An extraordinarily productive researcher and prolific scholar, held in high esteem by colleagues and students alike, Young-Jun Son is a powerhouse in the field of systems and industrial engineering. He was recently appointed head of the UA systems and industrial engineering department, and has just been elected a fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, or IIE. Fellow is the highest classification of IIE membership.
He earned his BS in industrial engineering at South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology, or POSTECH, and his MS and PhD in industrial and manufacturing engineering from Penn State before joining the College of Engineering department of systems and industrial engineering in 2000.
Son directs diverse research projects involving several UA colleges, as well as government agencies and private industry. Topics include manufacturing systems, crowd control, driving behavior, energy network distribution, agricultural grafting operations, and coordination of unmanned military vehicles. Different though they are, these projects seek to better understand systems and employ the latest technologies to improve the systems’ performance and people’s lives -- which, Son points out, is the underlying theme of systems and industrial engineering.
His research projects have received funding from the National Science Foundation, the transportation, energy and agriculture departments, U.S. Air Force, Raytheon, Boeing, and Sandia, among others. He is proud of their highly collaborative nature. “SIE research often involves people from many domains of engineering, math and science, computer technology, and other disciplines such as healthcare and energy,” he said. “Researchers must be willing to learn new things from each other and keep up with the rapid changes in technology and society.”
Son is the author of more than 150 scientific research papers and holds editorial posts at dozens of research journals, including editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Service Operations and Informatics. His other honors have included being selected as a da Vinci Fellow and Arizona Engineering Faculty Fellow.
He is a dedicated teacher of several courses, including Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems and Simulation Modeling and Analysis, and he enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in his research lab. “I have been fortunate to have so many highly dedicated students in my research group, and my accomplishments would not have been possible without them,” he said. Last year the UA Graduate and Professional Student Council chose him to receive the Outstanding Mentor of Graduate/Professional Students Award.
As a professor and department head, researcher and scholar, author, editor and, now, IIE fellow, Son still finds time to be with his wife and two children, play racquetball, and watch the professional Korean baseball teams that come to Tucson for spring training.
Understanding the system behind his crowded schedule would require a research project of its own.