Students participate in annual IISE Regional Conference

Annie Goetz and Emily Scott
5/3/2017

This February, 20 ISE students traveled to the University of Illinois at Chicago for the annual IISE Regional Conference.

The conference focused on professional development for industrial and systems engineers from throughout the region. The ISE students had the opportunity to interact with other students from places ranging from South Dakota to Wisconsin and learn about their experiences within the field.

Students participated in plant tours, had a networking lunch with industry representatives, attended the technical paper competition, and engaged in workshops on topics such as ergonomics, data science, manufacturing and healthcare.

The conference concluded with a banquet and closing speaker, Brad Mueller, COO of Healthsmart. Mueller spoke about how industrial and systems engineering has shaped his career and provided insight on the different tools that ISE students use and will use in the future.

All participants attended a plant tour and two workshops. One of the most notable plant tours that was offered was a behind-the-scenes view of the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago.

Students were given the opportunity to meet with the head of operations for the aquarium and see how the aquarium is run from a day-to-day operations standpoint. They also got insight on the renovations that the Shedd Aquarium recently went through and a great view of the Chicago skyline on the roof of the aquarium.

“My favorite part of the plant tour was going on the roof of the Shedd Aquarium,” said Annie Goetz, senior in IE. “Aside from the fact that I can now say that I’ve been on the roof of the Shedd Aquarium, I also learned about how they were able to drive costs down on the renovation of the roof and learn about the impact of the Shedd Aquarium on the city of Chicago as a whole.”

Every year, students attending the conference also have the opportunity to compete in the technical paper competition. The technical paper is generally written based on an intern project or senior design projects.

Jigar Patel, IE senior, was among eight competitors in this year’s technical paper competition.

His paper, titled “Using Linear Programming to Assess the Economic Benefit of Adding a Warehouse to a Lumber Distribution Network,” stemmed from his ISE senior design project.

The project focused on whether it was economically beneficial to add a distribution warehouse for the company, and if so, where to locate that warehouse for optimal results. Using linear programming, Patel and his senior design team were able to answer these questions and propose solutions to the company.

Jigar Patel presents his paper at the technical paper competition.
Jigar Patel presents his paper at the technical paper competition.

 “The technical paper competition was a fantastic platform to showcase what IE students across the region have been working on,” he said. “I was really impressed with everyone's work and it gave me insights into new areas in which IE methodologies are utilized.”

Patel won first prize in the competition, and will have the opportunity to compete at the national conference being held in Pittsburgh in May.

He said he was very happy to have won and to have the chance to participate in the competition.

"I received a lot of positive feedback on my presentation from both the judges, fellow competitors, and the audience," he said. "In the end, it was great to represent UIUC and ISE!" 

The conference’s workshops were hosted by numerous companies and organizations. Attendees got the opportunity to learn about manufacturing within Nestle, and the different components of their organization and ergonomics from Zurich, and different examples of ergonomic concerns from around the world in his consulting.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to do a personality test and see how they function best in the workplace, as well as tips and tools to work with different personalities.

These workshops gave some students the opportunity to learn more about topics that they haven’t discovered yet in their class.

“Attending the IISE conference reassured me that I am in the right major,” said Julia Santos, freshman in ISE. “It made me realize that I've always had a mindset to try and make things more efficient, and this is the perfect major to be in to improve upon problem-solving, team building, and hearing the talks and going to the workshops to listen to professionals in the workforce is truly motivating, especially when going through freshman year.”

In addition to the professional development opportunities that the conference provided, students were able to explore downtown Chicago further.  For ISE students who don’t live in the Chicago area, this gave them a unique experience to spend time in Chicago and explore the area.

“It was awesome being able to network with students from other schools and meet people within our own department,” said Connie Hong, senior in IE.

Seven ISE students will be traveling with Patel to Pittsburgh to participate in the national IISE conference, being held May 20-23, to learn more about industrial and systems engineers, meet students and professionals from across the country, and to support Patel as he competes in the national technical paper competition.

“We really enjoyed being active in IISE beyond just our school, so now we are working to send a group of students to the IISE 2017 National Conference. I am so excited to travel to Pittsburgh to make more connections and learn more about ISE fields,” said Lara Flasch, senior in IE. “It will be a great professional networking experience and a lot of fun. We are especially excited to support Jigar as he competes at the next level of the technical paper competition.”

Student Quotes:

“It was awesome being able to network with students from other schools and meet people within our own department!” - Connie Hong, IE senior

 

"The technical paper competition was a fantastic platform to showcase what IE students across the region have been working on. I was really impressed with everyone's work and it gave me insights into new areas in which IE methodologies are utilized. As far as my entry, I didn't really know how to prepare. I must say a big 'Thank-You' to King for helping me refine my technical paper and my presentation. Similarly, I must extend a warm 'Thanks' to all of the UIUC conference attendees for giving me feedback on my presentation. I don't think I could've done it without their support!" - Jigar Patel, IE senior

 

“This conference was a great reminder of the variety of career opportunities I’ll have as an IE” - John Mancinelli, IE senior

 

“I'm so thankful for the opportunity to go to my first IISE Conference because it reassured me that I am in the right major. It made me realize that I've always had a mindset to try and make things more efficient, and this is the perfect major to be in to improve upon problem-solving, team building, and hearing the talks and going to the workshops to listen to professionals in the workforce is truly motivating, especially when going through freshman year.” - Julia Santos, SED freshman

 

“This year we were able to send a record-high 20 students to regional conference! It was such an incredible experience to attend with such a big group. We really enjoyed being active in IISE beyond just our school, so now we are working to send a group of students to the IISE 2017 National Conference. I am so excited to travel to Pittsburgh to make more connections and learn more about ISE fields. It will be a great professional networking experience and a lot of fun. We are especially excited to support Jigar as he competes at the next level of the technical paper competition.” - Lara Flasch, IE senior