Ryerson University Professor and Industrial Internship Program Coordinator,
*As published in our September newsletter issue
Tell us about your academic background.
I did my Honours Degree in Mathematics and Physics at Bombay University then my BTech degree at Ryerson in the early 70’s while I was working. In that period at Ryerson, I completed Industrial Engineering with the Computer Science option. I continued working and I’m happy to say, got sponsored by a company and completed my Masters of Applied Science in Management Science at University of Waterloo. Last but not the least, I completed my PhD at University of Toronto, in that area of Industrial Engineering Information Systems with a high focus on applying Artificial Intelligence for real-time cost management in industries.
Why the switch from Mathematics and Physics to IE?
The more I look at IE, the more I see that is very process-oriented and very quickly it schools your mind. It gives you an exposure and you look at everything beyond narrow constraints and narrow boundaries. I think that is the key aspect that I feel IE can be a contributor towards the expansion and profitability of companies. So when I came to Canada, I saw IE and saw the focus that it has on these aspects. But you would also need a good background in the mathematics and physics area because some of the solid fundamentals are there, it’s engineering. So it augmented and complemented this aspect of process orientation. And of course with the computer science aspect that I did with Ryerson too, it was definitely very advantageous from that standpoint to actually reinforce the fact that IE is very much for me.
At which point in your life did you decide to start to teach IE at Ryerson and why?
Quite honestly, I was already working in the corporate world with various companies as an IE and also as a corporate systems analyst for some big corporations. And I was very fortunate that somebody contacted me from Ryerson, to fill in for a professor who fell ill, since I was already very involved at that time with operations research, inventory optimization, and scheduling optimization. At that time I was already reporting and working between Toronto and New York, so the fulltime daytime program actually got transferred to the evening for my benefit, since I didn’t have the availability.
And of course I liked Ryerson because I graduated from Ryerson and I loved the practical background. So I came in to teach a particular course and they made me an offer for a fulltime position. That was in the early 70’s, so over 25 years.
What are your thoughts on the recent economic crisis?
I’m happy to say that amidst this crisis, I see Canada as being very well positioned and well poised. Because amidst this turmoil, while the other big economies take some very drastic steps, Canada will be affected but not damaged at a very large extent. So we have the opportunity at this time to attract the great minds from around the world.
In terms of the things that are happening in Canada, because of the safety of our financial system, our banking system did well. Our deficits, debt ratio to the GDP, is the lowest in the G7 countries. So if you look at that, these figures substantiate the fact that if investments were to come in then this would be the right place. And we should leverage this to take the great minds. We can do that through our universities, attract foreign students and of course research as well. That’s a plus amidst this economic crisis.
How do you think communication is important for students?
In the engineering profession, you would have to be communicating both orally and in writing. So students should pay very close attention to communications such as grammar and spelling. Take the time to intensively and creatively write. Do not get into the habit of straightaway trying to have short spans of reading in the internet but get the habit of reading non-technical books as well as technical books, so that you can instil in your mind some creative thoughts whether you’re writing a technical report or motivating some people in your company, for example. Communication is extremely important in that direction.
Right now, there are so many industries available for career choices. As an IE in myundergraduate year, where should I be heading? How do I know which industry to choose?
Go to the industry that you sense is having a lot of problems. This is my conclusion after being many years in IE. When there are problems in any company, any type of industry, whether it be in the educational sector, administration, in the government, financial or manufacturing, I find that our IE process viewing paradigm that is instilled in us can help improve processes in any industry. So I wouldn’t worry about the sector. The more trouble you see in any sector, the more opportunity you get. When there is weakness, then IE has an opportunity.
What are the three things you would like to see from your students?
Absolutely enjoy your student life. Go to social events but have excellent time management. You can go out and have fun but before you go, you need to accomplish some aspect of an assignment. But definitely enjoy your student days, because those days are the golden days.
Secondly, pay very close attention to allocating time with yourself to get physical activity. One of the things that irks me is that people spend too much time behind the desks, too much time on all these gadgets and they don’t bother with playing in a team and getting the adrenaline rush from a physical activity.
And lastly, cultivate an aspect of discipline and respect for others. Make sure that your attitude is positive and be open to the fact that you may be restrained. The aspect of discipline and respect should be instilled in you and you should be made aware of. This is something that will build up your personality and will improve the way you interact with a number of people. Because remember as you keep going on with your career, you’ll be meeting people of different demographics.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I try to spend a lot of time on the social aspect of it. For example, I work with a volunteering group with Homes for the Aged. I sit on the advisory board. Also presently through the company I have established, we look at doing a couple of days with charity organizations that distribute food. I try to take as much part with that, as well as raising money through the Nissan Corporation, where they hold sports events for breast cancer. So I had experience with that and got involved with that respect.
What are the things that make you happy in general?
One thing that makes me happy is the fact that I look forward to working with young people. One of the great things is that I look forward to coming in to work, I mean working with the students, if you can call it work. It’s enjoyable in that respect. Also, I definitely enjoy traveling and tasting different foods.
You mentioned traveling, so what are your three favourite spots around the world that you always look forward to go to?
My wife and I have always been fond of looking at the historical background of countries and museums. So I’ve been fortunate that even though I’ve been sent out to do work in some other area, we always go on for a few more days and visit museums. That really draws my attention because it’s wonderful to look at the kind of cultures from days gone by. I’ve been fortunate to have gone to China and India, I’ve travelled quite a bit over there and looked at the history of those areas. Europe has been excellent as well, I was in Vienna and the museums are just excellent.
What are the three things you don’t like to see, you hate or annoy you?
The first thing that I look at with sad eyes is when I see younger people who seem to not want to focus their attention on what they are doing. It’s unfortunate to see young people who are unemployed who don’t have a goal and don’t want to take any steps to their improvement. They become very indifferent and not willing to come halfway.
Secondly, some of our institutions and schooling have gotten away from the fundamentals especially in the communications area. Some of the policies left them to an extent wherein you couldn’t reward the student according to their merit. That’s a sad thing because I think the fundamentals should still be in there with the school, with the discipline.
And one last thing, it’s very sad to see that there are literally billions of people living in poverty in numerous countries, especially the third world. It’s a real shame, it always makes me think, what is it that we need to do so we can help this side of society.
Do you have any plans in the near future?
I’ll be in California and will be involved with UCLA. I just completed a project in France with the EU and I’m looking forward to this because they just told me that there are other universities and schools that wanted me to speak and I’m awaiting that information. And some Asian countries and Australia are in the works too.