Ryerson University Professor
Former IIE Ryerson Student Chapter Faculty Advisor
*As published in our November-December newsletter issue
Tell us about yourself and your academic background.
I completed my undergraduate and my master’s degrees in industrial engineering in Iran. After completing my undergraduate degree and partly during my first graduate program, I worked for about five years in different industrial and consulting companies in different areas such as production planning and project management. In 1993, I moved to Canada with my family to do my doctoral studies and I completed my PhD degree in 1997 at the University of Ottawa. In my PhD research, I worked on different design and planning issues in production systems using meta-heuristics and neural networks. After completion of my doctoral program, I did one year of post-doctoral research in the business school of the University of Ottawa. I also started teaching on a part-time basis in Ottawa at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In 1998, I joined JDS Uniphase, a fiber optics component manufacturer in Ottawa and I worked there for a year until I joined Ryerson in 1999.
How long have you been teaching at Ryerson and which classes have you taught so far?
I have been teaching at Ryerson for thirteen years, and I have taught Introduction to Management, Manufacturing Fundamentals, Decision Analysis, Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Operations Research, Operations Management, and Simulation. I have also taught a graduate course in Simulation since the beginning of our graduate program in 2001.
Did you have an interest in productivity improvement and simulation before you started university or did it develop over the years?
Like many other first-year students, I didn’t know much about the industrial engineering areas when I joined my undergraduate program nearly 30 years ago, but soon after, I started to learn more about this field. The more I learned about IE, the more I liked it. I learned very soon that we can never be perfect but we can always make improvements in everything we do. As for simulation, I didn’t know much about it until the last semester of my undergraduate program in 1988, and I enjoyed the subject very much. When I started my graduate studies, I took the graduate level course in simulation, and it was again another enjoyable experience. I think I never lost that interest. The very first course that I taught in Ottawa after completion of my PhD was a graduate level course in Simulation, and thirteen years later, I am still teaching this subject with great interest. I think simulation is a great tool that can help us gain valuable insights into complex engineering, business and social problems.
As the incumbent IIE Faculty Advisor for IIE Ryerson Student Chapter since 2012, what can you say about the chapter? Do you have any comments on how it has grown as you’ve witnessed throughout the years?
Our student chapter has gone through many years of experience and development. The chapter has tremendously moved in a few years from an inactive status to one of the best managed chapters in Canada and internationally. The success of the chapter is entirely due to the hard work of dedicated students who diligently managed the chapter and supported the activities of the chapter year after year. Among many other elements of this growth, I found student competitions to be of great importance as they generate vast motivation and participation amongst all students. The learning experience of these competitions is priceless.
What did it mean for you to win the Outstanding IIE Global Faculty Award last month?
This award means a great deal to me for a number of reasons. Above all, it comes with a nomination from students. Being nominated by our students is a stamp of approval of what the chapter and its executives have done over the years. It is also very important as it puts our university’s name on display at an international level. And finally, when finishing my term as the Faculty Advisor, what else is better than the IIE Global Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award?
What are your suggestions to Ryerson students to improve their academic success and things to avoid in their way of learning during university life?
– Do not leave a subject before you fully understand it.
– Although it is not always easy, try to make connections between the subject and the real world.
– Do not procrastinate.
Can you give three pieces of advice for graduating students?
– Do not stop learning,
– Improve your social skills, even if you think it is already good.
– Do not throw away your books and notes.
Can you tell us about the three things you like and dislike to see from students?
I like to see students:
– take their education seriously,
– engage in class discussions, and
– care about academic integrity.
I do not like to see students:
– missing term tests or exams because they are not prepared,
– frequently arriving late or skipping classes, and
– sleeping in class (although I should be blamed for this if it happens).
Can you tell us about any of your academic plans ahead or any recent papers to be published soon?
I have a few papers from my recent PhD supervisions that are currently under review. They are in two separate (but interrelated) areas. One area deals with loyalty reward programs where customers receive reward points for repeat purchase behaviour, and the other area deals with the modeling of human boredom at work and strategies for reducing such boredom. In my future research plans, I am trying to make connections between these two areas by developing (a) job rotation strategies to improve boredom, and (b) incentive plans to reward good performance. Due to complexity and the behavioural aspects of the problem, an agent-based modeling approach will be used.
What do you think of the current economic situation around the world?
I am not an expert in economy, but like many others and despite of a global slowdown, I can see a shift in favour of emerging markets especially in Asia.
Can you tell us which book/books you find interesting to read?
I know this is not the answer you would expect, but I find any applied statistics book interesting.
What are your hobbies and activities that you do in your free time?
If I find extra time, I enjoy brain teasers. I also like history, a subject that I don’t know much about, but if I find time, I’d like to learn more. Also, for many years I have been trying to learn playing guitar but I can hardly find real free time for that. Hopefully some day I learn how to play.