College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Sarah Ryan named chair of the Iowa State University Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Sarah Ryan fold her arms across her chest and smiles for the camera.
Sarah Ryan folds her arms across her chest and smiles for the camera.
Dr. Sarah Ryan

AMES, Iowa – Sarah Ryan has been named the C.G. “Turk” and Joyce A. Therkildsen Department Chair of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Iowa State University. Ryan served as the recent interim department chair and her permanent appointment begins immediately.

Ryan is an accomplished scholar, teacher and decision-maker who will bring great energy to this position. She will continue to advance the department with her vision, leadership and creativity. “Sarah is passionate about providing students the highest quality education, said Samuel Easterling, dean of the College of Engineering. “Working closely with faculty and staff, Sarah plays a vital role in developing our future engineering leaders who will make an impact in their communities around the world.”

Ryan has a combination of both academic and industrial experience. While pursuing her doctorate degree she was an intern for General Motors Research Laboratories where she developed new product program investment strategies. She also consulted for Homart Development Company (a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck and Company) and worked in the Eastman Chemical Company’s management engineering services group. Her first tenure-track faculty appointment was at the University of Pittsburgh. She then spent four years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln prior to joining the Iowa State faculty in 1999. She also served as a visiting associate professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

In addition to serving as the IMSE interim chair two different times, Ryan was also the department’s associate chair of research and director of graduate education. She currently directs the DataFEWSion Graduate Traineeship at Iowa State – a program focused on research at the nexus of food, energy and water systems.

Ryan’s research examines the planning and operation of manufacturing, energy, and service systems under uncertainty. Currently, she is focusing on supply chain design for distributed manufacturing and renewable energy integration. Methodological issues under study by her research group include the assessment of input reliability and solution quality in stochastic programming models for optimization under uncertainty. Ryan has received a number of prestigious honors during her career including an NSF CAREER Award and the Wellington Award from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE). She holds the rank of Fellow in IISE and has also been elected to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. She previously served as editor-in-chief of The Engineering Economist journal.

“I am excited about this new opportunity to serve as the permanent department chair,” Ryan said. “I’m looking forward to sharing my vision and contributing to the excellent reputation of the college. My leadership experiences in the department, interdisciplinary research projects, and industrial engineering scholarship will help support the department moving forward.”

Ryan received her bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from The University of Virginia, and her master’s and doctorate in industrial and operations engineering from The University of Michigan. Her teaching at Iowa State has focused on engineering economic analysis, stochastic modeling, and optimization under uncertainty.

The Iowa State IMSE department was officially established in 1929 and has been a leader in providing students with a classical industrial engineering foundation, while also engaging in discovery and outreach to prepare them for the careers of tomorrow.