Date(s) - September 29, 2023
10:40 am - 11:30 am

Weil Hall 406

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Don Taylor
Date : Friday, September 29, 2023
Mode : In-Person
Affiliation: Virginia Tech
Bio: Visit Page


Topic: A Research Agenda Based on Richard Smalley’s Top Ten Problems of Humanity

Abstract: Research agendas have been offered by many groups and individuals over the years. These include the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges, the National Science Foundation’s 10 big ideas, the United Nations’ 10 Threats as defined by their High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and many others. One that is particularly compelling is Richard Smalley’s Top Ten Problems for Humanity. As a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry for his discovery of buckminsterfullerene (buckyballs), his list of research problems gained broad attention when first introduced 20 years ago, yet the problems remain equally daunting today. What is particularly compelling about his list is that it is prioritized, with the solution of each problem in turn leading to the solution of others lower on the list. Each of the 10 problems present broad challenges that will require solutions taking advantage of the full range of human endeavor, but there are certainly technological and management challenges that could be addressed by industrial engineers. The purpose of this seminar is to familiarize the audience with Smalley’s list, to provide a few statistics of interest, and to motivate creative thought about how industrial engineers can help to solve these problems of truly massive scale.

Speaker Bio: G. Don Taylor is the Executive Vice Provost and the Charles O. Gordon Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has also served as Head of the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, Vice Provost for Learning Systems Innovation and Effectiveness, and Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation at Virginia Tech. He came to Virginia Tech in 2004 from the University of Louisville where he held the Mary Lee and George F. Duthie Endowed Chair in Engineering Logistics and was a co-founder of the Center for Engineering Logistics and Distribution (CELDi). He has also previously held the rank of Full Professor at the University of Arkansas where he was the Director of The Logistics Institute (TLI), and has held visiting positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and at Aston University in England. He has industrial experience in both military and consumer electronics; the former at Texas Instruments in Lewisville, TX and the latter at Digital Equipment Corporation in Enfield, CT. Throughout his career, Prof. Taylor’s research has focused on the simulation and optimization of complex systems and the logistics of material flow and freight transportation. His research has led to more than 200 technical publications including 10 edited books. Prof. Taylor has made hundreds of formal presentations at conferences or seminars in more than 20 countries, and is a frequent keynote or plenary session speaker. He holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a PhD in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts. He is a Fellow and a Past-President of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), and is currently the inaugural Chairperson of the Board of IISE Solutions, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of IISE. His is a recipient of IISE’s prestigious Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award, a Fellow and past member of the Board of the World Academy of Productivity Science and is a registered Professional Engineer.