fbpx Message from the Chair: Okenwa Okoli, Ph.D. | FAMU FSU College of Engineering Skip to main content

Message from the Chair: Okenwa Okoli, Ph.D.

In a time when our current and future behaviors will be gilded by how best we handle a pandemic, we are grateful and proud of the accomplishments our dedicated team. These outstanding staff, teaching and research-intensive tenure-track faculty share a common goal of student success and readying them for the labor force. Indeed, a number of our faculty have given their time in service and research to proffering solutions for our community and healthcare workers.

Dr. Okoli

Okenwa Okoli, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering

Established in 1986, our industrial and manufacturing engineering (IME) department is the youngest of five in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. The college of Engineering was established in 1982 as the only partnership between a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and a Research I predominantly white institution (PWI). With obvious advantages, we have successfully educated students in the nurturing environment of one of the nation’s most prominent HBCUs (FAMU), with the infrastructure and focus of a Research I university (FSU), recognized as one of Florida’s two preeminent research universities.

The IME department is structured to engage industry in practical research endeavors. We lean strongly on using core industrial engineering principles to address manufacturing issues. We created a strong and unique presence in the research and manufacture of advanced engineered materials, while at the same time continuing to focus on the optimization and modeling of processes and systems. Many of our faculty are leaders in the High-Performance Materials Institute (HPMI), which provides our graduates a strong advantage with their unique training founded on the interdisciplinary nature of our program; a program which gives greater opportunity for diverse learning and research.

The IME department seeks to provide a globally competitive environment for our students, enabling world-class learning through our curricular and extracurricular activities. Our BSIE curriculum is entwined with experiential learning such that all our students—from their first year through their tenure—are encouraged to engage in funded research opportunities and projects. These opportunities are year-round, with particular

emphasis on our REU programs funded through the NSF and AFRL. IME manufacturing research is based out of the 45,000 sq. ft. Materials Research Building, which houses more than $20M state-of-the-art equipment for the characterization and manufacture of advanced materials, structural composites and additive manufacturing. Many undergraduate and graduate students have access to HPMI equipment.

Our graduate programs were created with an industry focus, while concentrating on cutting-edge novel technologies. Our MSIE offerings include a

non-thesis concentration in Engineering Management and a Data Analytics track. We have recently launched a fast growing MS Systems Engineering program which integrates engineering disciplines with industrial and management practices. Students develop skills required in the national workforce for growing areas in the technology-driven global economy. Our SE faculty have broad experience in defense and industrial settings, making the program applicable to military and civilian engineering professionals. Our doctoral program continues to grow, producing significant numbers of graduates annually at Florida A&M and Florida State universities.

As we grapple with the effects of COVID-19, we are constantly reminded of the racial injustice perpetuated against People of Color. We all must have seen the several videos showing the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing, videos of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased, shot and killed while jogging. We have also heard of Breonna Taylor, an EMT worker who was shot and killed in her Louisville, Kentucky home by police while sleeping. As FSU President Thrasher said, “It is everyone’s responsibility to stand up against abuse of power…”. In our College of Engineering community, there are many People of Color particularly African American students who may face racial injustice on a day-to-day basis. To address these issues at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Dean Murray Gibson has started the #LetsStartHere initiative as an extensive and inclusive process to honestly identify any barriers—whether based on race, gender or other individual differences—that exist in the college, and to work on eliminating them. He acknowledges that the process will be challenging, uncomfortable and possibly painful at times as we work through difficult and divisive issues. The Let’s Start Here initiative at the college is a serious attempt to improve the environment at the college for all—students, faculty and staff.

Okenwa Okoli, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor
Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering