Industrial engineering

Girls meet ‘the science of better’

2/9/2012 - Industrial engineering professor Rhonda Righter (M.S.’82, Ph.D.’86 IEOR) is tackling a new assignment: serving as a volunteer role model to 35 middle-school girls. Visiting an after-school science enrichment program called Techbridge, Righter described her field and how she chose it to a group of students at Oakland’s American Indian Public Charter School. Her presentation was intended to introduce the girls to engineering with the hope that they will one day be inspired to pursue studies and careers in it or a related field. “Industrial engineering is all about making things better,” Righter explained. “We’re like detectives who solve puzzles.”

Professional master’s opens for enrollment

12/14/2010 - A man of compact build and modest manners, Coleman Fung (B.S.’87 IEOR) is living proof that behind that unassuming demeanor could be lurking an engineering dynamo. Appearing in Sibley Auditorium on Nov. 19, Fung tossed aside his prepared remarks to engage the audience in a light-hearted exploration of the personality traits of an engineer. His talk, entitled “Preparing Engineers for Leadership,” was one of several events celebrating the launch of Berkeley Engineering’s new professional master’s, a one-year intensive program that combines in-depth technical studies with a core leadership curriculum in business skills like management and finance.

Experience keeps UC Berkeley's Robert Bea in the hot spotlight

9/27/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Shuttered in his home office, Robert Bea is plugging away at a report that will, once again, make him a target. The UC Berkeley engineering professor is investigating, with a group he assembled, the April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The blast killed 11 workers and created the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The report, due in December, likely will place blame on oil giant BP, which leased the platform, and the facility's operator, Transocean. And it is likely to bring a volley of public-relations cannonballs to Bea's front door, as did his criticism of Army Corps of Engineers following the failure of the levees in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. But despite the stress, health problems and angst, Bea is not apologizing.

PG&E exceeded its own maximum pressure standard on San Bruno pipeline

9/17/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Federal investigators have determined that the natural gas in the pipeline that exploded in San Bruno was running at a higher pressure than the maximum limit PG&E has told the public it maintained. "Between 375 and 400 psi still sounds safe, but it's all premised on a defect-free line," said Bob Bea, a professor of engineering at UC Berkeley with extensive pipeline experience. "Here's where the demands on the pipeline from internal pressure have to be matched with a set of capacity questions. Was the steel brittle? Did we have a combination of corrosion and fatigue?"

The inconvenient truth about traffic math: Progress is slow

8/28/2010 The Wall Street Journal - This month's 60-mile traffic jam in China has demonstrated a frustrating truth about traffic: It is far easier to measure than mitigate. Mathematicians, engineers and planners are making steady advances in assessing traffic congestion and explaining it, but traffic math's strides in reducing congestion are modest, simply because the number of cars often exceeds roadway capacity. If population and the economy keep growing, "there is absolutely no way congestion can stop increasing," says Alex Bayen, an associate professor of systems engineering at UC Berkeley.

Engineering health reform

4/7/2010 - The health care reform bill enacted last month is the most far-reaching domestic policy the nation has seen in decades. Only time will tell us all the ramifications of this historic legislation. As the acting dean of the College of Engineering I ask, how can engineers help patients, physicians and providers make the best use of the changes ahead?

Toyota's fractured structure may be at root of safety problems

2/23/2010 Los Angeles Times - The fact that Toyota's quality and safety problems have affected almost every model in its line suggests that the automaker has a systemic management problem, said Robert Bea, a UC Berkeley professor who has accumulated about 800 case studies of corporate and government-agency meltdowns. Bea said the cultural and organizational problems affecting Toyota are similar to those that allowed NASA and the Army Corps of Engineers to ignore structural issues leading to the Columbia space shuttle and Hurricane Katrina disasters.

Professor Alper Atamturk named DoD National Security Fellow

1/25/2010 Department of Defense - Alper Atamturk, professor of industrial engineering and operations research at UC Berkeley, was named by the the U.S. Department of Defense as one of 11 distinguished university faculty scientists and engineers forming the 2010 class of its National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship program. NSSEFF provides grants to top-tier researchers from U.S. universities to conduct unclassified, basic research that may transform DoD's capabilities in the long term.

Engineering the Magic

12/15/2009 - At the most magical place on earth, industrial engineer Brian Loo (B.S.'09 IEOR) has worked in restaurants, analyzing food and beverage service, and in entertainment, doing workforce planning and forecasting. He has even worked on the railroad, optimizing process design and crowd flow. Last August, Loo joined the Workforce Planning team at Disneyland. Following a childhood of family vacations to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and internships there and at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Loo is now a bona fide "Cast Member," the term used for all Disney employees, each an integral part of the show.

Engineering Better Disaster Relief

5/2/2009 - Scheduling problems, which involve searching for an optimal or near-optimal schedule for a set of tasks, are notoriously complex because simple searches are overwhelmed by their explosively vast number of possibilities. But with large-scale manufacturing and distribution operations, fractional improvements in scheduling can have large-scale impacts on the bottom line, which is why industrial engineers are routinely called upon to create customized sophisticated strategies for specific scheduling problems. Now, Professor Rhonda Righter has applied industrial engineering–style analysis to a different type of scheduling problem: after a mass casualty event, such as a natural disaster, a wreck or an attack, how should a medical emergency response team allocate its attention to patients, in order to save the most lives?