Gift from alumnus creates interdisciplinary endowed lecture series
January 27, 2021
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that a lecture series was created.
Triple Hokie alumnus Douglas C. Montgomery has committed to provide the Department of Statistics in the College of Science and the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering with a $150,000 gift to establish a new interdisciplinary lecture series on current topics in industrial statistics and statistical engineering.
Montgomery credits both departments with enabling him to have a productive and successful career. “Even in the 1960s when I was a student, industrial engineers were leaders in the engineering profession in promoting productivity, quality, and business efficiency, and were major users of statistical science within engineering,” said Montgomery.
The lecture series will include researchers and industry experts from statistics, industrial and systems engineering, and related fields. Speakers selected for the lecture series will be internationally renowned and will be of broad interest across Virginia Tech, and will especially be of interest to the faculty and students from both departments.
“I hope that the two departments will bring in well-recognized scholars and other authorities who have a track record of ‘working across the aisle’ — to quote a common contemporary phrase — between industrial engineering, other engineering disciplines, and statistics, showing the synergy between the disciplines,” said Montgomery. “I hope this will encourage others, students and faculty, alike, to make more efforts in this direction.”
Montgomery is a renowned expert in statistical quality engineering. He currently holds the Regents’ Professorship of Industrial Engineering in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, one of Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He has received nearly $4 million in sponsored research projects from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and NASA. He has authored 16 books, over 270 journal papers, and more than 180 technical papers, and has been a consultant to more than 100 companies.
Dave Higdon, department head for the Department of Statistics at Virginia Tech, said he is grateful for Montgomery’s generosity and leadership. “Since graduating from Virginia Tech, Doug Montgomery has had a hall of fame career, working at the interface of statistics and industrial engineering — he's a world-renowned leader in research, education, and application. His generous gift gives our two departments an opportunity to spur new ideas, interest, and activity at this interface,” said Higdon.
Industrial and systems engineering department head Eileen Van Aken is grateful to Montgomery for investing in and encouraging the collaboration between the two departments.
“Doug’s generous gift will support the exchange of ideas at the interface of statistics, industry, and engineering,” Van Aken said. “Virginia Tech had such a positive impact on Doug’s life and career and he is now generously honoring that by making this special gift. We thank him for continuing that special legacy with his investment in our future.”
Montgomery is a three-time Hokie, earning his bachelor’s and master’s in industrial engineering in 1965 and 1967, and he was the first recipient of the department’s doctoral degree in 1969.
“I feel that it is important to do something that can encourage even greater interaction between the two departments,” said Montgomery. “I believe that this gift seems to be an appropriate and logical way to try and help accomplish that.”
The Douglas C. Montgomery Distinguished Lecture Series will launch this fall to kick off the 2021-22 academic year.
Written by Linda Hazelwood