The Michigan Engineer News Center

Q&A with Brian Denton

The incoming industrial and operations engineering chair talks about his vision for the future.| Medium Read
IMAGE:  Brian Denton

What are you looking forward to as the incoming chair of the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE)?
I am looking forward to the opportunity to shape the direction of the department and develop the department in some new areas–hiring faculty, enhancing the recruiting that we do for our graduate program and building opportunities for our undergraduate students to engage in research.

What do you see for the future of the field of industrial and operations engineering?There is an enormous amount of new opportunity to use data-driven methods for the kind of things that we do–whether it is developing models to better understand manufacturing systems, or in energy, medicine or transportation–and studying how to use those models to transform data into useful information for people. Human-computer interaction, for example, is driving new applications all the time. I’m very excited about that; I think it’s going to be an incredible opportunity for our profession.

I think we have a major role to play in terms of how we think about using data and decision-analytics to make better decisions. That is something we can build on for the future and it is going to be really exciting. The University of Michigan is the perfect place for that because we have data science and computational discovery initiatives that bring together colleagues across the university to work with.

What’s your vision for the future of the department?
We will continue to build on our strong program in a way that balances methodology with applications. Data-driven decision making is one of the areas that is critically important for the future. A lot of opportunity for societal impact is being driven by the availability of new sources of data. I’m looking forward to developing our expertise in areas at the interface of our profession with statistics, computer science, and human behavior, for example. We will continue to grow the department and strengthen the already strong connections we have across the university and through our national and global collaborations.

What about your current research is particularly interesting?
Most of what I do is in the area of applied optimization with applications to medicine. I study how to use new biomarkers, imaging, and other kinds of technology for early detection and treatment of chronic diseases. Most of my focus is on cancer and cardiovascular disease because those are by far the number one killers of people in the United States and most developed countries. There is so much going on and so much new technology being developed. There are endless opportunities for people that work in this area to improve design and processes and to look at new ways to adapt and incorporate some of these new technologies into the healthcare process. These problems are also driving development of new methods, which is exciting. My research group has a lot of interaction with the medical school; I look forward to continuing that and enhancing some of the opportunities in our department as well.

Read about Brian Denton’s appointment as the next IOE Chair. 

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  • Brian Denton

    Brian Denton

    Professor, Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering

The outside of the Ford Robotics building

U-Michigan, Ford open world-class robotics complex

The facility will accelerate the future of advanced and more equitable robotics and mobility | Medium Read