From Voting Systems to COVID-19 Pandemic, Industrial and Systems Engineers Tackle Tough Topics on International Podcast
ISE magazine Managing Editor Keith Albertson interviews guests Laura Albert, Ph.D., with the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a newly minted IISE Fellow, and Gretchen Macht, Ph.D., of the University of Rhode Island's College of Engineering. During the podcast, both ISE professors focus on voting processes and how they can be improved and streamlined for the benefit of all.
Typically, voting tools use "basic industrial engineering (IE) methods such as queuing models to estimate how many check-in booths and voting machines polling stations might use," explains Albert, who writes the Punk Rock Operations Research blog. She noted that such data did not factor in a pandemic.
While IE-related goals from waiting times to line lengths are "focused on typical operational performance,"
Macht, director of the URI Votes project team, adds, "Honestly, we don't know if this is the first election associated with a pandemic or the last. … But if we can use this data to help process future Election Day efforts, that would be great. The challenge is to synthesize this new knowledge so we can develop a better understanding. In every location there is technology, and in that technology, there is data.
"How can we use that big data to better understand about arrival patterns, about geographic distances in arrival patterns? ... Ultimately this is an opportunity to better understand that data with that increase in technology and in our voting systems so that we can make better decisions in the future."
Other recent Problem Solved: The IISE Podcast episodes include: "Israeli IE professor reflects on a life of problem-solving" featuring Shaul Ladany, a decorated educator and researcher, a Holocaust survivor and an Olympian and world-record holder in race walking, and "Engineers in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic," which focuses on healthcare engineers from May 2020 who have insight about how health systems are managing and operating through the COVID-19 crisis. Guests are Amanda Mewborn, vice president of facility planning and development at Navicent Health in Macon, Georgia, talking about her experience on the frontlines of patient care during the pandemic; Ali Hobbs, a healthcare consultant with Catalyst, a Haskell Company; and Aaron Kanne, executive director of implementation services at Care Logistics in Atlanta, discussing the Think Tank sessions sponsored by the Society for Health Systems throughout the spring.
According to IISE Web Managing Editor David Brandt, who produces IISE's podcasts, the twice-monthly shows and bonus episodes are gaining attention worldwide. "We're a few months into our second season and already our listening audience spans 89 countries. We're also attracting sponsors such as the University of Louisville Online Learning."
Problem Solved: The IISE Podcast is available at podcast.iise.org, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
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. Visit www.iise.org for more information.