughout my career, I leveraged the Industrial Engineering body of knowledge into roles in multiple Engineering disciplines, (i.e. Industrial, Project, and Process), Distribution, Operations, (i.e. Manufacturing Supervisor, Operational Excellence Lead and Site Lead) and Quality (Supplier Quality, Quality Engineering and Quality Systems),” Gingles explained. “These roles were in manufacturing and distribution environments. The concepts taught in the degree program are applied in many other industry types.” Gingles believes that ISE degrees afford the engineer an extreme degree of career flexibility and wants to work with the board to assure those future generations will have the same advantages that she had.
ISE professor of personal medicine Maria Mayorga received the IISE Fellows Award, the highest classification of membership in IISE, recognizing outstanding leaders in the engineering profession. These leaders have made significant, nationally recognized contributions to ISE.
Mayorga is one of NC State’s University Faculty Scholars. She works on challenging problems that are important to society, including research on colorectal cancer, diabetes, sepsis, COVID-19 and disaster logistics. Her focus is on strategies that can be tailored to an individual, also known as precision medicine. Mayorga also focuses on capturing human behavior in the system.
Mayorga is a leader within the IISE organization, with achievements such as starting a new student award as president of the Operations Research division and conducting several editorial awards. “NC State is very lucky to have Maria Mayorga, who is also one of the highest-ranking Latinas in our field in the continental US,” Swann explained.
Mayorga also promotes the work and visibility of others through her support of the Minority Issues Forum at INFORMS. “I am also thankful for her leadership in recruiting new students to ISE, where she is one of our excellent role models and mentors,” said Swann. Her contributions to students are significant, both in the classroom and through extensive mentoring.”
This award, in Mayorga’s eyes, is not just recognition of her work in research, leadership and service, but as a reminder that there is more to do. “It is a huge responsibility,” she said. “I need to make sure to continue to serve and promote the field and be a role model for the younger generation.”
Tiffany Sargent, ISE Distinguished Alumna, also received the IISE Fellows Award for her collaboration with others and extensive volunteer work. “She gives freely of her time to ISE, Chalmers University (Sweden), the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers and the Junior League,” Paul Cohen, ISE Edgar S. Woolard Distinguished Professor, stated. Sargeant recognizes this award as honoring her work and celebrating the support she gives and receives from others. “I think of this award as a shared recognition with the people who invested in me or gave me an opportunity to try something new,” she said.
With this recognition, Sargent took a step back to reflect on the journey from graduate school at NC State to her career. “I received such amazing support and mentorship over the course of my career,” she explained. During her reflection, Sargent wanted to continue to share advice with students and engineers. “Being a technologist and engineer puts you on a pathway to be a lifelong learner,” she stated.
“Be flexible on where your career takes you. I like to think of this as “be the pebble” and go where the stream carries you. Sometimes it is more fruitful and adventurous than climbing a mountain to the top as the stream may take you faster to the other side.” It is essential to pay attention to new opportunities because they constantly arise. “If you stick to a specific agenda, you may miss something, or your destination may not be there when you arrive,” she explained.
The ISE department is proud to have an impressive group of people representing NC State ISE. Many people behind the scenes help award nominations come to fruition. “I would like to acknowledge the work of nominators such as Paul Cohen and Jim Wilson, ISE staff, and letter writers,” said Swann. “Each of them contributes their time and energy. These people have helped create a long list of NC State ISE faculty and alumni who are IISE Fellows, which only speaks highly of the program.” “You judge a program’s quality by its people,” Cohen stated. “Our faculty and graduates have contributed professionally to the discipline and employers technically but have also promoted the profession and served the nation through their service.”