Professor Shiv Kapoor: continuing education through mentorship

Charlotte Collins

Remembered fondly by many IE graduates, Professor Shiv Kapoor is an important part of the legacy of Industrial Engineering at Illinois. When Industrial Engineering merged with General Engineering to become ISE in the early part of the millennium, Kapoor remained in the Department now known as Mechanical Science and Engineering. Nevertheless, he remains an important part of the ISE extended family, and a key architect of the Industrial Engineering degrees.


Kapoor’s time at Illinois began in 1979 as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. The professional society honors, chair positions and teaching awards he’s amassed since then are enough to constitute several careers’ worth of hard work. He has been named the Grayce Wicall Gauthier Chair in Mechanical Science and Engineering, Associate Head for Graduate Programs in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, James W. Bayne Professor in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and has received multiple awards and chair positions within the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, along with several public service honors to round out his list of achievements.


Despite advancing the field through decades of work, Professor Kapoor finds himself still, happily, in a similar routine to the one he began here with. 

“I love research for sure. But teaching classroom is always rewarding and I’m still teaching it, and that’s why I haven’t retired yet,” says Kapoor.

In addition to instructing both undergraduate and graduate level courses, Kapoor also conducts research on manufacturing with his graduate and PhD students.

This plaque displays signatures left by graduates of Professor Kapoor and former colleague, the late Professor Richard DeVor.
This plaque displays signatures left by graduates of Professor Kapoor and former colleague, the late Professor Richard DeVor.

The field focuses on approaching manufacturing operations scientifically: analyzing certain areas of manufacturing process modeling as well as process automation. Such analysis is aimed at developing a science-based knowledge of the component processes, with the overarching goal of boosting both productivity and quality of operations.

His work in manufacturing started out at the macro level. Kapoor spent the first 20 years of his academic life in macro manufacturing before what he describes as “the big shift” in the field presented a new opportunity for him to reassess and change his research focus.

“We realized that there was a lot of push in the nanomanufacturing area, and then we realized that before we could do really nano manufacturing, there’s a gap between macro and nano and that was micro manufacturing, and that's why we got into this, and realized that not much work has been done,” says Kapoor. “We did a survey, visited a number of research labs around the world, and found that this is a very exciting, new area.”

He still feels the field is full of promise for the near future.

“[There are] tremendous opportunities in manufacturing, you can really take advantage of the technology,” says Kapoor. “Industrial engineers really can integrate systems engineering, involving the processes as well as quality and productivity emphasis. So there is a lot more to be done in this area.”

Kapoor stays close to his work even outside the classroom: he feels professional societies are “essential” to the work of an industrial engineer, and has dedicated much of his career to participating in them. He belongs to the Industrial Engineering Society and the Mechanical Engineering Professional Society, which he has been associated with for the last 40 years. He also chairs a publications committee, which manages 29 journals. For over a decade, Kapoor was the student advisor to the University’s chapter of Alpha Pi Mu, an honors society for industrial engineering.

His love of mentorship stems from a desire to never let his education end, and through teaching, he “keeps learning every day.” Kapoor is driven to match his students’ enthusiasm, which inspires him to continue his own work.

“[Students] are anxious to learn, so it’s always that whatever you have, you can give,” says Kapoor. “I always think the students are smarter than me, that’s always the attitude I had in teaching. So I put my hundred percent or more in the classroom.”

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