Conference to Focus on Improving Engineering Decisions

Areas of operations and management strategies to be discussed

7 October 2011

There are engineers, and there are engineering managers. To discuss how to make better decisions together, 600 engineers, managers, and academics plan to meet in Singapore from 6 to 9 December at the annual IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management. The IEEE Singapore Section is sponsoring the event.

The impetus for the conference, now in its fifth year, came from members of the IEEE Technology Management Council’s Singapore chapter.

“They saw a need for a multidisciplinary conference to link industrial-engineering problem solving with engineering-management decision making,” says IEEE Member Szu Hui Ng, the program co-chair. “They also wanted to bring together researchers and practitioners from different branches of industrial engineering and engineering management in the rising regions of Asia.”

The conference topics in recent years have centered around developing, managing, and improving global systems and processes under resource constraints in an uncertain global environment. With economic and environmental challenges ahead, those will continue to be central, especially in the areas of operations and management strategies. This year’s topics include decision analysis and methods, supply chain management, e-commerce, and facilities planning and management. Other areas to be covered are human factors, intelligent systems, and operations research.

Keynote speakers are expected from three continents: Daniel Berg of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., D.N.P. Murthy of the University of Queensland in Australia, and Mitchell Tseng of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. They plan to cover, respectively, moving from a manufacturing to a service economy, the challenges of productivity and employment as the geographic center of manufacturing shifts, and reliability management in new products and services.

“These are timely topics, as globalization brings structural changes to many economies,” says Ng, an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the National University of Singapore. “These talks should shed some insights on how industrial engineers can manage the challenges of these global changes and lead in these transformations.”

Also important, says IEEE Fellow Min Xie, professor of industrial engineering at the City University of Hong Kong, is a session with editors of leading industrial-engineering and engineering-management journals. The session is designed to introduce researchers to the editors and inform aspiring young researchers, who might not be familiar with the publication process, how it works. Xie is one of the conference’s co-founders.

The conference, says IEEE Senior Member Kah Hin Chai, a member of the organizing committee, “is more open-minded than many” about authors whose command of written English does not match the originality and significance of their work. Rather than have their papers rejected, such authors are advised to revise their language carefully or seek professional assistance. In Chai’s view, this attitude toward language is a major reason researchers from emerging countries participate enthusiastically—even passionately—in IEEM, though most participants come from the more developed countries in Asia and elsewhere. 

“At IEEM, academics and industrial participants share state-of-the-art methodological developments and best practicesand recent advances and challenges in industrial engineering and engineering management,” adds Ng.

The organizers strive to limit the conference to about 600 participants, large enough to attract high-quality papers yet still conducive to close interactions. To promote these interactions, says Xie, “between sessions we want it to be like a party for the participants, with plenty of chances to get together and talk, eat good meals and delicious snacks during the breaks, attend an awards banquet at the end, and go home with souvenir conference jackets.”

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