I Am An Engineer

“I want to help health care professionals gain confidence in solving the world’s health challenges through the power of data-driven insights.”

Ning Liu

Name: Ning Liu

Hometown: Handan, China

Status: Fourth-year Ph.D. candidate focusing on health care analytics and service engineering

Undergraduate degree: Traffic and Transportation

Research interests: Data mining in health care, interpretable machine learning

Adviser: Soundar Kumara

In his own words: “Engineering has always been a fascinating field to me, and when an aptitude test suggested I wouldn’t be suited for the field, I thought ‘what better than to work hard and prove it wrong.’ Engineering makes things happen, and you will never get bored being an engineer.”

“I want to create processes, products, and technologies that positively impact human life.”

Scarlett Miller

Name: Scarlett Miller

Hometown: Papillion, Nebraska

Status: Associate Professor

Graduate degree: Industrial Engineering

Research interests: Engineering design, design cognition, medical product design, human factors

In her own words: “I became an engineer to make a difference in the world by helping create the next generation of products and technologies that improve human life, safety, and well being. Being a faculty member, I not only get to make this impact, but also train the future of the field and inspire and encourage others to pursue their dreams. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing my students achieve their goals and make their own impact.”

“I get to bridge the gap between the engineering and biology fields through my research.”

Shantanab Dinda

Name: Shantanab Dinda

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Status: First-year Ph.D. student focusing on manufacturing

Undergraduate degrees: Manufacturing Engineering and Chemistry

Research interests: Additive manufacturing, tissue engineering, and bioprinting

Advisers: Ibrahim Ozbolat and Tim Simpson

In his own words: “I love designing and building things, and my interest in subjects such as mathematics and physics pushed me to become an engineering student. Becoming a manufacturing engineering student allowed me to learn more about product design and modern manufacturing processes, piquing my interest in research in such areas. I worked in additive manufacturing as a master’s student, and am now working in the field of bioprinting as a Ph.D. student. Penn State is driven towards research in such upcoming areas of research, and the flexibility of working with faculty and students from a variety of departments allows me to learn new things every day. What drives me every day is the chance to study and work at such an amazing university, and the possibility of making a difference in the future.”

“I get to enhance my skills for understanding, evaluating, and improving human work”

Jingwen Li

Name: Jingwen (Jess) Li

Hometown: China

Status: Fifth-year Ph.D. candidate focusing on human factors and ergonomics

Graduate degree: Bioengineering

Research interests: Human performance, cognitive systems, behavioral analysis

Adviser: Ling Rothrock

In her own words: “My passion is to better understand how the human body and brain work, and how their behaviors would vary according to different tasks or environments. My current research with Dr. Ling Rothrock focuses on how humans perceive and process dynamic information. It’s challenging yet rewarding work and I am very excited to analyze our results.”

“I am lucky to be surrounded by creative minds as I work on engineered systems that can benefit society.”

Saurabh Basu

Name: Saurabh Basu

Hometown: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Status: Assistant Professor

Graduate degree: Industrial Engineering

Research interests: Manufacturing, Materials Physics, Computer Vision

In his own words: “I was inspired to become an engineer from the TV show ‘Extreme Engineering.’ It was so interesting to see that man-made systems could do so much and benefit society. The thing that excites me most about graduate students at Penn State while working on research projects is their creativity and dedication to success.”

“I get to work with cutting-edge technologies and apply them in a wide variety of fields and disciplines.”

Kevin Lesniak

Name: Kevin Lesniak

Hometown: Butler, PA

Status: Second-year Ph.D. Student focusing on human factors and ergonomics

Undergraduate degree: Computer Science

Research interests: Virtual Reality, Big Data Analysis, Machine Learning, Machine Vision, Computer Graphics

Adviser: Conrad Tucker

In his own words: “I wanted to become an engineer because I love working on new technologies. I’ve always found computers fascinating and virtual reality provides so many opportunities for innovation. I am very excited about the interest shown by Penn State in virtual reality for academic uses and continued research. The resources and use cases available at Penn State provide new perspectives and research questions that will hopefully lead to innovative breakthroughs.”

“I work on research that will impact engineering education at Penn State and beyond.”

Elizabeth Starkey

Name: Elizabeth Starkey

Hometown: Westminster, MD

Status: Fourth-year Ph.D. student focusing on human factors

Undergraduate degree: Computer Engineering and Applied Mathematics

Research interests: I am interested in understanding how the way we present information to students (i.e., through technology) impacts learning.

Adviser: Scarlett Miller

In her own words: “Since I was a child I have always wanted to redesign products or create new ones to make everyday life easier. With a background in software development, and a love for education, I decided to put the two together and research how virtual tools impact learning and creativity in engineering students. After extensive searching, I found Dr. Miller, who happened to have similar research interests, and we’ve been working together ever since.”

“I work on pushing more creative ideas through the ‘gates’ in the design process.”

Xuan Zheng

Name: Xuan Zheng

Hometown: Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China

Status: Fourth-year Ph.D. candidate focusing on human factors

Undergraduate degree: Safety Engineering

Research interests: Risk-taking in engineering design industry, concept selection, and user experience

Adviser: Scarlett Miller

In her own words: “I took a course called ‘An Introduction to Human Factors and Ergonomics’ as an undergraduate, which made me realize what I really want to do — research and design how people interact with technology. That is why I came to Penn State and became a Ph.D. student in this program. Now, I’m being advised by Dr. Miller and studying how R&D engineers’ risk attitudes influence concept selection during the conceptual design process in industry. Understanding this information helps researchers better understand R&D engineers’ design behaviors and helps upper management teams in companies develop organizational culture and manage creative human resources. Our ultimate goal is to push more creative ideas out of the ‘gates’ so that those creative ideas can be converted to reality. In the future, I would like to find an industry job as a user experience researcher to not only investigate, but also participate in the design process.”

“I enjoy understanding and modeling complex real world supply chains.”

Tharun Mohan

Name: Tharun Mohan

Hometown: Salem, Tamil Nadu, India

Status: Second-year M.S. student focusing on predictive analytics and inventory optimization

Undergraduate degree: Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Research interests: Block chains, predictive analytics, supply chain planning, and optimization

Adviser: Soundar Kumara

In his own words: “The definition of an industrial engineer has evolved beyond shop floor manufacturing into other streams of engineering. This new multi-faceted version of an IE, along with rapid innovation in disruptive technologies in the last 10 years, motivated me to join the Penn State IE program. My current research is on application of block chains in asset tracking along a supply chain.”

“I get to work with researchers across disciplines on issues that make a difference or have an impact on society.”

Jingjing Li

Name: Jingjing Li

Hometown: Tianjin, China

Status: William and Wendy Korb Early Career Professor (Associate Professor)

Graduate degree: Mechanical Engineering

Research interests: Manufacturing, materials processing, and characterization

In her own words: “I love to work with students in engineering because I can mentor and inspire them with imagination, share my knowledge, and encourage their growth. I enjoy seeing and celebrating my students’ successes in the development of their careers.”

“I love working on real problems that require creative and eclectic solutions.”

Jesse Bukenberger

Name: Jesse Bukenberger

Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California

Status: Third-year Ph.D. dual-degree student in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

Undergraduate degree: Industrial Engineering

Research interests: Dynamic decision methods for planning electric power systems in stochastic environments

Adviser: Mort Webster

In his own words: “I became interested in industrial engineering because it’s so multidisciplinary; so many things are relevant when making complex decisions! My current projects are related to planning investments in transmission lines, but the methods are useful for planning sequential decisions in uncertain environments in general. It’s exciting to work on such challenging issues alongside the people in the power industry who are actively looking for better solutions.”

“I am proud to be close to becoming part of the oldest alumni group of IEs on the planet.”

Barbara Venegas

Name: Bárbara Venegas

Hometown: Temuco, Chile

Status: Fourth-year Ph.D. candidate and Fulbright Scholar focusing on production, supply chain, service engineering

Undergraduate degree: Industrial Engineering and Computer Sciences

Research interests: Supply chain engineering, retail engineering, transportation and logistics

Adviser: Jose Ventura

In her own words: “I always liked math, puzzles, LEGOs and Rubik’s Cubes … becoming an engineer was only logical.”

“I want to be at the forefront of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies that help create faster, smarter, and more efficient processes.”

Rakshith Badarinath

Name: Rakshith Badarinath

Hometown: Tumkur, Karnataka, India

Status: Second-year Ph.D. student focused on manufacturing

Undergraduate degree: Electrical Engineering

Research interests: Additive manufacturing (3D printing), control, and automation

Adviser: Vittal Prabhu

In his own words: “Ever since I was a child, I have been curious as to how things work. I was exposed to manufacturing at an early age (my dad back in India owns a manufacturing company) and I was always excited to learn about machines, how they work, and what can be done to improve their productivity. This motivated me to closely follow technological advances in manufacturing. I prefer hands-on practical work where I can see the results (as opposed to theoretical formulations, etc). Currently, I am developing a robotics-based additive manufacturing system that includes designing control systems, electronic circuit integrations, and much more. I am hoping to develop a system that is advanced and smarter than what industry currently uses.”

“I have the opportunity to work with professors and industry so that my research has the most impact possible.”

Connor Jennings

Name: Connor Jennings

Hometown: Homewood, IL

Status: Third-year Ph.D. candidate focusing on data mining (production, logistics, and service systems)

Undergraduate degrees: Industrial Engineering and Economics

Research interests: Using data mining to predict when products will become technically obsolete in a market and when products will become too worn out to function properly

Adviser: Janis Terpenny

In his own words: “In general, engineering gives you the tools and methods to solve problems, but industrial engineering also teaches you to identify problems in large and complex systems. The combination of these two skills, identifying and solving problems, makes Penn State industrial engineering graduates uniquely positioned to make a large impact wherever they work.”

“I want to be a catalyst for other young women in STEM fields.”

Hong-En Chen

Name: Hong-En Chen

Hometown: Madison, WI

Status: Third-year Ph.D. candidate focusing on human factors and ergonomics

Undergraduate degree: Biochemistry

Research interests: Cognitive systems, human factors, decision making in design, engineering education

Adviser: Scarlett Miller

In her own words: “I’ve always been interested in understanding how people think and learn, what changes their minds, and why they make various decisions. My current research with Dr. Miller aims to help improve the skills and performance of medical residents in a surgical procedure. We are collaborating with Dr. Jason Moore in mechanical engineering at Penn State and Dr. David Han from the Hershey Medical Center. Our team built a simulation system to expose medical students to various patient anatomies through visual and haptic feedback.”

“I Am An Engineer” is a platform to showcase some of the extraordinarily talented industrial engineering graduate students at Penn State, and the faculty that are helping to shape their careers.

Here are their stories, in their own words.

Follow along here or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter by searching #IAmAnEngineer.

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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