Professor Gavriel Salvendy: Committed to the Betterment of Society 2010.06.01

"My family. It’s a very close family," is how Professor Gavriel Salvendy describes Tsinghua University’s Department of Industrial Engineering.  As the Founding Chair Professor and Department Head, Gavriel Salvendy, together with Professor Zheng Li, have turned the fledgling department into the number one industrial engineering department in the country.  When asked which of his achievements he is most proud of, he is quick to tell us of the joy he has found in building up the IE department. 

Professor Salvendy is certainly not lacking in achievements to take pride in.  Among his many accomplishments, he is also professor emeritus at Purdue University, has authored or co-authored over 530 research publications, and is the author or editor of 35 books.  He is the founding editor of two journals: the International Journal on Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing and Service Industries.  He was also the founding chair of the International Commission on Human Aspects in Computing, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. 

In 1995, his influence on the development of science and technology in China led to him being the fourth person to ever receive an Honorary Doctorate from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Academy’s 45-year history.   The Chinese government bestowed the Friendship Award, the highest honor conferred on foreign experts, upon Professor Salvendy in 2006. The next year, he received the John Fritz Medal, the engineering profession’s highest award, for his "fundamental international and seminal leadership and technical contributions to human engineering and industrial engineering education, theory, and practice".

However, Professor Salvendy shows no signs of resting on his laurels.  He is committed to continue to build Tsinghua’s IE department into in the undisputed number one of its kind in the world by 2021.  He expects that the next international review in April 2011 – an event in which members of the National Academy of Engineering will evaluate the department – will reflect this and the department will move up the worldwide rankings.  As a still-young department, it has both the flexibility and trajectory to achieve this goal.  He hopes to expand the faculty from its current 25 members to over 50 members by continuing to select only the very best in the field from around the world.

When he was first offered the position as the first Chair Professor of the IE department, his decision was greatly influenced by the students of Tsinghua.  Among his 67 former and current PhD students, he has always been impressed by the quality of students from Tsinghua.  Those he mentored in Purdue were consistently at the top of their class. The responsibility to provide them with an excellent education program is one of great gravity.  He intends to not only provide students with content knowledge, but to also encourage them to reach their maximum creative potential. 

These tools will fully equip the students to improve the quality of life of others, the true goal of industrial engineering.  This objective is one Salvendy hopes to bring about as swiftly as possible.  He and Professor Zheng plan to extend the students’ mandatory community service time by working jointly with industrial engineering faculty who are volunteering their time to increase the economic, social and overall quality of life of individuals with special needs by utilizing industrial engineering methods and tools.

One only needs to look at Professor Salvendy’s recent work on web interfaces to catch a glimpse of his own devotion to those more disadvantaged.  In recent years he has been altering and refining those systems that are still too complicated to make them more accessible to those who are elderly or have special needs, a group that could easily compose up to ten percent of society. 

Industrial engineers have already been pivotal in improving efficiency in the manufacturing sector.  As China’s tertiary industry expands, Salvendy also foresees an increasing need for industrial engineering.  Future industrial engineers, like those studying under Salvendy, will need to improve the quality and efficiency of areas such as healthcare, banking and financial institutions. 

Behind his jolly exterior is clearly a man aware of what society needs and possesses the drive to deliver results. The students of Industrial Engineering are certainly in capable hands with Professor Salvendy. By Vivien Li) 

Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University
Phone: 010-62772989
Address:Shunde Building, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084

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