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The Role of Industrial Engineers in Solving Global Societal Problems

Professor Adedeji B. Badiru, Dean and senior academic officer for the Graduate School of Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)

The fourteen grand challenges of engineering, compiled by the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2008, have implications for every country in the world.  Engineers in 2020 will need diverse skills to tackle the multitude of issues and factors involved in adequately and successfully addressing the challenges.  An extract from the NAE document on the 14 grand challenges says, “In sum, governmental and institutional, political and economic, and personal and social barriers will repeatedly arise to impede the pursuit of solutions to problems. As they have throughout history, engineers will have to integrate their methods and solutions with the goals and desires of all society’s members”.  This statement emphasizes the relevance of a holistic systems thinking approach in solving the multi-faceted global problems that we face now and will face in the future.  Industrial engineers, by virtue of their versatility, are best positioned to make contributions globally in solving societal problems cited by NAE. This presentation will discuss the critical skills that industrial engineers must have in the 2020 timeframe in order to contribute to devising sustainable solutions to our global problems. Industrial engineering skills will be the cornerstone for integrating the multiple requirements across geographical boundaries as well as across cultural divides.  Ideas will be presented in this seminar on how to leverage IE specialty areas, such as Supply Chain, Energy, Health Care, Simulation, and so on, as hot topics to address global challenges. In doing this, the seminar will present the speaker’s 15 Grand Challenges for Industrial Engineering Education.


Prof. Badiru is Dean and senior academic officer for the Graduate School of Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT).  With oversight for over $90 million annual budget, he is responsible for planning, directing, and controlling all operations related to granting doctoral and master’s degrees, professional continuing cyber education, and research and development programs.  He was previously Professor and Head of Systems Engineering and Management at the AFIT, Professor and Department Head of Industrial & Information Engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Professor of Industrial Engineering and Dean of University College at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.  He is a registered professional engineer (PE), a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering.  He holds BS in Industrial Engineering, MS in Mathematics, and MS in Industrial Engineering from Tennessee Technological University, and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida.  His areas of interest include mathematical modeling, project modeling and analysis, economic analysis, systems engineering, and efficiency/productivity analysis & improvement.  He is the author of over 25 books, 34 book chapters, 70 technical journal articles, 110 conference proceedings and presentations.  He also has published 25 magazine articles and 20 editorials and periodicals.  He is a member of several professional associations and scholastic honor societies. Prof. Badiru has won several awards for his teaching, research, and professional accomplishments.  He is the recipient of the 2009 Dayton Affiliate Society Council Award for Outstanding Scientists and Engineers in the Education category with a commendation from the 128th Senate of Ohio.  He also won 2010 IIE/Joint Publishers Book-of-the-Year Award for co-editing The Handbook of Military Industrial Engineering.  He also won 2010 ASEE John Imhoff Award for his global contributions to Industrial Engineering Education, the 2011 Federal Employee of the Year Award in the Managerial Category from the International Public Management Association, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the 2012 Distinguished Engineering Alum Award from the University of Central Florida, and the 2012 Medallion Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers for his global contributions in the advancement of the profession. In February 2013, Prof. Badiru was selected as a finalist for the Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) program by the US National Academy of Sciences and the US Department of State. Badiru was the 2015 US Air Force Selectee for 2015 National Public Service Award.

He has served as a consultant to several organizations around the world including Russia, Mexico, Taiwan, Nigeria, and Ghana.  He has conducted customized training workshops for numerous organizations including Sony, AT&T, Seagate Technology, U.S. Air Force, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Oklahoma Asphalt Pavement Association, Hitachi, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, and ExxonMobil.  He holds a leadership certificate from the University Tennessee Leadership Institute.  Prof. Badiru has served as a Technical Project Reviewer, curriculum reviewer, and proposal reviewer for several organizations including The Third-World Network of Scientific Organizations, Italy, National Science Foundation, National Research Council, and the American Council on Education.   He is on the editorial and review boards of several technical journals and book publishers. Prof. Badiru has also served as an Industrial Development Consultant to the United Nations Development Program.  He is also a Program Evaluator for ABET.  In 2011, Prof. Badiru led a research team to develop analytical models for Systems Engineering Research Efficiency (SEER) for the Air Force acquisitions integration office at the Pentagon.  He has led a multi-year composite manufacturing collaborative research between the Air Force Institute of Technology and Wyle Aerospace Company. Prof. Badiru has diverse areas of avocation.  His professional accomplishments are coupled with his passion for writing about everyday events and interpersonal issues, especially those dealing with social responsibility.  Outside of the academic realm, he writes motivational poems, editorials, and newspaper commentaries; as well as engaging in paintings and crafts that can be viewed at under Deji’s Concrete Expressions.  He also manages a STEM-and-soccer education website,  He is the founder of the Association of Military Industrial Engineers (AMIE),  He also runs ABICS Publications (, through which he publishes non-technical guide books for home, work, and leisure. He is currently on the Transformation Team for ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education).