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Embracing the Future: Ricardo Valerdi Leads SIE into the Next 60 Years of Innovation

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Embracing the Future: Ricardo Valerdi Leads SIE into the Next 60 Years of Innovation

July 17, 2023
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As the department celebrates 60 years since the founding of systems engineering, Valerdi’s vision expands beyond becoming a top-ranked program to meeting the needs of a changing world.

Ricardo Valerdi was selected as head of the Department of Systems and Industrial Engineering after a national search that yielded a highly competitive pool of candidates after serving as interim head for the 2022-2023 academic year.

“When I joined SIE 12 years ago, it looked very different,” said Valerdi. “Today we have a new generation of talented and ambitious faculty who are impacting our society’s Grand Challenges in manufacturing, transportation, aerospace and defense, health care, energy, and critical materials. We have the right people working in the right areas, which will provide opportunities for our students.”

Valerdi came to the College of Engineering in 2011 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2020, he was recognized by the University of Arizona as a Distinguished Outreach Professor. He has also served as an ombudsman and is the UA’s faculty athletics representative to the PAC-12 and NCAA.

Outreach is a key aspect of Valerdi’s philosophy on the future of engineering. He is the founder and chief scientist of the Science of Sport, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing STEM topics to children through athletics with the help of professional sports teams.

Valerdi’s research mainly focuses on cost estimation, test and evaluation, cybersecurity and sports analytics. His contributions to the field are vast, one of the most significant being COSYSMO, a model for estimating systems engineering efforts. Funders of his research include the National Science Foundation, the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A Bright Future

Amongst Valerdi’s top priorities is the expansion of software engineering, the newest addition of the department’s four degree programs. The fall 2023 semester will be the first time the department offers a Master of Science in software engineering.

“SIE is a department that plays to win. It is home to our best faculty, our best staff, and our best students. My predecessors left this department in an extremely strong position, which will allow us to take SIE to new heights,” he said.

Department leadership is also excited to revive a focus in supply chain management with Valerdi’s hire of Yue Wang, who recently completed her Ph.D. at Texas A&M University.

The college is confident that with Valerdi as department head, UA Systems and Industrial Engineering, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of its establishment this year, will become a top 20 program nationally.

“I am delighted to welcome Ricardo to the college leadership team. He brings a wealth of experience and passion for engineering,” said David Hahn, the Craig M. Berge Dean of the College of Engineering. “I look forward to continued strong progress in SIE under Ricardo’s tenure, they are a big part of our growth strategy.”