Soyster named 2018 Outstanding Engineering Alumnus


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Allen (Al) Soyster, a Penn State alumnus and who later became head of the Penn State Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME), has been named a recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Engineering Alumni (OEA) Award by the Penn State College of Engineering.

Established in 1966, the OEA Award is the highest honor bestowed by the college and recognizes graduates who have reached exceptional levels of professional achievement. 

A native of Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, Soyster is one of 12 recipients who will be honored at a ceremony to be held April 23 at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus. He is the son of the late Boyd Soyster and the late Helen Soyster Delaney.

“Penn State, I’ve always told people, was a place that changed my outlook and opportunities in life, and I’m forever grateful for all it has provided me,” Soyster said. 

After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Penn State in 1965, Soyster spent a short time working for IBM. Following that, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in operations research from Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University, respectively, and returned to Penn State to begin his career as an assistant professor 1972.

From 1973-1975, he served as an associate professor at Temple University and he moved on to Virginia Tech where he was an associate professor and then professor. 

Soyster then returned “home” to serve as a professor and department head of IME from 1981-1996. During that time, he was integral in the establishment of the 1992 National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project that is now the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory. Since its founding in 1995, over 5,000 Penn State students have participated in 1,250 capstone design projects through the Learning Factory.

In 1997, Soyster left Penn State to become the dean of engineering at Northeastern University. There he served the college from 1997 until 2014, during which time he saw the University rise from a U.S. News & World Report tier 3 school to a top-100 program among national research universities.

In 2006, Soyster was appointed NSF’s director of engineering education and research centers, and he retired in 2014 as an emeritus professor at Northeastern. 

Soyster’s most notable recognitions include the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Academy of Engineering Gordon Award for Engineering Innovation in Education and the IIE Albert Holzman Outstanding Educator Award. He is a fellow and past president of the IIE.

Soyster and his wife Sharon, a Penn State alumna, live in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. They have two children and four grandchildren. 


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Carolyn Cushwa 



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.

We are Innovators. We are Makers. We are Excellence in Engineering. We are Penn State IME.

The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

310 Leonhard Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-7601

FAX: 814-863-4745