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Resilience Engineering

Nezih Altay

I am a Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management in the Driehaus College of Business of DePaul University in Chicago. I received my PhD in Operations Management from Mays School of Business at Texas A&M University in 2001. At DePaul, I serve as the Faculty Director of the M.S. in Supply Chain Management Program. Outside of DePaul, I serve as the current President of the Humanitarian Operations and Crisis Management (HOCM) group within the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS), Co-Editor of the Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and as Technical Advisor to Field Ready, an NGO that aims to bring innovative distributed manufacturing solutions to the humanitarian sector.

Until 1999 my plan was to study operational problems in manufacturing. In August 1999, my family and I experienced a 7.2 Richter scale earthquake in Istanbul that took 17,000 lives. That event changed my life and as soon as I completed my doctoral studies, I started studying disaster management. I worked on projects that touched all stages of disaster management; mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Later I expanded the scope of my research to include development-aid supply chains, and logistical problems in serving communities at the Base of the Pyramid. In short, since 1999 my focus has been the application of operations research/management science techniques to alleviating human suffering.

My involvement with the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering is a natural extension of my research in disaster management. Helping people in need when surrounding infrastructure is incapacitated and resources are scarce requires tremendous effort and coordination. Effective sharing and dissemination of information sits in the center of this challenge. My goal as a Resilience Fellow is to investigate efficient and effective ways to information sharing and coordination in order to improve the resilience of supply chains and associated communities.

In my opinion, resilience makes the foundation of disaster management where all four phases (mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) are directly affected by the ability of communities, processes and supply chains to withstand the impact of negative pulses and recover as fast as possible. Improving resilience would allow effective management of disasters and their impact on society, businesses and regional/national economies. As natural and man-made catastrophic events continue pounding vulnerable populations, the collective knowledge and experiences created by the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering have the potential to alleviate human suffering around the world.