Dr. Erin Gerber Honored with IISE Global Faculty Advisor Award

June 14, 2021

Dr. Erin Gerber

Dr. Erin Gerber

Within just one month of beginning her full-time faculty role as an assistant professor in Industrial Engineering at Speed School in 2015, Dr. Erin Gerber took on the additional role of faculty advisor. Now Director of Undergraduate Studies for the IE department, and the Director of Academic Affairs for the Speed School, the professor was able to rejuvenate a stagnant Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering (IISE) student chapter and bring it to Gold Status within four years. She was been recognized for her dedication to her department and her students with the Global Outstanding Faculty Advisor (and the Great Lakes Advisor) regional award(s) from IISE.

The global award is created to recognize the dedicated efforts of one student chapter advisor who, through his or her work has exemplified above all others IISE’s commitment to education, personal, professional, and technical development of students in IISE related fields of interest.

Gerber said she remembered fondly her own time as a Speed School student attending IISE conferences and involvement as an officer in student organizations.

“The opportunity to serve in that kind of role was really attractive for me –I felt it was something I could give back,” she said.

Dr. Pratik Parikh, Chairperson and Professor, Industrial Engineering, said Gerber has been exceptional in building strong and committed leadership, raising funds, encouraging student participation at regional and national conferences, enriching chapter activities, and devising continuous improvement efforts.

Under her guidance, the IISE student chapter officers were encouraged to initiate new offerings such as the popular Final Exam Study sessions. She bolstered fundraising by bringing Six Sigma and Lean trainings to campus and used the money raised to fully support chapter officers attending regional conferences, providing valuable networking opportunities for students. Gerber also initiated other important changes to support IE students, including conducting IE student panels where juniors and seniors shared their insights with freshmen, active participation in high school outreach activities, and instituted a ‘Meet the Faculty’ departmental faculty panel. Her efforts also included organizing opportunities for senior IE members to present the results of their Capstone projects to professional members in industry and network with IE professionals in the Louisville area.

“At the regional conferences, I could see the students really starting to grow and see this as a lifelong investment,” said Gerber. “They are developing their skills and network, and seeing industrial engineering in the real world, not just the classroom,” she said. “Watching them grow in that way is really rewarding.”

Alex Bruns, recent past president of Speed School’s IISE student chapter, said the industry events organized by Gerber are key to networking and identifying the best internships, co-ops and job offers.

“It’s important to make those connections in the industry and get your foot in the door.” Bruns said Gerber is one of the most capable professors – and people he has ever met. “She has a balanced approach to support by setting the example and leaving you to do your own thing without getting super-involved, so you get leadership experience without interference, but she is always there for advice and guidance,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is more deserving of this award.”

Parikh said Gerber “has not only been instrumental in reviving the almost moribund UofL student chapter and helping it achieve a Gold status, but also provided the necessary impetus to chapter officers towards maintaining such high standards. Such selfless effort should be rewarded.”

Gerber said she was grateful to have received the regional award, let alone the global award distinction from IISE.

“When you go to the faculty advisor breakfast, there are very impressive people there doing so much for their students, so just to be recognized in that light is an honor,” she said. “You just don’t realize until you add it together all the things you’ve really accomplished. “I look forward to coming up with more initiatives and accomplishing even more moving forward.”