Reaching out to all students

Lehigh’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) department is launching the Lehigh ISE Outreach Program (OutreachISE for short), which aims to improve general awareness of ISE and promote ISE research. We want to expose students and the general public to systems engineering concepts and methodologies and help them develop effective tools for decision making in a variety of industry and society settings. Led by ISE Professor of Practice Ana Alexandrescu, OutreachISE consists of two initiatives: raising awareness about the field and providing opportunities for undergraduate students to do research in ISE.

Throughout the OutreachISE Awareness Initiative, we are engaging our students and faculty to create memorable experiences and share academic and professional opportunities in industrial and systems engineering with groups of high-school and college students, as well as to other young professionals looking to enter graduate education. This fall, we are kickstarting a number of initiatives to increase awareness of opportunities in ISE, from webinars about programs of study, to a podcast featuring ISE students, researchers and industry professionals, to experiential learning opportunities in collaboration with local high-schools. We are also planning to expand our collaboration with our university’s programs and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in our student body, such as CHOICES, which gives middle-school girls an opportunity to learn about engineering. Finally, we have also started a number of experiential learning opportunities for our undergraduate students to practice operations management and develop awareness of professional opportunities in ISE.

The second part of our exciting new program revolves around the OutreachISE Research Initiative, which aims to engage undergraduate students in research with ISE faculty and learn about the research process and opportunities in our field. This initiative is ground-breaking in that it involves students across a variety of disciplines working in research teams in different areas. Six different academic disciplines are represented among the 14 students that started this semester, and their projects, led by six different ISE Faculty Leads, span three tracks: Applied ISE, Mathematics & Statistics in ISE, and Software & Computing in ISE. In parallel with their projects and getting hands-on experience with ISE research, we are holding a series of seminars that are engaging the students in learning about and considering an academic and/or research path in our field, and we are tackling topics from the very practical (how do you find and read ISE papers?) to the more abstract (how do you decide if you want to pursue grad school / research in ISE-related areas?).

The faculty and student response to both OutreachISE initiatives has been very enthusiastic and we are off to a very good start! Over the next three years, we expect both initiatives to grow and align themselves with goals and funding priorities set by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the two flagship programs, Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC), respectively. On the research front, we aim to open up these projects to undergraduate students outside Lehigh, while in the awareness area our goal is to continue to grow our visibility and connect with more students and young professionals, empowering them to make better decisions using the power of ISE tools. “This is a great time to be in Lehigh’s ISE department, both as a student and as a faculty. There are so many exciting interdisciplinary learning and research opportunities,” says Professor Ana Alexandrescu, who leads the OutreachISE Program. “The energy is fantastic!” Ana adds.

For more information and to express interest in what we are doing in terms of outreach, please contact our OutreachISE Coordinator, Lori D’Nicuola, or send us an email at