Category Archives: Blog

2015 End-of-Year Update

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Art done on my whiteboard by my talented brother-in-law Blake Neubert.

The red ink from grading exams combined with the still-green grass on campus has me in the holiday spirit.  Here’s my blog tradition of an end-of-year update.

The biggest update from 2015 was a change in location.  I made the move to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this summer and it has proved to be a Pareto-optimal life solution.  The Industrial and Systems Engineering department at RPI is a nice place to be a junior faculty.  Already, interactions with my colleagues have led to new insights and directions for my research, and mentoring has led to a potential industry project and an award nomination.  We love our new community in Troy, and my husband found a super-charged job as a data analyst for Vicarious Visions.

In 2015, I have been lucky to lead a talented research team that has helped further research on the development of mathematical representations of complex systems and processes to better understand the implications of their design and operation.  My research has focused on three main stems of discovery: military logistics, distribution systems, and peer-to-peer sharing systems.  In 2015, I received my first NSF funding.  The project focuses on peer-to-peer sharing systems, which are systems where a resource owned by an individual is collectively shared with a group of users. The shared resource can be a physical resource (like a power drill) or a human resource (like the ability to perform a task). By focusing on access over ownership, these Systems allow physical assets to be consumed as services and tasks to be completed by independent individuals. Examples include sharing economy companies like Uber, Flexe, Cargomatic, and Instacart.

I’m thankful that I was able to convince Shahab Mofidi to transfer with me from UCF to RPI.  He is working on his Ph.D. research on two-stage multi-product procurement decisions with cost fluctuations.  He did an excellent job presenting his work at ISERC (to 3 generations of his academic family) and INFORMS.  It’s fun to jointly put our heads together during our weekly research meetings.

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Shahab Mofidi presents to three-generations of his academic tree at the 2015 ISERC conference (Mofidi, Pazour, Meller, [Bozer, not pictured], White)

I started working with Uzma Mushtaque this summer, and she has jumped right into her research on developing and using models that incorporate assortment properties into random utility models.  Specifically, she is interested in how to explicitly model no-choice probabilities associated when individual users are recommended an assortment of options to choose from.  Her work has wide application from recommendations in e-commerce and Netflix, as well as facilitating freelancer options in peer-to-peer resource sharing apps.  Shahab and she gained valuable experience attending the Purdue CIBER PhD Consortium on International Operations Management.  Uzma is excited to have her first research abstract accepted to present at ISERC in 2016.  Finally, I am excited to have Yuan (Eric) Meng join my group.  He will research bi-level optimization models for peer-to-peer sharing systems.

As new members joined, a number of students graduated in 2015.  Patrick Reilly defended his Master’s Thesis this spring on “Propagation of Unit Location Uncertainty in Dense Storage Environments”.  With help from Dr. Kellie Schneider, a journal out of his work has been submitted for review.  Mohamed Awwad defended his Ph.D. dissertation this Fall, which focuses on searching in dense storage environments.  We have received constructive reviews back on a submitted paper and are currently working on revisions.  Finally, Faraz Ramtin (who was the first student to jointly work with me) graduated this Spring with his Ph.D. His work on MIAPP AS/RS is ongoing and has led to interesting discussions with other facility logistics researchers who are modeling other aspects of the technology used for distribution.  He has two accepted publications in IIE Transactions and is preparing a third contribution for publication.

 

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Mohamed Awwad defends his dissertation at UCF, while I attend proudly from NY.

Undergraduate researchers bring a rad perspective to our research.  This semester I had six undergraduates who worked on projects associated with supply chain modeling of ship-from-store fulfillment, sharing economy models for supply chains, and seabased logistics.

On my drive from Florida to New York, I got an awesome tour of Duke’s campus from Catherine Ninah, who was an undergraduate researcher at UCF and conducted research via an REU.  Catherine Ninah and Kristin Elias were involved with ICubed at UCF – their collaborations with art students created some cool art based on our seabased logistics research.

 

In 2015, I finally got to teach a logistics course in the spring, and enjoyed incorporating my research and the material handling and logistics US roadmap into the course.  I just wrapped up a rewarding class on the Design and Analysis of Supply Chains.  One of the introductory assignments was to have students create a “Supply Chain and You” slide to motivate the students to think about the importance and impact of the course topics on the students’ lives, and also allowed me to get to know the students better.   Here’s mine:

Supply Chains and Me

The course ended with a review of the topics helped by students’ memes.  Here is my favorite, which reminds students when calculating the amount of safety stock you need to use the square root of the lead time.

Final Exam Review - Fall 2015

My mission to create more Industrial Engineers has continued in 2015.  I enjoyed participating at CAMP Connect, presenting to the Eureka! Program of Girls Incorporated in the Capital Region, to the RPI student chapter of IIE about “What is Industrial Engineering and Why Does it Rock?” and attending the Women at Rensselaer Mentor Program.

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Attending the Women at Rensselaer Mentor Program.

My 2016 calendar already contains a number of projects that will allow me to learn a lot.  Some I am most excited about include an interdisciplinary academic-industry partnership proposal on smart, secure on-demand authorization systems for logistics and distribution  (with material scientists and computer science researchers from SDSMT), presenting at the Transportation Research-Board workshop on “On-Demand and Sharing Economy for Freight” and leading a panel discussion at the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) on Crowdsourcing and Collaborative Warehousing and Logistics.

Cheers!

Jen

Move to Rensselaer

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I made the move this summer to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and am excited to be part of the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department.

Some initial observations I have had:

  1. I’ve found a nice home in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department, which has research expertise in supply chains, cognitive and social networks, and infrastructure resiliency.  My research in modeling of supply chains and logistics systems is valued, and I am certain I will learn a lot from my colleagues.  It’s also a good sign that a large portion of the faculty’s favorite food is pizza.
  2. I appreciate Rensselaer’s joint emphasis on research and teaching, and connect with the ideas of The New Polytechnic, which “supports promising areas of interdisciplinary research and learning, and which uses the most advanced tools and technologies to unite a diversity of perspectives.”
  3. I just finished the first week of class and have been impressed with the students’ enthusiasm for the subject – Supply Chain Design.   Still left to figure out is how to write on a chalk board without the “squeaky” sound.
  4. Jennifer really is a popular name.  There are two new Jennifer faculty members on campus,  another Jennifer organized our orientation, yet another Jennifer handled my paperwork in HR, and yet another Jennifer helped me submit my first NSF funded proposal.
  5. We are proud to be Troybots.  Luke and I are living in downtown Troy near the Hudson River in a building from the late 1800’s that has been renovated into lofts.  We are loving our new place and community.  Troy is super walkable with lots of independent restaurants and shops and has really cool architecture.  I even get my dream of walking to work – it is just up 20 flights of stairs.Troybots

Please note my new contact information.  My new email: pazouj@rpi.edu is a little weird, not having the last letter in my last name.

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Why UCF?

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Check out this video created by a talented group of students in our Project Engineering Course explaining why selecting UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is a great choice.

I got promoted in the video, but in real life I am still an Assistant Professor :-).  Also, I am featured around the 1 minute and 6 minute mark.  Benjamin Schepler, a recent UCF graduate, was the cinematographer and editor and did a great job with the video production.  His contact information is bschepler (at) gmail (dot) com.

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A Little Background

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A Little Background

To introduce myself as a researcher and as a teacher, I thought it might be helpful to share a little bit about my background and interests.  I’m an engineer, so how about a numbered list?

  1. I have a cool job.  Some of the perks include getting paid to learn, having autonomy in my research endeavors, and collaborating with great people.
  2. I am amazed by the simplicity and elegance of math and its ability to explain so many systems of the world.
  3. In elementary school, my class consisted of a total of 3 students (yes, that’s counting me).  I attended a 2-room country school a few miles from where I grew up in rural South Dakota.  The best part about this little country school on the Great Plains was that liking school was cool, which I believe is a foundation for a really great education.
  4. I like efficiency and logic.
  5. One of the best things about working in higher education is meeting all the amazing people from around the world.  I love learning about the different cultures, customs, politics, and religions.  Having a multinational set of friends and colleagues has greatly improved my cultural understanding of the world and its wonderful inhabitants.
  6. I tend to be a fairly private person, so bear with me as I begin on this voyage of telling the digital world about my research and teaching interests.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog that is intended to keep interested parties up to date on my latest research and teaching endeavors.  Specifically, I view this blog as a way to engage the online community by:

  1. Sharing — As we live in a society where the majority of us spend a great proportion of our days “staring at glowing rectangles” – I thought a digital presence to share my current research findings, projects, and insights would be valuable to the academic and industry community.
  2. Engaging — If anything you see on my blog is of interest to you, please contact me through email.  I am constantly looking for interesting research projects that are motivated by industry problems, as well as research collaborators throughout the world.
  3. Promoting —  Industrial engineering is a profession I am very lucky to have discovered and is a profession I find extremely valuable, practical, and rewarding.  Unfortunately, it is also a profession that tends to have a marketing problem.  When I give presentations to prospective students, I constantly get comments such as “I had no idea an industrial engineer did that.”  If this blog, in some small way, can get the word out about industrial engineering, there is an opportunity to match people with a career they find equally rewarding.