Industrial Engineering Expert Recognized for Contributions to Field
Passionate about her discipline and committed to engineering education, Elif Kongar, Ph.D., was recently recognized by Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Society International for her achievements and service. Grateful for those have inspired her own career, she’s now dedicated to serving as a mentor to her own students.
April 25, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM) Society International selected Dr. Kongar for an IEOM Data Analytics Award in recognition of her “outstanding” achievements and contributions to the field of industrial engineering and operations management. Dr. Kongar, whose research focuses on economically and environmentally sustainable waste recovery systems and operations, was recently recognized at the African International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management.
“This is one of the most critically acclaimed global organizations that bridges industry with academic institutions,” said Dr. Kongar. “It is a great platform for the generation of new innovative ideas and applications. Receiving an award from this institution is very rewarding, since as an industrial engineer with bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the field, I am dedicated to the discipline and its interdisciplinary, data-intense applications.”
‘Combine creativity and analytical thinking’
Dr. Kongar’s research also explores reverse-supply chain management and reverse logistics systems, and she was featured in a Washington Times article earlier this spring about ongoing supply chain challenges. A professor in the Pompea College of Business’ Economics and Business Analytics Department, she is particularly dedicated to creating environmental and social sustainability models for a circular economy. She’s exploring how to best use electronic waste data to predict the fastest-growing waste stream on a broad scale.
Recently, Dr. Kongar has collaborated to analyze the failure factors of business intelligence implementation in organizations. Focusing on analyzing systems holistically, her research also endeavors to provide industries and academics with information that could help enhance their organizational efforts and their effectiveness.
“Since the beginning of my career, I have been utilizing various data- and model-driven tools and techniques in my economically and environmentally sustainable waste-recovery systems and operations research,” she said. “Most of my studies combine quantitative and qualitative data and involve models and algorithms to derive meaningful information for better predictions and decision making. In this regard, the award comes as an acknowledgement of these efforts.”
In addition to her role as an industry leader and expert, Dr. Kongar is a dedicated educator. Passionate about engineering education, she studies female participation in engineering. As part of the virtual conference awards ceremony, Dr. Kongar gave a presentation about technology’s use in education and how educators can leverage new technological advancements to enhance post-secondary education. She credits her “extraordinary” mentors and role models – including her parents and teachers – with helping to inspire her to pursue an academic career.
“I have great admiration for creative arts, and I was drawn to industrial engineering because it is a discipline that allowed me to combine creativity and analytical thinking in my work,” she explains. “Industrial engineering is a perfect bridge between theoretical and applied business and engineering, and it requires industrial and analytical skills to grow concurrently.”
‘There is nothing more rewarding’
Committed to inspiring the next leaders in the field, Dr. Kongar has been working closely with students since joining the University last year. Together, they have explored environmental, economic, and social definitions of sustainability in new and emerging technologies. While she enjoys teaching, she also appreciates the opportunities she has to learn from her fellow Chargers.
“I love classroom teaching,” she said. “I also learn from my students and try to craft my lectures so that they are going to be more valuable for their future careers. I welcome the opportunity to work with students and faculty from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds.”
In addition to mentoring and guiding Chargers, Dr. Kongar also connects with students at other institutions at all levels of their educational journeys, including advising students as an external doctoral dissertation adviser, as well as talking with high school students. She recently mentored a high school student who was interested in examining the fast-fashion industry and its impact on the environment. The work was recently presented at a conference.
Dr. Kongar endeavors to continue her research at the University, and she hopes to further develop sustainable long-term frameworks for emerging paradigms. She hopes to inspire her students to be lifelong learners who are versatile and prepared for an ever-changing field – and world.
“There is nothing more rewarding than inspiring future academicians and business professionals,” she said. “I feel very fortunate for this opportunity. The current reality of higher education is that we are training students now for jobs titles that do not yet exist. Thus, the education and training we provide our students should be inclusive, interdisciplinary, hands-on, and experiential.”