(June 29, 2018) The ISE Department announced the following seven people as the 2018 inductees into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni. Those seven inductees, along with Mr. Thomas Askew who was inducted last year but could not attend the ceremony, were honored at the ISE Academy of Distinguished Alumni banquet in April 2018.

Please click their names for their short biographies.

2018 Academy of Distinguished Alumni inductees

Dr. Pius J. Egbelu (M.S. 1979, Ph.D. 1982)

Dr. Olivier A. Girod (Ph.D. 1996)

Col. Daniel W. Gower, Jr. (Ph.D. 1992)

Mr. C. Garland Hagen (B.S. 1967)

Dr. Suvrajeet Sen (Ph.D. 1982)

Dr. Marilyn Smith (M.S. 1982, Ph.D. 1984)

Dr. Rymond W. Staats (Ph.D. 2003)

Mr. Thomas Askew

Mr. Thomas Askew
Mr. Thomas Askew

Tom Askew graduated in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1971, and in 1977 he received his MBA from VCU.  While at Tech, Tom did a co-op program working for Reynolds Metals in Richmond.  From this experience he was able to experience all facets of manufacturing and developed a keen sense of the importance of efficient and well managed operations.

In 1972, Tom was hired by Philip Morris (now known as Altria) and spent the next twenty-five years with them in a wide range of production management, financial analysis and industrial engineering roles. He held positions as Plant Manufacturing Manager, Head of Industrial Engineering, and Assistant Controller in charge of operations analysis.  While on extended assignments overseas, he held director level positions in International Operations in Switzerland and England. During his 7 year tenure in England as General Manager of an equipment manufacturing subsidiary, he increased revenues more than 100% by expanding manufacturing capabilities in over 20 countries. 

After taking an early retirement package from Philip Morris/Altria in 1998.  Tom joined Renaissance Resources (a management consulting and executive search firm) and in 2006 became its President.  In 2010 Renaissance Resources was acquired by Partnership Staffing, Screening and Search.  For the last 18 years Tom has utilized his expertise to assist clients in recruiting high level executives mostly in the fields of engineering and manufacturing. 

He is a past President of the Richmond Chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and continues to be active having been Treasurer for 8 years and is now the Membership Director.   He is also on the Central Virginia Advisory Board for the Virginia Tech Industrial Systems Engineering group.  

Tom is married with three children and four grandchildren.

Dr. Pius Egbelu

Dr. Pius Egbelu
Dr. Pius Egbelu

Dr. Pius Egbelu is a Distinguished Professor at The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). He previously served as the Dean of the School of Management and Distinguished Professor and holder of Then and Clark Chair at NJIT. He also served as the Dean of National Science Foundation (NSF) Academy, and the Dean of Engineering and Bert Turner Distinguished Professor at Louisiana State University. He has held the positions of Professor and Chair of Industrial Engineering at Iowa State University, Assistant and Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering at Penn State University, and Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Syracuse University.

In addition to his time across multiple universities, Dr. Egbelu also was an NSF Program Director for three different research programs within the Directorate for Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineers, and a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science. He has served on the advisory boards of many organizations, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, multiple Directorates at NSF, and the Louisiana Foundation for Excellence in Science, Technology, and Education. He is a registered professional engineer in Louisiana.

Dr. Egbelu earned a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Louisiana Tech in 1978, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Virginia Tech in 1979 and 1982, respectively. The chair of Pius’ dissertation committee was Jose Tanchoco, and the other members of his committee were Marvin Agee, Robert Davis, Rick Wysk, and Jim Moore. 

He has made many significant contributions to engineering and management education and research and has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals. 

Pius and his wife Caroline have two sons.  Caroline and one of their sons, Chisanim, were able to attend the Distinguished Alumni banquet in May to see Pius inducted into the Academy.

Dr. Olivier Girod

Dr. Olivier Girod
Dr. Olivier Girod

Dr. Olivier Girod received his PhD in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech in 1996.  He earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the ENSAM School at the Paris Institute of Technology and his M.S. is in industrial engineering from Texas Tech University. He completed executive training at Georgetown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia and is a senior member of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers and of the American Society for Quality. He is also a member of Alpha Pi Mu, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the Texas Tech Academy of Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineers.

Currently, Dr. Girod is a senior officer at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, DC. The mission of the SEC is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. As the Deputy Director, Office of Support Operations, he focuses on real property infrastructure, the security of personnel and assets, the preservation of official records in accordance with National Archives regulations, and transparency through the Freedom of Information Act.

Prior to joining the SEC in 2014, Olivier spent a decade as a manufacturing executive with the U.S. Government Publishing Office, including six years leading the agency’s largest business unit. As such, he participated in startup operations for the production of biometric passports and led multi-million dollar investments to increase operational efficiency. From 1994 to 2004, Olivier held various technology and operations positions at The Washington Post, where he incorporated engineering tools and techniques to improve the performance of manufacturing processes and implement innovative business strategies. Previously, he worked in the nuclear and aerospace industries.

Kostas Triantis was the chair of his dissertation committee, which also included Pat Koelling. 

Kostas said this about Olivier: “His trajectory comes as no surprise to me…As his former mentor and advisor, and as his friend I am very proud of his accomplishments and of the honor bestowed to him by our department.”

Olivier and his wife of 25 years, Brenda, have four children.

Col. Dan Gower

Col. Dan Gower
Col. Dan Gower

Colonel Dan Gower grew up in Tyler, TX, where he was a Boy Scout and Explorer Scout and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He attended Texas A&M University and was a member of the Aggie Band. Dan received his commission in the Infantry in 1970 as a Distinguished Military Graduate. During his 27-year career in the U.S. Army, Dan was in command of Army Units for a total of 96 months while serving in operational flight duty positions for 147 months. His most memorable and noteworthy assignments were flying medical evacuation missions.

Col. Gower earned two Masters of Science degrees, one in aviation safety and one in safety management from Central Missouri State University, where he earned the Goetz Award as The Outstanding Graduate Student in the College of Applied Science and Technology.

During his time at the Army Aeromedical Research Lab, Dan conducted the Army’s first scientific studies in the phenomenon of simulator sickness.  He was selected to pursue doctoral studies in industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech and earned his doctorate in 1992, where he worked on auditory systems with Dr. John Casali.  Dan’s methodology set new standards for intelligibility testing that has been used in many studies since.

Dan’s last military assignment was as President of the U.S. Army Medical Department Test Board. He became a subject matter expert and leading proponent in the independent evaluation of telemedicine technologies and programs. 

Following retirement, Dan pursued his passion of giving back to the local community in which he lives. He joined the local Volunteer Fire Department and obtained training as a medical first responder.  He was awarded the prestigious Phoenix Award (along with a group of other volunteers) for saving the life of a local resident in 2016.  Dan serves on the local city council and is active in his local church, teaching the men’s Sunday School class.  He also serves as the church treasurer and clerk.

Col. Gower’s passion for serving those who served our nation led him to work with an organization that serves Wounded Warriors.  Under his leadership, warriors are hosted for two-day fishing outings provided by the local community.

Mr. Garland Hagen

Mr. Garland Hagen
Mr. Garland Hagen

Garland Hagen graduated from Virginia Tech in 1967 with a BS in Industrial Engineering, with emphasis in computer systems and operations research.  During his time in Blacksburg, he was a member of the Circle K Club, the VPI Collegiates Swing Band, served as a Resident Advisor, and was a member of the Ring Committee.  As a junior, he was one of only two students inducted into Alpha Pi Mu honor society.  He was also selected to become a member of Sigma Mu Sigma, the honorary leadership fraternity, for his activities and contributions on campus. 

Upon graduating in 1967, Garland accepted a job as an internal consultant with First National Bank of Atlanta, after having been recruited on campus.  He was charged with helping to automate manual systems, including computer equipment planning and acquisition.  The bank gave him the opportunity to pursue his MBA in Finance at Georgia State University, after which he developed software for bank and corporate customer planning and forecasting, including investment analysis and decision making.  He obtained a position with United Virginia Bankshares in 1972 in Richmond, VA. United Virginia changed its name to Crestar in 1987 and was then sold in 1998 to SunTrust Bank.

Garland obtained another graduate degree from the Stonier School of Banking at Rutgers University, which enabled him to accept other assignments such as Director of Corporate Planning and Corporate Treasurer.  Garland retired from SunTrust in 1999 as a Corporate Executive Vice President.

He and his wife, Jean, now live seasonally in Florida and Virginia, enjoying travel and boating activities, as well as many family events.  They have two children and four grandchildren.  Garland and Jean have established a legacy scholarship for Industrial Engineering.

Dr. Suvrajeet Sen

Dr. Suvrajeet Sen
Dr. Suvrajeet Sen

Dr. Suvrajeet Sen is Professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California.  He graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research (IEOR) in 1982.  This year marks his 36th year as a faculty member.   Following his graduation from Virginia Tech, Suvrajeet joined the University of Arizona as an assistant professor and became a full professor there in 1994.  After another dozen years at Arizona, he moved to Ohio State in 2006, and then to USC in 2012.  Over the years, he has received research support in excess of $10 million for research on optimization models, applications, theory, and algorithms.   Most notably, he has received continuous NSF funding over the past 25 years.  

Suvrajeet’s research has appeared in all of the top academic journals in his field and his leadership has been acknowledged in many ways, including:

  • Being elected a Fellow of INFORMS in 2005;
  • Being invited to give keynote lectures at numerous international workshops and giving plenary lectures at International Conferences on Stochastic Programming;
  • Receiving the INFORMS Computing Society Award for “Seminal work in Stochastic Integer Programming” along with a colleague in 2016;
  • Serving many times as a tutorial speaker at the INFORMS Conference and giving a plenary lecture on “Big Data and Big Decisions” at the 2016 Conference. 

Over the years, Suvrajeet has served the ISE community through leadership roles including serving as Program Director for OR & Service Enterprise Systems at NSF and chairing an NSF-appointed group to identify new research directions motivated by NAE Grand Challenges.  He facilitated the founding of the Optimization Society within INFORMS and was its 2015-16 Chair.  In addition to serving on multiple editorial boards for journals, he also led the establishment of the INFORMS Journal on Optimization.  His contributions have been recognized with the INFORMS Distinguished Service Award in 2017.

Dr. Marilyn Smith

Dr. Marilyn Smith
Dr. Marilyn Smith

After receiving her B.S. in mathematics from East Tennessee State University, Dr. Marilyn Smith worked in statistical quality control for Holston Defense Corporation, as an inventory control supervisor for Burroughs Corporation. In 1982, she received her M.S. in industrial engineering at Virginia Tech, followed by her Ph.D. in 1984. She taught at Virginia Tech for five years, from 1984 to 89, and received the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award in 1987.

In 1989, she joined Winthrop University as an associate professor, teaching operations management, and was promoted to professor in 1996. She served for three years as a senior examiner for the South Carolina Governor's Quality Award, and served as a judge for the award from 1998 to 2002. In addition, she served six years as an examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. 

In addition to teaching and active research, her contributions to the community, state and profession were recognized in 1995 with a Winthrop University Community Service Award. In 2000, she returned to the business sector on a sabbatical, working for Solectron Technology in the areas of quality and process improvement. From 2002 through 2005, she served as Chair of the Winthrop University Faculty and Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees. She served as a Winthrop University Marshall for five years. In 2013, Dr. Smith was named Winthrop University's Distinguished Professor, and was invited to give the December 2013 Commencement Address.  Marilyn retired from Winthrop at the end of the spring 2018 semester.

While teaching at Virginia Tech, Marilyn and her husband adopted a five-week-old baby girl and named her Jessica. Currently, Jessica is a drama major at UNC-Greensboro with a concentration in design and technical production with a focus on costume design. Most recently, she studied abroad at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.

Dr. Raymond Staats

Dr. Raymond Staats
Dr. Raymond Staats

Dr. Raymond W. Staats, President of Craven Community College in New Bern, NC, was inducted into the Grado Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni at his alma mater, Virginia Tech.  The induction took place at the annual Alumni and Awards Banquet for the ISE department, which was held at The Inn at Virginia Tech on April 23, 2018.  He was recognized along with seven other alums for significant contributions to the industrial engineering profession.

Dr. Staats began his professional career as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force.  Initially he served as a Space & Missile Operations officer, with positions in satellite command and control, space launch, and missile test and evaluation.  His military career transitioned to positions in higher education upon obtaining his doctorate from the ISE Department in 2003.  His dissertation earned the 2003 Federal Aviation Administration Air Transportation Centers of Excellence Student of the Year Award and 2nd place in the 2004 Institute for Industrial and Systems Engineers Pritsker Doctoral Dissertation Competition.

Following graduation, Dr. Staats served as a graduate faculty member at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, OH.  He joined the Community College of the Air Force in Montgomery, Alabama in 2006, first as Executive Vice President and later as President.  He concluded his military career in 2009, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel with more than 20 years of Air Force active duty service.  He joined Craven Community College as its fifth president on July 20, 2015, following a national search.

Dr. Staats is also an active community leader.  He currently serves on the non-profit boards of the New Bern and Havelock Chambers of Commerce, Swiss Bear Corporation, Craven 100 Alliance, Craven Community College Foundation and the Public Radio East Foundation.