Category Archives: Industrial and Systems Engineering

Meaningful Projects in Industrial and Systems Engineering: More Than Just Homework

Cami Jones

Cami Jones,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 30 March 2018

Consider this post a public “thank you” to the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department – specifically those professors who have taken the time to create meaningful work for us.

Perhaps somewhat oddly, I’d like to start out by admitting that I’ve been known to say that I can’t wait to get out into the “real world” and start working on projects that matter and that will actually have an impact on the world around me. (AKA, it would be nice if I felt that all the time and energy I put into my homework was actually worth something!) I’ve started to realize though that saying this does a great disservice to some of the very meaningful projects I’ve been challenged by my professors to complete over the past five years.

In an effort to right the wrongs of my complaining, I hope that you’ll enjoy reading about some of my favorite assignments below. I hope that you’ll also realize much earlier than I did that there is opportunity to impact people and communities even through homework and class assignments.

West 82 Check-Out Process Improvement (ISE 3340: Work Design)
Some of the main concepts covered in Work Design are time studies, analysis of work processes, and balancing workloads for operators.

West 82 is a quick-service dining option at Baker Student Center on campus which is known to experience periods of high demand around lunch time on weekdays. During these periods of high demand, excessive queuing can become a problem and cause lengthy check-out times that make it difficult for students to get their food and then head out to class on time.

West 82

Our project was to observe and assess the check-out process with the end goal of providing recommendations to West 82 management to improve the flow of customers through queues during peak hours. This was my first experience completing a time study, identifying and working with stakeholders of an operation, and presenting results to a real client. Looking back, this project was probably the best preparation I had for my internship at Disney doing very similar studies!

Analysis of FEMA Performance (ISE 4930: Humanitarian Logistics)
Humanitarian Logistics is a course that exposes students to the notion that responses to natural and man-made disasters are both similar and different to commercial logistics activities. As such, it is possible to model these responses and to optimize them like businesses optimize the performance of their logistics networks (with a few key distinctions). These optimization models and their results can then be used to influence public policy concerning future responses.

FEMA
FEMA

For this course, each student selected a topic related to humanitarian logistics to research for the semester with the goal of “adding something” to the field. I chose to analyze the performance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from its inception to the present and make recommendations on how the organization could improve moving forward. By the end of the course, I had completed my first research report that (with extra help and polishing) has the potential to be published in a scholarly journal and actually – maybe – impact this policies governing FEMA in the future!

Alden Library Automation (ISE 4311: Applied Systems Engineering)
Applied Systems Engineering is a course that discusses the importance of thoughtfully planning a system based on specific design requirements. The course stresses the importance of identifying and working with key stakeholders, obtaining specific design criteria, understanding the potential impacts of a project on a variety environmental factors, considering and planning for a system’s lifecycle, and meeting critical milestones.

Our team project was working with Alden Library and the Engineering Librarian to improve their operations through automation. In an age where the internet seems to have all the answers and printed text seems “old school”, the library is trying to add value by way of expertise to stay relevant to the community. To do this effectively, they need more time to do “value-added” tasks!

Library Current and Future State

A main goal of this project was to decrease the amount of time that library staff spent doing mundane tasks (like checking-in books and reshelving them) so that they would be free to do more interesting and meaningful work like helping students. We met with our stakeholders, observed the check-in and reshelving processes, interviewed staff, and eventually recommended both short-term and long-term options to improve the process. We then presented our recommendations to our client for their consideration.

Library Recommendations

As a side note, you may think that automation equipment is unnecessary in a library—or even that it is unrealistic! To be honest, I felt the same way until we dug into this project. What actually convinced me that it was viable was a chance encounter with the Greene County Public Library (in my hometown) where they had just installed automation equipment for the purposes described above. It was amazing and incredibly timely to see their equipment in action. While I couldn’t find a video from our library, this
system at the Hancock County Public Library
is almost identical.

Understanding Human Trafficking as a Supply Chain to Identify Methods of High-Impact Disruption (ISE 4325: Supply Chain Engineering)
Supply Chain Engineering is a course about designing effective supply chains and learning about various techniques to optimize the design of these networks to fit with the strategy of a business.
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I am currently taking this class, and our semester project allowed us to select a topic related to supply chain engineering to research in detail and find a way to “add to” the field (much like the project in Humanitarian Logistics…likely because the courses are taught by the same professor!). My partner and I decided to look into how illicit human trafficking could be mapped onto a supply chain framework. It’s definitely a heavy topic to study, but the implications of understanding how illicit supply chains like those of human trafficking and drug trafficking are organized are key to breaking them down.

The action of intercepting and preventing the movement of a prohibited commodity or person is called “interdiction” and is actually a sub-field of supply chain research. Normally in supply chain engineering, the goal is to optimize the performance of a given network. In interdiction, the goal is to identify the most critical links in a supply chain in order to take high-impact action against them and eventually cripple the supply chain.



So there you have it—just a few of my favorites! And of course, a big thank you to our ISE department and professors for some great project experiences!

The Road to Job Acceptance: Personal Experience and Tips from an Engineering Undergraduate

Cami Jones

Cami Jones,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 26 March 2018

Now that I’ve finally found and accepted a full-time job, it seems like an appropriate time to write about the process of actually finding a job. For all of you metrics people out there, here’s a quick “by the numbers” about my full-time job search.


  • 16 companies

  • 11 distinct resumes (includes revised versions & job-specific modifications)

  • 27 online applications

  • 4 candidate pre-screening “intelligence”/ “ethics” tests

  • 8 first-round interviews

  • 5 second-round interviews

  • 4 final interviews

  • 4 job offers

  • 20+ hours of driving to/from interviews

  • 7 automatic rejections

  • 12 applications still “pending”


I don’t know how it reads, but it sure did feel exhausting! And I was fortunate—I know some of my friends have applied to 100+ jobs online and are only just beginning to get interviews. For what it’s worth, I’ve compiled my own list of top 3 full-time job search tips below.

Students and parents alike, please note the following: online job searching is HARD even for well-qualified students. I believe that it’s imperative to “play the game” in a smart way to make the most of efforts made applying to jobs…otherwise it’s easy to get discouraged! It is my hope that the tips below will help serve as an introductory guide to “playing smart”.

Cami’s Top 3 Full-Time Engineering Job Search Tips:
1. Know yourself. It’s important to know your skills/interests AND weaknesses/dislikes when searching for and applying to jobs. Trust me, it’s no use to anyone if you apply to a job that you’re unqualified to perform or that you will be unhappy doing. Look for jobs that both appeal to your interests and require skills that you feel confident you have. It’s a plus if you actually
have prior experience using these skills from an internship or co-op!

Avoid applying for jobs that sound boring or require too many skills you don’t possess. At the end of the day, if you get an interview for a job you want to be excited (not reluctant to “have to” interview) and you want to feel ready to knock it out of the park – not worry that they will discover you’re unqualified!

2. Know the system. The truth is that if you’re applying for jobs online, it is highly unlikely that a human will be the first to view your resume. These days, there are sneaky Human Resources (HR) software tools called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that will “read” your resume and spit out a summary for the HR manager before anyone will see it. This summary needs to match the specific job description for you to get a call to interview…or to even get a real person to
review your qualifications!

If you’ve heard that you should make your resume “visually appealing” that’s still true if you are handing it out (or emailing it) to prospective employers. However, the formatting that makes your resume appealing may be a big reason that the ATS will reject your application! Many of these ATS systems cannot process documents with sophisticated formatting and therefore will not be able to read/summarize much of your content. AKA: even if you are perfectly qualified, you won’t get a call to interview!

Be SURE to create and use a plain text (unformatted) version of your resume to be submitted online. A helpful resource for creating a resume that both an
ATS and human can easily read can be found here (in step 2).

Once I started following these ATS guidelines, I started getting calls to interview. Before I used these techniques—crickets. I highly recommend doing your own research about ATS!

3. Use your network. If someone you know has connections to a job that you are interested in, reach out to them! From a company’s perspective, if someone who already works for them recommends someone for a job, it shows that the person is already trusted at some level. This takes some pressure off of the HR folks looking to hire for a position.

From your perspective, in many cases you can skip that pesky online application (and ATS scan) and have your resume placed in the hands of someone in HR who might actually read it! Again, if someone is willing to help you with this—take them up on it. In all transparency, this is how I got my foot in the door for three of my five internships and even the full-time position I accepted!

At Ohio University, we have a number of networking opportunities. The best, in my opinion, is building relationships with older students and alumni while still in school. Building up a good reputation with those entering the workforce before you for being a hard worker and someone who is easy to talk to can go a long way in obtaining your “dream job” later on!

Again, this is how I heard about the full-time job I accepted. An alumnus from our ISE department reached out through one of our professors to see if anyone was interested in working for Akron Children’s Hospital as an Operational Excellence Analytics Specialist and I jumped on the opportunity to send my resume her way! She sent my resume to her boss, and I had an interview set up a few days later. The rest is history.

Best of luck in your future (or current) job search!

Learning Python

Cami Jones

Cami Jones,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 21 January 2018

Would you take a class on a Saturday? What if it was just a one-time class, but it was on the first Saturday back from winter break after a week of new classes? I’m guessing it depends on what you expect to learn in the class.

Believe it or not, I spent my first Saturday afternoon back on campus in a computer lab learning the basics of computer programming in Python. Perhaps the more surprising thing is that I was joined by twenty other students and two professors from our Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) department who were all there for the same reason I was—to learn something new.

The Python workshop I attended was the first of its kind hosted by our chapter of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE). Eric May, an alumnus of our ISE department (and current machine learning researcher for J.P. Morgan Chase in Columbus, OH) volunteered his time and talents to help us better understand the applications of Python, a widely-used programming language, in the context of industrial engineering.

To me, this workshop was a testament to more than just the growing importance of understanding general programming. I saw that both students and professors in our department truly value continuing their education and working to understand how to solve problems in new ways. I also saw the great impact of an alumnus spending time back on campus to teach others about their passions to prepare them for the future.

So now would you take a class on a Saturday? If it’s hosted by an industry professional taking their time to share their knowledge, I highly encourage it!

P.S. Eric was also an Engineering Ambassador during his time at Ohio University!

Eco-Challenge: Aquatic Center

Landon Rehmar

Landon Rehmar,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 26 November 2017

This semester I had had the amazing opportunity to be selected into the Robe Leadership Institute. RLI is a unique course for graduating seniors in the Russ College. The purpose of the course is to develop engineering students’ leadership skill-set through valuable leadership insight and techniques. The course is led by one of the best professors in the Russ College, Dr. Bayless, a faculty member of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

One part of the RLI is a project called the Eco-Challenge. The Eco-Challenge is a competition to come up with sustainability projects around campus. It is a unique project with teams made of a combination of engineering students from RLI, business students from Select Leaders, and a wide variety of students from the Cutler Scholars Program.

This challenge helped everyone learn how to work in a diverse group and practice leadership skills. The interdisciplinary teams required us to work with students with entirely different backgrounds, mindsets, and problem solving skills.

My team’s project was to retrofit the aquatic center with new high efficiency LEDs. The project was a great learning experience and a huge success: if our recommendations are implemented we projected that the University will save over $14,000 and over 350,000 lbs of CO2 per year.

The competition concluded with presentations to our professors and various stakeholders around campus. My team ended up taking second place and on top of that, our project will most likely be implemented.

Eco-Challenge

This course and project have allowed me to learn things about leadership that most students don’t get the opportunity to learn. I really enjoyed working on the Eco-Challenge and would highly encourage anyone with the opportunity to take RLI to do so!

Bishop Visit: Liturgy & Lunch

Cami Jones

Cami Jones,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 7 November 2017

This past Sunday, the Ohio University Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) was blessed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy served by His Grace, Bishop Paul of the Orthodox Church in America, with the St. Ephraim’s chapel community in Athens, OH.

It was an unseasonably warm, bright, and colorful November morning as members of the community formally welcomed His Grace with traditional gifts. The parish community brought forth bread and salt, a symbol of hospitality in eastern Europe, while the youth of the church presented flowers. Although the OCF has not been around long enough to have a “traditional” gift of its own, we brought forth fresh fruit for His Grace as a symbol that the OCF is a fruit of the labors of the church community which also aims to be fruitful in growing the faith of college students.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship

As the Divine Liturgy was served, the chapel itself was filled with a special warmth and beauty as community members of all ages and backgrounds came together to joyfully worship our Lord. The incense was especially sweet, the clergy’s vestments shown as with the light of Christ, and the choir offered up beautifully embellished hymns of praise — all to remind us that the Lord is always in our midst.

As college students, it can be so difficult (yet is imperative) to look past the ever-present mountains of school work and social pressures. But it is by doing so that we may be reminded of the Kingdom of God. Only then will we regain our eternal perspective and be renewed in our pursuits to serve our God and our neighbors with love.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship

Thankfully, our community blessed us with an opportunity to do just that. At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, everyone was invited to a luncheon served in honor of His Grace. This was a time of fellowship and relaxation that could not have been more timely — our second round of midterms just ended! We all left the event closer in friendship and renewed in spirit.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship

The OCF is a relatively new student organization on campus that my fiancé and I work closely with and are excited to see growing. The opportunity to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with one of the patriarchs of the Church (who came all the way from Chicago, IL) was a wonderful signal that though we may be a small community, we are always a part of something much larger.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship

Athens Farmers Market

Landon Rehmar

Landon Rehmar,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 20 October 2017

Fall is finally here and the Athens Farmers Market in its prime. Since the beginning of college, I have made a point to get up early every Saturday morning to go. It is one of my favorite things to do in Athens and something every student should take advantage of.

The Athens Farmers Market began many years ago as a handful of farmers selling local produce. It is now one of the largest farmers markets in the state and showcases farmers, orchardists, specialty food producers, bakers, horticulturalists, cheese makers and a variety of other local products.

I always go Saturday mornings, it is open from 9AM-12PM. It is also open Wednesdays from 9AM – 1PM, which is usually difficult for me to make because of classes. It is located on East State St. which is an easy 5-minute drive from campus.

I try to get majority of my food from the Farmers Market. Everything is fresh, locally grown, and reasonably priced. It’s a great way to experience Athens and support the local economy. I usually try and get something new every time.

Most recently, pawpaws were in season, which is a fruit native to Appalachia. For the past three years I have always wanted to try a pawpaw but have never gotten the chance. Luckily, I got to try one a few weeks ago, and it was amazing! It tastes like a cross between a mango and banana, which sounds strange but is something everyone should try.

I have a few staple foods that I buy every week that usually consist of some produce, frozen meet, and salsa. As far as produce goes, I’m always switching things up, but I usually get kale, squash, potatoes, or apples. The local meats are always a difficult decision to choose between; however, it frequently comes down to ground lamb or beef. One of the last things I get before leaving the market is usually salsa, I would recommend the raspberry chipotle, but they are all great.

Really you cant go wrong with anything you get at the Farmers Market. It is one of my favorite things to do and something I know I will miss next
year when I leave Athens.

Professional Conferences: Funding and Value

Cami Jones

Cami Jones,
Senior, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 8 October 2017

As the president of an engineering student organization, one of the things I’m most thankful for that the Russ College provides is funding. Grants through the Russ Vision fund help individuals and groups of students looking to further their education outside of the classroom at design competitions, conferences, and the like throughout the country. Thanks to this funding, it is possible for us to travel to these events even if we don’t personally have the funds to do so—it breaks down barriers.

You might be able to guess why I have funding opportunities on the brain. If you’re thinking that I may be in the middle of filling out a conference proposal to request funding for a group of thirty-six industrial and systems engineering students to attend a conference in February 2018, you’d be right!

IISE logo

Our student group, the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), has received funding to attend this conference for at least the last six years, and I attribute a sizeable amount of my professional network and employment successes to attending the event for the past four years. Now, it’s my turn to make sure that we secure funding again so that this year’s group of students can also benefit from the experience.

Award Photo with Past, Present, and Future IISE Presidents at IISE Annual Conference in 2016 (at Disneyland!)

The IISE Great Lakes Regional Conference is an annual event held on the campus of one of the universities in the region (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan) that has an active chapter of IISE. In the past, I’ve attended this two-day event at Western Michigan University, Purdue University, and Wayne State University.

Ohio University IISE at Wayne State's Conference in 2016 (selfie by Faculty Advisor Dr. Yuan)

Last year, we even had the chance to host the event here at Ohio University!

IISE Great Lakes Regional Conference Planning Committee at Ohio University in 2017

This year, we will be traveling to The Ohio State University for the conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “Digital Transformations: Improving Systems Everywhere” and will focus on how technology and data are changing the role of industrial engineers in industry. I’m a big data nerd, so I am very excited.

Aside from being excited to hear keynote speakers and attend breakout sessions in line with the technology theme, I’m excited to see my IISE friends from the other schools in the region again. Having attended four regional conferences and three national conferences in the last four years, I’ve made some pretty good friends across the region and country. They are “my people” and many of them have helped me grow both as an engineer and as a person.

Thanks to these connections, I’m not worried about finding a job after graduation or knowing what to do with myself. The friends I’ve made at these conferences know my interests and my strengths and are already looking out for me to help start my career.

Now it’s time for me to do my part and ensure that our group can afford to travel to this year’s conference so that our students can continue to build these relationships and experience discussions on the current events impacting the futures of our careers. Thankfully, the Russ College believes in the value of these conference experiences and is always willing to lend a hand. Wish us luck!