Father and Son Share Unique Senior Design Experience

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Senior Design is known as the most important and also most challenging undergraduate course in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE).  The course pushes students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to solve a complex real-world problem that has a defined bottom-line impact for a corporation.  A small number of student teams will rise to the top as finalists in the end of semester Senior Design Competition. Only the best will win the coveted first place.  Among a team of students who won first place this past fall for a project sponsored by Railcar Management, Inc., was John Kang, IE 2011. 

Not only was this an exciting experience for John, it was also a unique one.  His father, Chang W. Kang, PhD, visiting professor in ISyE, advised a team of Senior Design students who were selected as finalists in the fall 2009 competition for a project sponsored by Manheim Auto Auctions.

“Seeing the Senior Design finalist posters displayed in ISyE depicting my dad and his team motivated me to prove myself through my own Senior Design project. I have to say that winning was somewhat of a surreal moment, and joy.  As a group, we wanted to be the Senior Design finalists, but to win it all was simply amazing,” said John Kang.

Dr. Kang also shared in his son’s excitement after learning John’s team was selected as first place winners.

“When my son sent me the list of winners and I saw his name, it was a dream come true.  I knew he would take Senior Design and hoped he would do well,” said Dr. Kang, also a professor in the Department of Industrial and Management Engineering at Hanyang University in Korea. 

To be successful in Senior Design, both John and his father agree that teamwork and meaningful collaboration among the advisor, students, and client are essential. 

John, who now works as an analyst at PROS Revenue Management, the world leader in profitability management and optimization software solutions, feels that Senior Design helped prepare him for his current position.  According to him, the course taught him the importance of working well with groups, as well as how to manage difficult or challenging problems.

Like John, Dr. Kang also realizes the value that Senior Design has on an IE student’s future.

“When I see students do well in Senior Design, I know they will do well in the real world,” said Dr. Kang.

Dr. Kang has contributed to ISyE over the last several years through his collaborations between Hanyang University in Korea and ISyE.  In 2011, he co-authored a book with Paul Kvam, associate chair for graduate studies and professor in ISyE, titled Basic Statistical Tools for Improving Quality, an introductory book on improving the quality of a process or system, primarily through the technique of statistical process control.


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