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Cullen College’s Chair of Industrial Engineering Is Quite a Fellow

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Laurie Fickman
Gino Lim is named a new IISE Fellow
Gino Lim is named a new IISE Fellow

If you’ve ever evacuated your home in the Houston area because of a threatening flood or hurricane, you’ve felt the impact of Gino Lim’s work. If you or someone you know has ever been treated with radiation for cancer therapy, you’ve also felt the impact of Gino Lim’s work. Among many career highlights, Professor Lim, chair of the Cullen College department of industrial engineering and Hari and Anjali Agrawal Faculty Fellow, has developed efficient evacuation routes with Harris County and Houston Transtar and developed mathematical algorithms used to determine how much radiation will heal rather than hurt you.

That’s just how the world-renowned industrial engineer rolls, improving different areas of life with his skill at engineering industrial solutions.

In an office full of awards, Lim says he is thrilled to receive his latest, the distinction of becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE), an honor that usually goes to older engineers capping a lifetime of achievement.

“I’m pretty young to be awarded and it’s nice to hear that people appreciate what I’ve done,” said Lim. “Plus this is not something I initiated. People from outside, not even from UH, initiated this on my behalf.”

At most, 20 engineers become IISE Fellows annually. This year Lim is among only a dozen. The stringent criteria takes full account of a candidate’s success in management, technical innovation, practice innovation and leadership in promoting industrial engineering.

Exceeding qualifications. And then some.

By every measure, Lim exceeded the qualifications.

In the area of management, Lim has increased enrollment in industrial engineering (IE) with unprecedented results. During his tenure at the Cullen College as chair since 2011, the IE department has experienced a 300 percent increase in master’s students, a 31 percent increase in bachelor’s students and a 66 percent increase in doctoral students graduated per faculty each year. He, himself, has graduated 16 Ph.D. candidates in the last 13 years – well above the average number among his academic peers. He has also taken management and leadership roles on the Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Council, serving as program chair for several annual conferences including IISEs Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference (ISERC) and INFORMS, the world’s largest professional association dedicated to best practices and advances in operations research, management science and analytics.

Considered a leading researcher in proton-based radiation treatment planning in the IE community worldwide, Lim has excelled in the field of technical innovation such as his pioneering work on Gamma Knife radiotherapy optimization for brain cancer patients. For developing the mathematical algorithm determining the optimal amount of radiation needed at cancer sites, he won the 2002 Pierskalla Best Paper Award from INFORMS.

Lim’s work in developing innovative practice methods for scheduling nurses in operating suites was tested and adopted at MD Anderson Cancer Center and published in IIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering.

A happy accident

Lim’s accomplishments seem unbelievable, especially because he said he got into industrial engineering “by accident.” Actually, it was less accident and more a good career counselor in Korea.

“Initially I was looking at chemical engineering, but I was also interested in management and using people skills,” said Lim. “The career counselor said to consider industrial engineering if I wanted to work with people, and I did. Working with people makes me happy.”

It obviously delights others, too. His peers’ recommendations from across the United States surely weighed heavily on IISE’s decision to name him a Fellow.

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