Mark S. Daskin

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There is a rich tradition of industrial and operations engineering education and research at the University of Michigan, thanks in no small part to world renowned faculty members like Professor Mark S. Daskin, the Clyde W. Johnson Collegiate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering.

Professor Daskin received his BS from MIT, certificate of post-graduate study in engineering from Cambridge University, and his Ph.D. from MIT. His research focuses on the application of operations research techniques to problems in transportation, supply chain management and facility location modeling, and healthcare.

Daskin is helping the Tauber Institute for Global Operations provide students with new and relevant knowledge in engineering management, operations research, production and manufacturing systems, statistical decision-making, logistics, financial engineering, energy and sustainability, health care operations, and more. He has served as the editor-in-chief of both Transportation Science and IIE Transactions, was the president of INFORMS in 2006 and vice-president for publication from 1996-1999. He also served as the chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University from 1995-2001. He is a fellow of both INFORMS and the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Daskin earned the Fred C. Crane Award for Distinguished Service from the Institute of Industrial Engineers as well as the Institute's Technical Innovation Award. He kindly shared his thoughts on the evolution of Industrial and Operations Engineering with Tauber students and alumni.

Q: Your students are asked to solve real world problems. What are the emerging problems they'll face in their careers?

A: I think that IOEs will continue to be employed in traditional IOE fields such as manufacturing and transportation systems as well as consulting.  In addition, a growing number will be addressing new emerging critical issues in healthcare, energy, national security, and education.  There are critical problems in each of these areas and IOEs will have an important role to play in the resolution of these problems.

Q: How can/are IOE professionals making an impact on the healthcare industry?

A: The US spends over 2 trillion dollars on healthcare.  Just about every physician I know will tell you that at least 25 percent of that is wasted money.  Finding more efficient and effective ways of providing quality healthcare is an important challenge.  At the same time, there are large inequities across the country in the availability of healthcare.  U-M grads will be able to contribute significantly to enhanced efficiency and effectiveness in healthcare.  In addition, medical decision making can be improved and enhanced through the use of systems techniques in which IOE professionals are well trained. 

Q: What will the workforce look like in the next 20 years? What will your U-M grads be doing in five years?

A: I believe that Yogi Berra once said that prediction is difficult, particularly when it concerns the future.  I agree with that.  It is very hard to say what the workforce will look like in 20 years.  That said, I think that the trends we are seeing today will continue.  I think that increased efficiency in manufacturing will result in fewer -- or maybe the same number of -- positions in that area.  Healthcare will continue to be important as we face an aging population.  The US education system has deteriorated significantly compared to that of many other countries.  We will need to find ways of gaining efficiency in schools at all levels (elementary, middle, high school and college).  

Q: How important is interdisciplinary study for today's students? How does Tauber fit in with the equation? 

A: Interdisciplinary study is crucial today.  No single discipline operates on its own in a vacuum apart from other disciplines.  The Tauber Institute for Global Operations enables engineering and business students to interact with each other and to learn interdisciplinary skills.  The Tauber Institute allows students to work in a truly interdisciplinary environment.

Q: What are employers looking for in potential hires?

A:  A necessary condition these days is technical competence in your own field.  That is only the first part.  Employers also want students who can work well with others in a team and who can be creative in the solutions they propose to the problems they confront.

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Mark S. Daskin, U-M Tauber Institute Executive Committee Member
Mark Daskin with students from the 2013 Pacific Gas and Electric Team project in California