Dr. John Zahorjan Student Scholarship Fund

About the Scholarship

The John Zahorjan Student Scholarship provides tuition support for Engineering Management students in their first term of study. Between 3-4 awards are made each year. Ideal applicants plan to pursue Engineering Management in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, with a demonstrated interest in applying IE principles in practice after graduation. They must possess enthusiasm for the degree, strive to achieve their own maximum potential and have a high level of achievement. NYS residency preferred.

Interested students should complete a brief scholarship application form at the time of application to the Engineering Management program. Selections occur in September and January.

Selection Procedures

The selection is to be made by the faculty of the Industrial and Systems department at UB during the graduate admissions process.

Past Recipients

2023: Jared Hallberg and Lakshay Sharma

2022-23: Jenny Moya, Parry Tu and Meixiang Mai

2021-22: Santana Hernandez and Stephanie Parshall

2020-21: Kira Andrade Solano

2018-19: Brandon Buesching

2016-17: Leo Kust

2015-16: Levi Rickard, Rachel Petrone

2014-15: Jonathan Braun 

2013-14: Broch Hoffman, Nicholas Krueter

2012-13: Emily Landesburg

2009-10: Jovan Dhillon

2008-09: David Payne

2007-08: David Payne, Karan Kumar Vaidya

2006-07: Gunvanti Marathe, Deepika Vij

2005-06: Mylinda Snyder, Joe Mathew

2004-05: Morris Green, Jr., Pierre St. Louis

2003-04: Morris Green, Jr., Pierre St. Louis

2002-03: Morris Green, Jr., Pierre St. Louis

2001-02: Morris Green Jr.

2000-01: Witawat Wattanapanom

Who was Dr. John Zahorjan?


Dr. John Zahorjan, P.E., former Adjunct Professor of Industrial Engineering, rose through the ranks of manufacturing industry, from the 50s to the 80s, to become Vice President of Operations for Fisher-Price Toys. He began his career in 1950 as a Methods Engineer at RCA after graduating with a BS in Industrial Engineering from Columbia. From there, his career took him to Magnavox, then a promotion to Chief Industrial Engineer brought him to F. W. Sickles Company, a division of General Instruments Corporation. In 1957, he was named Plant Manager at Phillips Control Corporation. After six more years as Chief Inspector at the John Oster Company, part of Sunbeam Corporation, Dr. Zahorjan joined Fisher-Price in 1964 where he retired in 1983 as Vice President of Operations. During his tenure as vice president, Fisher-Price expanded its operations from two plants in the US to five US plants as well as two in Mexico and two others in Europe. In its domestic plants, Fisher-Price grew to employ over 10,000 people, up from 1,200 just a few years before. As the first licensed professional engineer hired at Fisher-Price, Dr. Zahorjan was instrumental in modernizing quality control. He emphasized reliability before it was fashionable to do so, placing value on extending the functional life of products many-fold.

“I find that students are generally better than they know they are, and I want to prove it to them. ”
Dr. John Zahorjan

He has also held the positions of Executive Vice President, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer as well as a member of the board of directors of Q.O. Toys of Canada; Signing Vice President of Quaker Oats Company; Treasurer and member of the board of directors at Montron Corporation; and Chairman of the board of directors at AFI de Mexico, S.A.


Although Dr. Zahorjan retired from Fisher-Price in 1983, his career did not end there. While at Fisher-Price, he earned a Ph.D. from UB in operations research, adding academic credentials to his already impressive industrial ones. In 1983, he joined the faculty of the School of Engineering at UB and began building an active consulting career. His list of past clients was extensive and impressive.

Dr. Zahorjan's industrial and academic expertise provided a basis for the department of Industrial and Systems's Master of Engineering program in Engineering Management. Dr. Zahorjan taught four highly enrolled classes a year in this program. The positive feedback the department got from his students and the continuing high M.E. enrollments mean that Dr. Zahorjan, as Industrial and Systems professor Colin Drury humorously understates, was "doing his typical quality job for the school." Dr. Zahorjan got immense pleasure from working with students. "I find that students," he once said, "are generally better than they know they are, and I want to prove it to them." He believed that students learn best if they participate; he insisted that they speak up in class and be prepared to ingest material and then teach it to the rest of the class. "I have a verbal contract with my students: I'll help them work to be successful; but they have to believe they are going to be successful; and they have to keep us at the school informed of their success after they leave here." Dr. Zahorjan also ran the Industrial and Systems's undergraduate internship program from 1983 to 1999, soliciting projects, matching projects to student needs, and mentoring the progress of these students.

Dr. Zahorjan's management and consulting expertise was one of the foundations for The Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE) at UB. Under his leadership, teams from the Schools of Engineering and Management consulted with many local industries, finding ways to help them profit by staying in or by expanding within the local area. News stories locally have touted the effectiveness of TCIE, crediting the program with saving or creating "thousands of jobs." In 1989 and 1991, TCIE received "Project of the Year" awards from the National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers (NAMTAC) for their work with, respectively, SKF-MRC Bearings and General Mills. Dr. Zahorjan was the leader of both projects.

Each year the UB School of Engineering presents its highest honor to a person who has made an exceptional contribution to the practice of engineering. The 1999 Dean's Award for Engineering Achievement was awarded to two recipients: Eli Ruckenstein (Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest, Ph.D., 1966) and John Zahorjan (UB, Ph.D. IE, 1974). Both men have had exceptional professional careers. Dr. Ruckenstein's scientific inquiry and his mentoring of young researchers are internationally recognized. Dr. Zahorjan's industrial career, his teaching and his dedication to advising students in the practice of engineering expressed excellence and dedication.

Dr. Zahorjan wanted to be an engineer since he was a young boy. He says he has always been mechanically inclined, inheriting that quality from his father. He has always, he related, been interested in learning, has always had a "need to know how it works." Commending Dr. Zahorjan's service to the school and to the Industrial and Systems department, Dr. Drury jokes, "In our department, John's 'retirement' [was] somewhat illusory." His so-called "retirement" has, in actuality, been a second career-a second career in which Dr. John Zahorjan has brought the lessons of a lifetime to the service of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Department of Industrial and Systems, and most especially to the hundreds, if not thousands, of students he has influenced and who now make quality their watchword.


Dr. Zahorjan and his wife Madeline celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in September of 1999. They have three children: Joan, a lawyer in Boston; John, professor of computer science at the University of Washington; and Irene McNamara, who has an MBA in finance management. Dr. Zahorjan and Madeline have three grandchildren.