Prabhu awarded Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— Vittal Prabhu, a professor in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State, has been awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship by the J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board.

A longtime professor with a focus in manufacturing and service enterprises, Prabhu will be traveling to India to complete the Fulbright fellowship during the 2018-19 academic year. 

Prabhu will primarily spend his time at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Bangalore, where he will conduct much of his research alongside Sachit Rao, an assistant professor at IIIT Bangalore. He will also spend some time teaching at the institute.  

The research project for which he was granted the Fulbright Fellowship is titled: “Smart Systems Engineering: Applications in Manufacturing and Service Industries.” 

Smart systems engineering focuses on the sensing, networking and computing of various systems and products in order to automate them. Prabhu plans to study this automation, as well as the impact that it will likely have on supply chains in the future. 

“There’s going to be a huge wave of automation in the coming years that is going to automate both physical and cognitive tasks,” Prabhu said. “Various estimates indicate that as much as one-third of the work that we do as humans could be automated in the next 30 years. That’s a lot of automation that’s possible. So how do we engineer these systems?”

That is what Prabhu and Rao are looking to find out through this research. 

Having worked on smart systems throughout his career, Prabhu’s work will focus on three main research challenges: integration of control-theoretic and machine learning algorithms, modeling impact of additional sensors, and modeling cloud computing performance. 

“My previous research has been to look at this in the factories, in the manufacturing and supply chain context,” Prabhu said. “I’ll be extending my work in these areas, which has been primarily mathematical, and combining it with machine learning to offer new ways to control these systems,” Prabhu said. 

The Fulbright-Nehru Scholar Grant is jointly funded by the U.S. and Indian governments. It aims to provide U.S. faculty, researchers and professionals the opportunity to teach and conduct research at an Indian institution.

Prabhu will return to his current position within the Marcus department for the 2019-20 academic year. 


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Pamela Krewson Wertz 



Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

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