New industrial engineering chair has top-10 ranking in his sights
CLEMSON — A professor who has received one of industrial engineering’s top professional honors is taking the helm of a fast-growing Clemson University department and wants to make it among the best in the nation.
Jeffrey P. Kharoufeh was introduced Friday as the new chair of the department of industrial engineering. He expects to start in mid-July and will come to Clemson from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is a professor and co-director of the Stochastic Modeling, Analysis and Control Laboratory.
Kharoufeh said that his goal is to make the industrial engineering department among the nation’s top 10 without sacrificing the personal touch enjoyed by its faculty, staff and students.
“They can expect me to be very personable, they can expect me to be involved and they can expect me to lead,” he said.
Kharoufeh said growth in the department and university is what initially attracted him to Clemson. He also liked the strategic plans set forth by the university and the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.
“After the interview, I realized that not only was the university moving in the right direction but the people in the department in particular were just amazing,” Kharoufeh said. “They are really committed to what they are doing and extremely warm and welcoming. And that just sealed the deal for me.”
Kharoufeh is set to lead a department where enrollment has grown nearly 29 percent in five years, climbing from 546 to 703 students.
“The enrollment numbers are such that we need more people, we need more outstanding faculty members,” Kharoufeh said. “That’s really priority one.”
Kharoufeh said he also wants to increase the size and quality of the Ph.D. program and help increase the number of federal research grants won by faculty members.
Kharoufeh has received several honors and awards in his career. The one that stands out most to him was being elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), industrial engineering’s largest professional society.
He has also won two major teaching awards while on the faculty at the Air Force Institute of Technology, where he served as assistant and associate professor. Those awards are the Dr. Leslie M. Norton Teaching Excellence Award and the Operations Research Instructor of the Quarter Award.
Among those welcoming Kharoufeh to Clemson was Robert Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“Dr. Kharoufeh brings excellent credentials to his new job,” Jones said. “More importantly, he brings a compelling vision for the future of industrial engineering at Clemson University. I welcome him to the Clemson family and look forward to working with him.”
Kharoufeh’s research focus is degradation-based reliability modeling — a branch of reliability theory in which researchers try to predict the remaining useful life of systems that are exposed to changing environments. A good example, Kharoufeh said, is a wind turbine that degrades due to its exposure to the environment.
Kharoufeh said he and his group have developed mathematical and statistical techniques that help forecast failures and prescribe the optimal time to maintain systems. His team has also developed mathematical techniques to help consumers optimally manage stored energy in microgrids, an area in which he has an active grant from the National Science Foundation.
Kharoufeh received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Ohio University and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Pennsylvania State University.
Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences at Clemson, thanked those who helped search for the new department chair.
They include a committee of industrial engineering faculty and staff led by associate professor Laura Stanley. He also thanked Cole Smith for his continued services to the department and for his service as industrial engineering chair prior to becoming associate provost for academic initiatives. And Gramopadhye thanked Scott Mason, the Fluor Endowed Chair of Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics who is serving as interim chair until Kharoufeh’s arrival.
“Dr. Kharoufeh’s colleagues hold him in high esteem and he is highly deserving of his new title and responsibilities,” Gramopadhye said. “We are leaving the department of industrial engineering in good hands and expect that Dr. Kharoufeh will position the department for strength into the future.”
Kharoufeh plans to move to Clemson with his wife, Brigid, and their two children, Anna, 11, and Ethan, 9. In his spare time, Kharoufeh enjoys reading, woodworking and playing classical guitar.