UT’s Sawhney Receives Top Honor from Industrial Engineering Group

SawhneyRupy Sawhney, a mainstay in UT’s College of Engineering, was recently awarded one of the highest honors a professor in his field can receive, the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society Outstanding Educator Award.

Given annually by the society for “exceptional contributions” to that focus, the award recognized Sawhney for the years of dedication and innovation he has brought to the discipline.

Yet, despite those years of service, the award came as a surprise to Sawhney, former head of and current professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

“It came as a shock to me,” said Sawhney, the Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering. “I found out via e-mail and was really surprised. I had no idea, none, that I was even nominated.”

Sawhney’s work has resulted in the growth of what is known as lean manufacturing or lean engineering at UT.

Slowly but surely, the department introduced classes at the undergraduate level, then graduate, then began reliability courses as well, building the program from scratch to become a globally recognized entity.

“You can see that recognition with our Lean Enterprise Summer Institute, where we have students come from every inhabited continent but Australia,” said Sawhney. “In turn, we’re now coming together with programs in China, in France, in other overseas places and working with one another to craft the best possible program for our students.

“As nice as the personal honor is, our program is rated highly and has gained recognition of its own, and that’s just another sign that we’re doing things the right way.”

Making the honor even more meaningful for Sawhney is that the honor comes from his peers.

While the program has become more visible, Sawhney said that recognition like this makes their ultimate goal of being number one seem more tangible.

“Getting an award like this is validation,” said Sawhney. “Validation for what we do—that we’re doing it the right way. It’s a sign that we’re on the right path.”

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)