Engineering department head accepts position at University of Tennessee

Miranda Buckheit
June 24, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Janis Terpenny, professor and Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Chair and head of the Penn State Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, has announced that she will join the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, effective July 15, 2019.

She will serve as the Wayne T. Davis Endowed Dean’s Chair and dean of the Tickle College of Engineering.

"Terpenney led the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering to achieve great things, including moving the department up six spots to sixth in the country for the U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Best Graduate Schools,’” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “She is a dedicated researcher and an innovative leader in engineering. We will miss her at Penn State, but we’re pleased to now have a partner at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and we’re excited to see what Janis achieves next.”

Terpenny joined Penn State in 2015 after serving as the Joseph Walkup Professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State University. In the past, she served as the technology lead for the Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. She also served as a program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), along with serving as a professor for Virginia Tech and for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to her experience working in higher education, she spent many years in industry with General Electric.

She brought her vast knowledge and industry experience to Penn State, as the director of the Center for e-Design. The Center for e-Design is a NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) comprised of seven universities nationwide. The center combines industry needs with academic resources to produce more efficient, effective and collaborative electronic design and smart manufacturing processes and tools.

“Janis' collaborative spirit has permeated throughout the department and the campus,” said Daniel Finke, assistant research professor in the Applied Research Laboratory and co-director for the Center of e-Design, Penn State site. “In her time as director, we have seen successful research collaborations among seven universities and more than 30 companies involving hundreds of student and faculty researchers. Here at Penn State, we have four active faculty from the engineering and business colleges working with students and industry partners on innovative design and manufacturing projects.”

Terpenny is a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers. She was inducted into the Virginia Tech Industrial and Systems Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2016, as well as Tau Beta Pi as an Eminent Engineer in 2011. In addition, she is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, Alpha Pi Mu and serves as an associate editor for the Engineering Economist.

“It has been a great pleasure working with Janis, as she is a visionary leader and a great friend,” said Hui Yang, Harold and Inge Marcus Career Associate Professor. “She is heading to a new, exciting opportunity and I wish her continued success in the new position.”

During her career, she has served as both principal investigator or co-principal investigator more than $16.5 million of sponsored research and has authored over 180 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications.

Her research interests are focused on engineering design and have included topics such as engineering design and smart manufacturing, including process and methods of early design; knowledge and information in design; product families and platforms; obsolescence in products and systems; complexity of products and systems; and cloud computing for design and manufacturing integration. Other topics include design education, such as multidisciplinary teams; the impacts of project choice and context on engagement and learning; and the retention and success of underrepresented students.

“I am going to miss my colleagues from the department, the College of Engineering and the larger Penn State community as I start a new chapter of my career,” Terpenny said. “I have appreciated the opportunity to work with such incredible faculty, students and staff. It has also been a pleasure working with several advisory boards, industry partners and alumni who are dedicated to contributing to lasting, impactful change.”

The University will launch a national search to find Terpenny’s replacement. Ling Rothrock, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, will serve as the interim department head.

“I gained a profound appreciation for Janis’ work during my preparation for the role of interim head,” said Ling Rothrock, professor and interim department head of the Penn State Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. “She has been a great ambassador for the department and the larger IME community and has effectively grown the program during her tenure. Janis was able to balance the requests of the University administration with the needs of the faculty, staff and students in the department. She will be missed.”

Last Updated October 17, 2019