ISE Insider Fall 2023: Message from the Chair

David Kaber, Ph.D.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

This year, the ISE department research awards exceeded $4 million with some of this funding resulting from programs supporting translation of research to education. A new college partnership with Autodesk Corporation will support research in advanced manufacturing and production that provides a basis for new courses on human-centered design and design for manufacturability. ISE faculty were instrumental in Autodesk’s support for our programs.  

Related to this activity, Katie Basinger-Ellis, Ph.D., ISE’s Undergraduate Coordinator and an instructional assistant professor, collaborated with Sean Niemi, Ph.D., an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, to secure funding from the America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) initiative to support workforce development in Florida. This program provides training in advanced manufacturing, including machine tool use and advanced 3D modeling software, specifically Autodesk’s Fusion 360. 

The department has also received support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the integration of cutting-edge knowledge on collaborative (co)-robots and standards for safety in work with humans. UF was one of only five institutions to be awarded this type of funding, which will allow our faculty to complement current coursework in occupational safety engineering and human factors applications. The safety course has an undergraduate section, which is highly subscribed annually, allowing faculty to support the future generation’s knowledge of human-robot interaction principles. 

The department has also received other recent support for novel research in optimization methods for shared electric micro-mobility systems (Yu Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor) and federated learning approaches to collaborative smart farming (Mostafa Reisi Gahrooei, Ph.D., assistant professor) in collaboration with UF Institute of Food & Agricultural Science faculty. The projects represent inaugural and additional NSF (National Science Foundation) grants for tenure-track faculty in the department that will provide support for additional Ph.D. students. Related to this, department Ph.D. student enrollment has substantially increased this year with 15 new students entering in this fall term. Current active research awards for the department are at $7M+ with an overall Ph.D. student population of ~46 students. 

ISE continues to focus on recruiting faculty and students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This fall our undergraduate program enrollment has increased with a projection of 462 students, including 47% female students and 45% underrepresented groups. Over the past five and a half years, ISE department female faculty representation has increased from 25% to 48% with ISE faculty currently advising the Society of Women Engineers chapter for the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. The department has also hosted recent events to highlight contributions and experiences of women in engineering (see article in this issue). 

Toward accommodating broad student interest in ISE-related topics, we have developed several new graduate programs in the past three years. Aside from the certificates covered in this issue, the department most recently received approvals for additional masters-level certificates in “Financial Math & Optimization,” “Financial Risk Analysis and Management” and “Financial Technology.” These programs will be delivered on-campus and are candidates for the new UF Jacksonville Graduate Center. We believe these activities have contributed to the recognition and reputation of the ISE graduate program with an elevation in our public graduate program ranking to #11 (USNWR, 2023). 

Lastly, this year also brought achievements and accolades for our ISE alums and current students. Our alumni, who have developed their own companies (e.g., Michael Hirsch and Trey Lauderdale) continue to excel with a Gator100 award and induction in our ISE Hall of Fame. Other alumni (Josh Bass) have developed outstanding corporate careers and have given back to the department in terms of their time and expertise. This has also led to recognition in our Hall of Fame. Finally, our students continue to excel in competitions, including Anushka Radhakrishnan winning the Raytheon annual Tech Competition for supply chain solutions. Related to this, the department awarded 23 scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students along with four other Latin-American Caribbean program scholarship recipients. We are fortunate to have such outstanding students in ISE and graduates, who are impacting our world. 

As an update to our spring newsletter, the department has recently completed its search for a new chair, and I anticipate a leadership changeover at the beginning of the new year. Once again, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead such a forward-looking department in a high-growth college of engineering over the past five and a half years. I believe the department has made major strides in terms of the faculty team, academic program development and research enterprise. I believe the vision to create a broad-based ISE department at UF was an incredibly positive and transformational change for the faculty and students. There is additional growth to come for the department in expanding instructional capacity and breadth of coverage of the ISE discipline even further to support innovative teaching and scholarly activities. I look forward to the future of the department. 

As always, we welcome your input on department initiatives and programs. We also hope to hear about any new developments in your careers and/or personal achievements. Please reach out with any feedback at: We hope to hear from you!  

Best regards and GO GATORS!

Dave Kaber
ISE Department Chair, Dean’s Leadership Professor