Member Spotlight | Fernando González Aleu (Universidad de Monterrey)

In this newsletter, we highlight the winner of the SEMS Best Paper Competition in the Engineering Management track at this year's IISE Annual Conference & Expo. Fernando González Aleu won the prestigious award. He works an Associate Professor at the Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) (University of Monterrey). His winning paper, Determinants of Goal Achievement for Continuous Improvement Projects in Hospitals was influenced by his last manuscript in his PhD dissertation. The topics area was inspired by the problems that hospitals were having with patient safety. He proposed that patient safety could be improved using continuous improvement activities, such as Kaizen event, Lean Six Sigma, or quality improvement projects. 

Fernando first got introduced to Industrial Engineering when he studied Mechanical and Management Engineering at Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico for his Bachelor's degree about 24 years ago. Six years later, he completed a Master's degree specialising in manufacturing systems at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). About two years ago, he completed another Master's degree in Engineering Management at Virginia Tech University (VT) in the United States; followed by a PhD in 2016 from the same university. He was pursuing his Master's and PhD degree while working as an Associate Professor in the Industrial Engineering department at UDEM. 

He has focused on researching on Continuous Improvement projects in health care environments like hospitals; as well as, focusing on research on operations excellence models such as the Malcolm Bridge National Quality Award and Shingo Model. This interest was sparked by a desire to improve processes using statistical tools. 

The writing process was an exercise in international collaboration and virtual communications. Using Webex, he met with his dissertation committee to discuss his research. At the last meeting, the committee asked him to include a last manuscript (the winning paper). His advisor, Dr. Eileen Van Aken (Virginia Tech),  and the two members of his dissertation committee (Dr. Jennifer Cross -Texas Tech University and Dr. Wiljeana Glover - Babson College), thought that it would be a good idea. They were right! 

Q: What does the prize/award mean for Fernando?
A:  The prize/award meant a lot to Fernando. His PhD research began on January 2015 and finished on June 2016. During this time, he had to combine several roles, such as Associate Professor at UDEM, Ph.D. candidate at VT, as well as, being a husband and a father of three teens. One of his favorite phrases is from the movie Lilo and Stitch: "Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind".  Without the support of his family (wife and children) the PhD. degree and this publication would not be possible for him. He appreciated the time and effort from his team (advisor, dissertation committee and family), which paid off in the end. Winning this award has inspired him to find new projects to generate new knowledge.
Q: What does Fernando plan to do further in the area?
A: He is working on three journal papers from his PhD dissertation: An empirical investigation of critical success factors for continuous improvement projects in hospitals. Additionally, he has been working with undergraduate students in two themes. Firstly, he works to improve their skills to conduct continuous improvement projects and documented in conference proceedings as case studies. Recently, a team of three undergraduate students, who he advised, won the IEOM 2017 Best Student Paper Competition. Secondly, he teaches them how to conduct systematic literature reviews (SLR). A SLR is a critical activity that demands a lot of time from the researcher. Therefore, he has been teaching a SLR methodology.  The best work of his students will be submitted for the 2018 IISE Annual Conference in the engineering track. 
Q: What advice can Fernando give future applicants?
A: He recommends before submitting your conference proceedings, always ask to an outside reader for feedback; especially, if English is your second language.
Q. What is your involvement in the SEMS and IISE? And how long have you been involved with SEMS and IISE?
A: He has been a member of IISE for nine years, and of SEMS for six years. He has volunteered for SEMS Student Committee in 2012 and a reviewer for the EM track at the IISE Annual Conference in 2013. He intends to volunteer a reviewer and track chair for the 2018 IISE Annual Conference.