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Thomas named IISE Fellow

Michael Foss (left), IISE Past President, presents Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus Warren Thomas with the IISE Fellow Award at the 2017 IISE Annual Conference and Expo.

By Sarah D'Iorio

Published July 12, 2017

“I volunteer my time as a way of giving back to UB, but also to say thank you to Dr. Thomas for believing in me, which has resulted in my having a very successful career of 42 years.”
Patrick Abrami, BS ‘72, MS ’75

Warren Thomas, a distinguished teaching professor emeritus in UB’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is a recipient of the 2017 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Fellow Award.

The IISE Fellow Award recognizes outstanding leaders in the profession who have made significant, nationally recognized contributions to industrial and systems engineering. Candidates must excel in their professional careers in management, technical innovation or practice innovation. They must also qualify in two of three specific criteria and excel in at least one: IISE service, interdisciplinary activity and leadership in promoting industrial engineering.

Thomas was nominated for the fellow by members of the Executive Committee of the IISE Accreditation Advisory Council. He was actively involved with the Executive Committee for about 25 years, during which time he was responsible for ABET Program Evaluator assignments for the United States and international accreditation visits. He continues to work closely with ABET engineering accreditation commissioner, Bopaya Bidanda, professor and chair in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thomas, who joined the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in 1963, served as department chair for 18 years and as associate dean for undergraduate affairs for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences for eight years. His research and teaching interests included discrete systems simulation, production and inventory control, and manufacturing systems engineering. He received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1973 and was promoted to Distinguished Teaching Professor in 1977.

“He was always accessible to the undergraduates and graduate students alike,” said industrial engineering alumnus Patrick Abrami, BS ‘72, MS ’75, who is a partner and consultant at Applied Management Systems, a Massachusetts-based health care operations consulting firm.

Abrami said that Thomas not only encouraged his academic growth but made it financially feasible for him to say on to complete his master’s degree by helping him find assistantships. He now serves as the Chair of the Industrial Systems Engineering Advisory Board, a position he has held for the past six years.

“I volunteer my time as a way of giving back to UB, but also to say thank you to Dr. Thomas for believing in me, which has resulted in my having a very successful career of 42 years,” he said.

In her address accepting the 2017 SEAS Dean’s Award, industrial engineering alumna Ann Wegrzyn (BS ’85, MBA ’91), described how Thomas helped her with challenges she faced as an undergraduate.

“I thought about changing majors but I had a faculty member who had become my mentor—Dr. Warren Thomas. He encouraged me, showed me the bigger picture, and I continued in industrial engineering,” said Wegrzyn, who is Chief Information Officer at National Fuel Gas and also serves on the Industrial Systems Engineering Advisory Board.

Thomas was presented with the award, which grants recipients the highest classification of IISE membership, on May 22 at the IISE Annual Conference and Expo, held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

About IISE

The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers is the world’s largest professional society dedicated solely to the support of the industrial engineering profession and individuals involved with improving quality and productivity. Founded in 1948, IISE is an international, nonprofit association that provides knowledge, training, networking opportunities and recognition to enhance the skills and effectiveness of its members, customers and the profession.