Engineering News

Barry Nelson Receives IISE Teaching Award

Award honors excellence in teaching modeling and simulation courses

Northwestern Engineering’s Barry Nelson has received the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) Modeling and Simulation Division Teaching Award. The honor is given annually to a faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching modeling and simulation courses at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Nelson is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences and codirector of the Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program at the McCormick School of Engineering. He will formally accept the award during the IISE Annual Conference and Expo May 18-21 in Orlando, Florida.

Barry Nelson

Award nominees are evaluated based on exhibited leadership, course design, applied learning, innovation, and student satisfaction within a simulation-based course. Nelson was recognized for leading IEMS 317: Discrete-event System Simulation, a course which tasks students to develop complex simulation models that can run experiments and produce data for analysis. Nelson has taught IEMS 317 or a similar course nearly every year since 1984 and has worked with new assistant professors from around the world to help launch their own versions of it.

“Simulation is a methodology that is always evolving, especially the software, so it never gets old,” Nelson said. “The great thing about teaching IEMS 317 is that students see that simulation is useful almost immediately. The challenge is that you need to teach modeling, programming, probability, statistics, experiment design, and communication all at the same time.”

Nelson’s research interests are design and analysis of computer simulation experiments, including a focus in statistical efficiency, multivariate output analysis, and model risk. His work can be applied to many areas of financial engineering, computer performance modeling, quality control, manufacturing, and transportation systems.

A fellow of INFORMS and IISE, Nelson’s honors include twice being named the McCormick School of Engineering Teacher of the Year (1988, 2007). He’s also received the IIE Operations Research Division Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Operations Research, the Northwestern Alumni Association’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and was named to Northwestern’s Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll three times (2002, 2003, 2007). He served as chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences from 2008-2013.