Twin brothers Bader and Mohammed Alhathal took first place for best undergraduate student technical paper at the 2017 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Global Conference in Philadelphia, following their win at the Western Regional IISE Conference in Oregon.
Their paper examined “Distribution Warehouse Design, Process Improvement and Waste Reduction at Empire International,” a local food processor. The team was judged on both written and oral presentation.
Mohammed, who presented the winning paper at the competitions, says the experience that taught him how to engage an audience and perform under pressure. He gives credit to his faculty advisor Dr. Kamran Abedini, industrial & manufacturing engineering department chair, for coaching him and providing essential tips.
The brothers attribute their IISE competition triumphs to the support of their faculty advisors and other professors in the industrial & manufacturing engineering department, including their senior project advisor Dr. Saeideh Fallah-Fini who had faith in them and was a continuous source of inspiration throughout their undergraduate experience.
“Without Dr. Fallah-Fini, we wouldn’t have had this chance to present our paper,” says Bader. “She is great at pushing us to the limit. She would say, ‘You guys can do more. This isn’t your limit.’ That was one of the main reasons she wanted us to compete.”
The brothers earned their bachelor’s degrees in industrial engineering in spring 2017, with Bader earning the distinction of valedictorian for the industrial engineering program, narrowly surpassing his brother by only one-tenth of a grade point. They are now pursuing master’s degrees in science and finance at USC.
Under Abedini’s guidance, students from Cal Poly Pomona have placed first 15 times in 17 years at the western region competition. In the global competition, they have placed first three times and among the top three teams seven times—a notable honor with 12 global regions competing.
“We have become known at the IISE conventions as the university to beat,” says Abedini, who has been recognized as Global Advisor of the Year twice. “Our participation has made a name for Cal Poly Pomona within industry in Southern California and internationally. We are clearly recognized for quality education among the universities and top students participating.”