CEET professor wins 2020 IISE OpEx Teaching Award

Congratulations to Purushothaman (Purush) Damodaran, Ph.D., professor and chair of the industrial and systems engineering department of the CEET who won the 2020 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers  (IISE) Operational Excellence (OpEx) Division Teaching Award.

This award recognizes the “contribution of individuals to advancing the knowledge and practice of operational excellence (process improvement) concepts. The division’s teaching award is given out annually to honor the services of a person/group of people who have developed curriculum and disseminated courses in the subject area.”

“I am so pleased that Dr. Damodaran has received this well-deserved award,” said Dean Donald Peterson, Ph.D. of NIU’s CEET. “He is an excellent educator who is very passionate about his field and shows great dedication to his students.”

The industrial and systems engineering department offers bachelor’s degrees in industrial and systems engineering and master’s degrees in engineering management and industrial engineering. In 2019, the college began offering doctoral degrees in industrial and systems engineering. Engineers in this area have career prospects in almost every industry. With the goal to improve productivity, save money and effectively use resources, these engineers work in manufacturing, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, and shipping services.

Undergraduate students can choose from one of three emphases including health systems engineering, manufacturing systems, or engineering management.

“Our undergraduate (through senior design) and graduate students (through Engineer in Residence program) are engaged closely with industry to improve productivity, quality, cost, and customer satisfaction by applying tools such as Lean and Six Sigma,” said Damodaran.

“Engaging students in industry-funded projects gives the necessary experiential learning opportunity for our students to remain successful and helps the industry sponsors to explore scientific solutions to complex and challenging problems. Furthermore, we have trained hundreds of practitioners on Lean and Six Sigma to achieve operational excellence in their own organizations. I am very fortunate to contribute to the teaching and mentoring our students and practitioners to successfully implement these tools in an effort to achieve operational excellence. This recognition from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers is very rewarding and will be cherished.”

“Dr. Damodaran is an excellent choice for this national recognition in the field of Operational Excellence because he views teaching as more than just delivering instruction, developing curriculum, supervising students, and engaging students in industry projects,” said Murali Krishnamurthi, professor emeritus in the department of industrial and systems engineering at NIU’s CEET.  “He values the whole student and goes above and beyond the call of duty to help students not only in their course work but also in student life.”

Professor Damodaran joined the NIU faculty in 2009. He has a master’s degree in industrial engineering from NIU and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University.

“Dr. Damodaran is an incredible researcher, instructor, and advisor,” said Christine Nguyen, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering for NIU. “He has years of experience working with students on company-sponsored projects and delivering successful and implementable solutions. He spends hours with his students working on their thesis and project. Whenever he is teaching a course, you can find him with the students in the computer labs providing extra hours to help students understand. Dr. Damodaran goes the extra mile to help students in their education and beyond. He has a gift for working with absolutely any student. And that is due to his incredible patience and giving nature.”

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