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INFORMS STUDENT CHAPTER Seminar



Time: 10:00am-11:00am October 26


Zoom information: https://virginiatech.zoom.us/my/isemain

Speaker: Taylan Topcu, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech


Abstract:Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) organizations, both in the government and the industry, are facing two daunting challenges. First, the acute failures in developing complex engineered artifacts, which are often manifested in cost and schedule overruns. The second is the lack of diversity in STEM fields. While the open innovation (OI) literature hints at its potential to alleviate both of these issues, research on leveraging OI as a sociotechnical mechanism that could serve both as an effective system architecting tool and as a more inclusive policy instrument for innovation, have been nascent.


This talk outlines an opportunity to re-think system design processes with an awareness of who will solve and how the solvers will engage in the design process. I will demonstrate that joint consideration of problem formulation, organizational knowledge, and outside expertise could significantly improve design process outcomes; and discuss strategies for incorporating solver-awareness into the architecting process. Then, I will present some future research directions that can be explored with mixed-methods research techniques. These will range from evidence from a unique NASA field experiment, to reinforcement learning techniques for theory extraction, and the ability of OI to serve the diversity policy objectives of STEM organizations.

Bio:Taylan Topcu is an Assistant Professor of Systems Engineering & Analysis at Virginia Tech, in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. My research integrates data-science, microeconomics, and systems engineering to study measurement issues in the context of complex engineered systems design. I am interested in two overarching themes: decomposition/architecture theory and management of safety-critical systems. I specialize in conducting mixed-methods research with a strong empirical grounding, often leveraging government & industry partners such as NASA, INFRABEL (the Belgian National Railroad Company) and MITRE for the research setting and refinement of my theoretical insights. At Virginia Tech, I also serve as the Coordinator of the Mission Engineering Certificate Program and teach Decision Analysis for Engineers.


Prior to joining the faculty at Virginia Tech, I was a Postdoctoral Scientist at the George Washington University in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, working with Prof. Zoe Szajnfarber. I received my doctoral degree at Virginia Tech in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (2020), where I served as a graduate assistant for the System Performance Lab supervised by Prof. Kostas Triantis. Prior to that, I earned my M.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (2015), worked at ROKETSAN Missile Industries as a systems engineer on the HISAR Program, and earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Middle East Technical University (METU, 2009). I am a member of the INCOSE, ASME, INFORMS, and the Design Society.

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