Pitt | Swanson Engineering


Industrial engineering (IE) is about choices - it is the engineering discipline that offers the most wide-ranging array of opportunities in terms of employment, and it is distinguished by its flexibility. While other engineering disciplines tend to apply skills to very specific areas, Industrial Engineers may be found working everywhere: from traditional manufacturing companies to airlines, from distribution companies to financial institutions, from major medical establishments to consulting companies, from high-tech corporations to companies in the food industry. The BS in industrial engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (http://www.abet.org). To learn more about Industrial Engineering’s Undergraduate Program ABET Accreditation, click here. Our department is the proud home of Pitt's Center for Industry Studies, which supports multidisciplinary research that links scholars to some of the most important and challenging problems faced by modern industry.

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Printing a Better Microgrid

Research, Industrial, Banner

The future of electronic displays will be thin, flexible and durable. One barrier to this, however, is that one of the most widely used transparent conductors for electronic displays—indium tin oxide (ITO)—doesn’t perform as well on larger areas and can crack and break down with wear. Indium is also a rare earth mineral, which is relatively scarce, and the process to create ITO requires high energy consumption and expensive equipment.One emerging alternative is metal “microgrid” conductors. These microgrids can be customized to their application by varying the microgrid width, pitch and thickness, and they can be made with a variety of metals.New research from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering investigates the use of microgrids printed with particle-free silver inks, demonstrating its advantages when compared with other particle-based inks. The paper is published in ACS Applied Electronic Materials and is featured on a supplemental cover of the journal.“Among the alternatives to ITO being explored, metal microgrids are an attractive option because of their low sheet resistance and high transparency, which is well suited to many optoelectronic applications,” explained Paul Leu, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, whose Laboratory for Advanced Materials at Pittsburgh (LAMP) conducted the research. “However, because of the fabrication processes available, it’s difficult to perfect. Our research focuses on addressing key issues in fabricating silver microgrids using particle-free silver ink, and we found it has some key advantages over particle-based inks.”The project is a continuation of the LAMP lab’s collaboration with Electroninks, a technology company in Austin, Texas. The company produces a circuit drawing kit called Circuit Scribe, which uses conductive silver ink to allow users to create working lights with circuits drawn on paper. Circuit Scribe sparked Leu’s initial interest in working with the company to develop their particle-free metal ink as a way to address some of the limitations of ITO.The researchers found that the particle-free fabricated microgrids were more reliable than those printed with particle-based inks, showing better transparent electrode performance, lower roughness, and better mechanical durability, which is necessary for flexible displays. To test its durability, the researchers performed several tests, including adhesion, bending and folding tests.“These microgrids outperformed both particle-based ink-formed microgrids and ITO microgrids in all of our tests,” said lead author and PhD student, Ziyu Zhou. “Our research paves the way for better performing, less expensive and more durable displays that don’t rely on the mining of rare earth minerals.”In addition to evaluating the microgrids as a replacement for ITO in OLEDs, the team is evaluating them for transparent antennas and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding.The research paper, “Polymer-Embedded Silver Microgrids by Particle-Free Reactive Inks for Flexible High Performance Transparent Conducting Electrodes,” (DOI: 10.1021/acsaelm.1c00107) was coauthored by Ziyu Zhou, S Brett Walker, Melbs LeMieux and Paul W Leu.The supplemental cover, designed by Randal McKenzie, is featured in the May 25th issue of the journal.

Engineering Smarter Stents

Grants, Industrial

An estimated two million people will need a coronary artery stent every year. A small mesh tube inserted into a narrow or blocked coronary artery, a stent can help ensure blood can continue to flow through the artery unimpeded. Today, many also contain a coating that releases a steady dose of medication to improve healing and keep the blockage from coming back.Stents, however, are not without their risks: Restenosis—the re-narrowing of an artery—is one risk of coronary artery stents and occurs in three to 10 percent of cases in the first six to nine months. There is also a risk of blood clot formation, or thrombosis, that can also occur as the stent’s medicinal coating dissolves, exposing a metal surface.Youngjae Chun, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is part of a consortium from industry, academia and research that will seek to revolutionize the design of heart stents. The new stents will feature ultra-low profile struts and a uniquely textured “smart” surface that will help improve healing and lessen the risks of restenosis and thrombosis.The consortium, which includes members from industry, academia and research, recently received $2 million in funding from the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy’s Outstanding Company Research Center Promotion Project (ATC+).“The uniqueness of our stent is in both the thin struts that may reduce the risk of restenosis and the smart surface, which can help improve healing and prevent clots,” said Chun, who is a co-principal investigator. “When you introduce specialized micro and nanopatterns on the material—like grouped patterns, dimples, cavities or diamond patterns—you can improve biocompatibility.”Most widely-used drug-eluting stents (DES) have a polymer coating mixed with a drug that is released over several months to help prevent restenosis. After that period, however, the metal stent is exposed. The unique, patterned surface on the proposed DES design would encourage endothelial cells—cells that form a barrier between vessels and tissue to control the flow of fluids in the body—to grow on the surface of the stent, helping to speed healing and reduce the risk of blood clot formation.Chun’s lab will provide the computational modeling of the stent, as well as the creation of the smart surface. They will work with lead investigator and DES manufacturing company Osstem Cardiotech, as well as Daegu Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation, located in South Korea.The project, “Development of a Coronary Artery Drug Eluting Stent That Contains Smart 60um Ultra-Thin Struts and Surface Structures for Rapid Vascular Healing Process,” began in April 2021 and will last four years.

Message of Vaccine Acceptance Can Boost Immunization Rates

Industrial, Research, Banner

The development of a COVID-19 vaccine signaled, for many, the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel. But for the vaccine to be effective in ending the pandemic, a large majority of the population – some estimates put it at more than 75% – have to be willing to get it.And that might prove to be the tricky part.While hesitancy to get a vaccination makes headlines, new research finds that emphasizing the widespread and growing acceptance of the vaccine is an effective way to encourage more people to get immunized.“Our research has shown that giving people accurate descriptions of norms in their communities, like how many people are accepting the vaccine, makes them more willing to get it themselves,” said Amin Rahimian, assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and co-author of the study, which is currently under peer review. “This knowledge presents an important opportunity for public health officials to effectively communicate.”The study, led by MIT Sloan School of Management professors Sinan Aral and Dean Eckles, highlights the importance of messaging in reaching the goals of widespread vaccination, herd immunity and the eventual eradication of COVID-19. As part of a larger collaboration with Facebook and using input from public health experts at Johns Hopkins University, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), and the World Health Organization, the researchers fielded a survey with over 1.9 million responses from 67 countries in their local languages.On a sample of more than 400,000 people in 23 countries, the researchers surveyed the participants about their plans for vaccination, inserting information throughout the survey about others’ behavior. When given accurate information about the number of people who said they’d receive the vaccine, the number of people who were unsure or felt negative about accepting the vaccine was reduced by 5 percent.“Everyone has different reference points when it comes to societal norms, but overall, peoples’ preventative health behaviors are dramatically influenced by social and cultural factors,” said Rahimian. “The most important message is to appreciate the value of these norms. It is natural for people to be hesitant, but emphasizing overall acceptance is an important way to contextualize the decision they’re making for themselves and their community.”Because one cannot tell by looking at people whether they’ve been immunized, messaging around acceptance rates is an especially potent tool to encourage more participation. The researchers noted that it wasn’t clear going into the study whether learning that more people were vaccinated would encourage or decrease acceptance of the vaccine. For example, if a majority of others say they will get it, some people may think it’s safe to skip it.“Humans are sensitive to the behaviors of others. Public health communications should avoid overemphasizing the shrinking minority of people who say they won’t accept a vaccine against COVID-19,” said Eckles. “The best way forward, as is often the case, is the presentation of clear, accurate and timely information. That includes the information that other people overwhelmingly intend to accept these vaccines.”The Age of DataRahimian’s work is at the intersection of networks, data, and decision sciences. His work focuses on analysis and decision making in large-scale, sociotechnical systems, like social media, and the opportunities it represents for researchers.“The landscape for scientific research is changing in the age of data. The combined force of high-end data analytics and high performance computing opens new ways for scientific discovery,” said Rahimian.In this project, the researchers partnered with Facebook to gather data. The survey was deployed through the social media platform, and the researchers received anonymized responses attached only to a participant number. The partnership gave them extraordinarily detailed information on the participants’ demographic data along with their responses, without revealing their identity.“It was very important for us to make sure our survey was representative of the population. Facebook is in a unique position to help with this kind of work because of the massive amount of demographic and behavioral data that they can use globally,” Rahimian said. “Ensuring that we are hearing from a lot of different kinds of people allows us to extrapolate better conclusions about the population as a whole.”The paper, “Surfacing Norms to Increase Vaccine Acceptance,” (Preprint DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/srv6t) is undergoing peer review and was co-authored by Alex Moehring, Avinash Collis, Kiran Garimella, M. Amin Rahimian, Sinan Aral and Dean Eckles.

Karen Bursic Wins Grant Award for Best Paper in The Engineering Economist

Honors & Awards, Industrial, Research

Many fundamental engineering subjects, like statics and dynamics, heat and energy, signals and systems, and statistics, have reliable methods for measuring students’ learning. Engineering economy, which uses economic principles to evaluate engineering decisions, has not traditionally been among them, despite its importance to the curriculum.The Engineering Economist recently published an article by Karen Bursic, associate professor of industrial engineering and undergraduate program director at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, that evaluates a concept inventory to determine students’ learning in engineering economy courses. The article, “An Engineering Economy Concept Inventory,” (doi: 10.1080/0013791X.2020.1777360), was recently awarded the Grant Award, an award given annually by the Engineering Economy Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).“With all the changes in engineering education, like flipped classrooms or problem-based learning, it’s especially important to have an unbiased, targeted assessment tool to make sure students are learning important core concepts,” said Bursic. “The Engineering Economy Concept Inventory I have developed can help instructors understand whether the pedagogical changes they make to their course have been effective.”Bursic teaches the Engineering Economics Analysis course at Pitt, a course that introduces engineering undergrads to concepts like cost estimation, interest rate calculations, depreciation, and economic equivalence concepts.“These skills are critical for the effective application of engineering skills in the real world,” said Bursic. “While decision makers are often confident in the technical solutions that engineers provide, they almost always will ask whether benefits outweigh costs or which of several alternatives is least costly.”The Grant Award, named for Eugene L. Grant, is awarded for the best paper published in The Engineering Economist. Grant was a professor of economics of engineering at Stanford University whose primary objective, both in the several textbooks he penned and his classroom lectures, was to help students develop practical skills for solving real world problems.Papers considered for the Grant Award are evaluated on originality, importance of the problem they address, logic and clarity, and adequacy of the proposed solution. The Award includes a cash prize of $1000.Bursic will receive the Award at the ASEE conference in Long Beach, Calif. on July 28, 2021.

Pitt and the Global Manufacturing And Industrialization Summit Join Efforts To Advance Research And Development Efforts In Manufacturing


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (March 29, 2021) ... The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance research collaboration and knowledge sharing in technology, manufacturing, and education across borders. The partnership will see GMIS and Pitt, in particular its Swanson School of Engineering, collaborate to explore opportunities to encourage research and development in manufacturing, develop academic papers, and facilitate knowledge exchange between different universities and educational institutes worldwide. The partnership aims to foster cross-sector collaboration through academic research and expertise to address the industry's challenges. Dr. David Vorp, the Swanson School’s John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Research, and Namir Hourani, Managing Director of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) signed the MoU. The partnership is designed to further the two organizations’ shared objectives to drive sustainable innovation that will help reshape the global manufacturing landscape, serving economies, industry, and civil society better. Commenting on the partnership, Namir Hourani, Managing Director of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS), said: “We are pleased to sign the MoU with the University of Pittsburgh as we continue to rollout long-term partnerships with world-class, research-focused universities from all over the world. These partnerships play a very important role within our ecosystem and contribute to multiple activities that run alongside the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit. “The city of Pittsburgh is a major center for technological innovation and advanced manufacturing in the United States and across the world, and this partnership will provide a platform for us to jointly showcase best practices from the city on the world stage.”James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, said: “The University of Pittsburgh is indeed excited to be a global academic partner with GMIS, and reflects Pittsburgh’s commitment to excellence in academics, research, and sustainability. “Pittsburgh represents the intersection of Industry 5.0 and Society 5.0, as indicated when Worth magazine recently named it as the nation’s second-most resilient city. Pittsburgh was the burning heart of the Second Industrial Revolution, and the past three decades of re-invention have shown how our region has once again established itself as the nexus for creating new knowledge that improves the human condition. And as we celebrate the 175th year of engineering education at Pitt in 2021, the Swanson School is proud to help lead the way in research, academics, and cultural competency.”The University of Pittsburgh will join the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) in the development of its Leadership Program which was announced at #GMIS2020 and focuses on shaping future global leaders to prioritize advancing humanity and promoting global prosperity. Together with the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, the GMIS platform will work towards developing future leaders that can set their organizations on the path to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Swanson School will be instrumental in supporting with the research, developing the curriculum, engaging with stakeholders, implementing the programs, and supporting in creating awareness of for the program amongst relevant institutions all over the world.Dr. David Vorp, the Swanson School’s John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Research, added: “The integration of sustainable industrial development in the mission for GMIS sets a well-charted path for our partnership. Pitt has endeavored to be a university leader in sustainable innovation, and at the Swanson School, our faculty and students are exploring new materials, advanced manufacturing, and tools that have the potential to improve the triple bottom line – social, environmental, and economic – for industry around the world. We are excited to join the GMIS ecosystem as a global academic partner and to be able to share the city of Pittsburgh’s success stories and innovations on the world stage of industrial and manufacturing excellence.”# # #About GMIS: The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) was established in 2015 to build bridges between manufacturers, governments and NGOs, technologists, and investors in harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) transformation of manufacturing to enable the regeneration of the global economy. A joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), GMIS is a global platform that presents stakeholders with an opportunity to shape the future of the manufacturing sector and contribute towards global good by advancing some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.The first two editions of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit were held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March 2017, and Yekaterinburg, Russia in July 2019, respectively, with each edition welcoming over 3,000 high-level delegates from over 40 countries. The third edition, GMIS2020, was held virtually in September 2020 and convened over 10,000 attendees and close to 100 thought-provoking leaders from governments, businesses, and civil society. GMIS2021, the fourth edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit, will be held once again in the United Arab Emirates from November 22 to 27, alongside EXPO Dubai, under the theme – Rewiring Societies: Repurposing Digitalization for Prosperity. To learn more about GMIS, please visit https://gmisummit.com/ and follow GMIS on Twitter: @GMISummit, Instagram: @gmisummit, LinkedIn: GMIS - Global Manufacturing & Industrialization Summit, and Facebook: @GMISummit. Press Contact:Reethu ThachilCommunications ManagerM Three Marcomms LLC, Press Office for:Global Manufacturing & Industrialisation Summit Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity +971 58 847 6870/ press@gmisummit.comReethu Thachil, GMIS Communications Manager, 3/29/2021Contact: Paul Kovach

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