For the past 22 consecutive years, the United Parcel Service (UPS) Foundation has supported graduate education at Virginia Tech, awarding 28 fellowships now totaling over $1 million.

In their most recent award, UPS provided a $40,000 grant to the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering for the UPS Doctoral Fellowship in Human Factors and Safety.

“From the outset, the technical emphasis of the UPS Doctoral Fellowship has been in human factors engineering and safety,” said John Casali, the John Grado Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, who successfully proposed the first UPS fellowships in 1996 and has served as program coordinator since. “The UPS Fellows have primarily gone into careers in workplace health and safety and/or ergonomics, demonstrating the UPS commitment to safety and well-being of its workforce and the customers it serves.”

From this fellowship, a stipend and tuition are provided for at least one doctoral student per year in the human factors and safety concentration of industrial and systems engineering. The recipient is encouraged to write their dissertation on forward-looking, cutting-edge topics.

This year the call for proposals emphasized the following technical areas: reducing accidents wherein auditory or visual warning systems failed; reduction of physical injuries that result from stress-strain imposed by physical activities in performing manual work exemplified by package delivery and sorting/loading operations; and reduction of vehicular-pedestrian accidents that result from inattention, lack of situation awareness, and/or vehicle display/control design inadequacies.

Current recipients of the UPS Doctoral Fellowship Jung-Ho Park and Saman Madinei, both of the industrial and systems engineering department, are involved with research on industrial exoskeletons. Park's research focuses on the posture and balance demands of users that are assisted with an exoskeleton, while Madinei's research focuses on the stability of the user's spine.

“The UPS Foundation is honored to support the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering’s efforts in graduate education,” said Eduardo Martinez, president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at the UPS Foundation. “Our goal is to fund powerful programs that make a lasting difference to the global community.”

Don Wittke, director of industrial engineering at UPS, assisted with the grant from 2012 to 2017. He was previously a member of the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Department’s Advisory Board and is a member of their Academy of Distinguished Alumni. Tandreia Bellamy, regional industrial engineering manager at UPS and current member of the department’s advisory board, championed the grant proposal in 2018.

Established in 1951 and based and based in Atlanta, Georgia, the UPS Foundation identifies specific areas where its backing clearly impacts social issues. In support of this strategic approach, the UPS Foundation identified the following focus areas for giving:  volunteerism, diversity, community safety, and the environment.

Written by Linda Hazelwood