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Jack Muckstadt named a Weiss presidential fellow


John A. "Jack" Muckstadt, a Cornell professor of engineering who nurtures students by bringing the reality of manufacturing logistics and supply chain systems to the classroom, was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow this weekend by the Cornell Board of Trustees.

He received this award for excellence in teaching, advising undergraduate students, exemplary efforts to improve instruction on campus and for striving to improve daily life.

"Engineering exists to improve the lives of all, and if you view it as your own personal enterprise, you're missing the point," says Muckstadt.

Muckstadt, the Acheson-Laibe Professor of Engineering in Cornell's School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, joined the faculty in 1974. For more than three decades, he has brought the tools of real-life, private-sector experience to the classroom. "All coursework is about trying to teach students how to think about these problems," he said. "It's essentially the scientific method applied in a different way: You test the hypothesis, you revise it and you take action on it, and this is an ongoing thing."

The award -- $5,000 a year for five years -- is named for the late Stephen H. Weiss '57, emeritus chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, who endowed the program. To date, 51 faculty members have been named Weiss fellows. Muckstadt will be honored at a faculty recognition ceremony in May hosted by the Cornell Board of Trustees.

"The selection committee noted your love of teaching and your willingness to go 'above and beyond' to help students," said Cornell President David Skorton. "Your clear, logical class presentations and your use of Socratic dialogue and experiential learning to develop critical thinking skills have had an impact on generations of Cornell students."

In the nomination process, many former students recounted how Muckstadt personally placed students into internship-style experiences -- with regional companies -- that allowed them to analyze corporate manufacturing problems and develop solutions. Former students explained that he is famous for keeping his classes fresh by "continuously re-doing" exercises and labs -- to keep up with modern demands and technology.

In addition to his teaching, Muckstadt has consulted with dozens of corporations about their supply chain management and other operations, which has resulted in better financial performance and preventing jobs from moving offshore. "All faculty wish all of their students do well in life -- as Cornell students are among the chosen. I can teach skills to make students successful, but I want to teach students that they need to use their skills for societal good," he said.

Muckstadt, a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for his expertise in the logistics of disaster response, holds an A.B. in mathematics from the University of Rochester; and an M.A. in mathematics, M.S. in industrial administration and Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan.