Stephan Biller, Seong-Hee Kim Receive Distinguished Alumni Awards

Stephan Biller (left) with William WhiteStephan Biller (left) with William White
Seong-Hee Kim (left) with Barry NelsonSeong-Hee Kim (left) with Barry Nelson

Northwestern Industrial Engineering honored alumni Stephan Biller (PhD ’96) and Seong-Hee Kim (MS ’98, PhD ’01) with its 2021 IEMS Distinguished Alumni Award during an October 14 ceremony in Cohen Commons.

Biller, CEO and co-founder of Advanced Manufacturing International (AMI), is a leader in implementing and commercializing innovation to design and optimize engineering, manufacturing, supply chains, and services using analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT). He previously served as vice president for product management for AI applications at IBM Watson IoT, where he led IBM’s Industry 4.0 solution products, including IBM Maximo, TRIRIGA, asset optimization, and operations optimization using Big Data, AI, and analytics to drive operational excellence from factories and supply chains to the operations of oil fields and power plants.

Prior to joining IBM, Biller served as chief manufacturing scientist and manufacturing technology leader for General Electric (GE), where he created GE’s Brilliant Factory initiative as well as its Additive Manufacturing software strategy. He also spent more than 10 years at General Motors (GM) in a variety of management positions, most recently technical fellow and group manager for sustainable manufacturing systems.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Biller is a five-time recipient of GM’s “Boss” Kettering Award and a four-time recipient of the Charles L. McCuen Award, the carmaker’s most prestigious awards for technical innovation and research, respectively. He holds 11 patents.

Biller was introduced at the ceremony by William White, professor of industrial engineering and management sciences, who described Biller as a “poster child for IEMS” with accomplishments across a variety of fields.

Kim, professor of industrial and systems engineering at Georgia Tech, is an expert in ranking and selection procedures for stochastic simulation, optimization via simulation, statistical output analysis, quality control, and applications of simulation methods to environmental management.

Her most notable work is the development of the Kim-Nelson algorithm for stochastic optimization, created in collaboration with PhD adviser Barry Nelson, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at the McCormick School of Engineering. The algorithm, which is designed to find optimal choices among groups of simulated systems, has greatly impacted research in the field and is used by industrial engineering students, researchers, and practitioners.

Kim’s honors include the INFORMS Simulation Society Outstanding Simulation Publication Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Harold W. Kuhn Award, and the Class of 1934 Course Survey Teaching Effectiveness Award.

Nelson, who introduced Kim during the ceremony, described meeting with her in 1998 in his office, where she offered to work in his research group for free. “It turned out to be one of the best offers I’ve ever received,” Nelson said.

McCormick News Article