Engineering scholars investigate service system challenges on campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Undergraduate industrial engineering (IE) students can apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world service system challenges by being selected as a Service Enterprise Engineering (SEE) 360 scholar. 

This experience is awarded to students enrolled in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering that exhibit the desire to apply engineering techniques to SEE problems.

Charles Schneider, chair of the SEE 360 Advisory Board, is dedicated to achieving the initiative’s mission of introducing engineering students to opportunities in labor-intensive service industries.

“SEE 360 strives to highlight the endless potential engineering majors have to improve service operations and ultimately, the economy at large," said Schneider. "By encouraging students to explore these career paths, we hope to increase the productivity and quality of such major service sectors as health care and governmental services through the utilization of engineering techniques.”

IE students Steven Richards and Matthew Hoffman are the latest additions to the SEE scholars team​ after being recommended as candidates by members of the Marcus Department faculty last spring.

Currently, the scholars are tasked with collecting data and forming research solutions for vendors that SEE 360 collaborates with, such as the Berkey Creamery and Beaver Stadium on campus.

“I am hoping to refine the skills that I have learned in the classroom and through previous experience while simultaneously making improvements to various on-campus operations here at Penn State," said Richards.

Richards was previously an industrial engineering professional intern for the Walt Disney Company and intends to work as a consultant upon graduation in May.

Hoffman, a former industrial engineering intern for Boscov’s department store, is dedicated to utilizing engineering techniques to find solutions that improve the daily lives of his peers.

“I am so excited to work on providing lasting positive changes in the Penn State community,” said Hoffman. “To me, the most exciting part of being a scholar is having the ability to help fix issues that every Penn Stater has faced before, like the bathroom lines in Beaver Stadium or the dreaded Creamery line.”

The SEE scholars collected data for 12 hours in the Creamery on the first Penn State football Saturday with the goal of formulating solutions to reduce wait times.

Line outside of Berkey Creamery

Just a fraction of the line outside of the Penn State Berkey Creamery on the first football Saturday of the fall 2018 season.

Image: Penn State

The scholars work under SEE 360 Director Vittal Prabhu and newly-appointed Associate Director Bárbara Venegas. Venegas is leading the scholar’s research projects as well as spearheading collaboration with more companies in the service industry.

“Our undergrads will soon join a predominately service-based workforce in a time when every company is attempting to optimize resources and improve customer service,” said Venegas. “The solutions our scholars will be developing can be scaled to meet the needs of such companies."

SEE 360 offers students a rare opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom to problems they face as consumers on campus. Charles Purdum, assistant teaching professor, the Marcus Department’s director of industry relations and a faculty adviser for senior capstone project teams, highlights the advantages that SEE scholars have over other candidates upon entering the job market.

“SEE scholars are able to leverage their real-world experience to hit the ground running when they begin their assignments in industry,” said Purdum.

For more information on the SEE 360 Initiative or to learn how to apply to be an SEE scholar, contact Bárbara Venegas at 814-863-5742 or bbv105@psu.edu.

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Last Updated September 13, 2018