Purdue appoints Young-Jun Son as new head of School of Industrial Engineering

After an international search, Young-Jun Son has been named the next James J. Solberg Head of the School of Industrial Engineering.


Son is a professor and department head of Systems and Industrial Engineering (SIE) at the University of Arizona (UArizona). His initial five-year term at Purdue will begin June 1, 2022. Rao Govindaraju, Purdue’s Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering and Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of Civil Engineering, chaired the search committee.  

Young-Jun Son
Young-Jun Son

“We thank the search committee and are truly excited to have recruited Dr. Son as the next head of Purdue IE,” said Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and Purdue’s executive vice president for strategic initiatives.

Son will succeed Abhi Deshmukh, who announced in February his plans to step down as school head after a decade of service in IE. Under his leadership, the school regained high national rankings (#1 online graduate program, #2 undergraduate program, and #10 graduate program). His Rethink IE program updated the entire undergraduate curriculum.

“Dr. Deshmukh has done an amazing job leading Purdue IE over the last 10 years,” Chiang said. “He initiated the Rethink IE program, revamped curricula and research centers, grew undergraduate student enrollment, succeeded in recruiting many outstanding faculty, bolstered alumni relations and fund raising, and oversaw space planning for the IE labs inside the new Gateway Complex. We are truly grateful for his decade of leadership.”

Son earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from POSTECH, Pohang, South Korea, and both his master’s and PhD degrees in industrial and manufacturing engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He has been a faculty member at UArizona since 2000 and department head since 2014. Under his headship, the SIE department grew in undergraduate and graduate enrollment and increased its number of faculty and staff. Marked improvements were seen in student and faculty diversity, research expenditures, new degree programs, establishment of awards and scholarships for alumni and students, and partnerships for online and global learning.

“Dr. Son has a strong, proven track record as an outstanding head of systems and industrial engineering at UArizona for almost eight years. We were thoroughly impressed by his capabilities and vision during the search process,” Chiang said. “This is a critical moment for Purdue IE, one of the most highly regarded programs across the university. I am confident that Dr. Son, with full support from the faculty, staff, students, alumni and the College, will further advance the school to be the best IE department in the U.S. and sustain the pinnacle of excellence at scale.”

Son said he is honored to be selected as the next head. “Purdue has an outstanding engineering program. I look forward to working with all IE faculty, staff, students and alumni, and the College leadership to advance the prominent IE program at Purdue.”

Son’s research specializes in modeling and control of complex manufacturing and service enterprises and distributed federation of multi-paradigm simulations. He has authored/co-authored more than 100 journal papers and in excess of 100 conference papers. He is a fellow and senior vice president of continuing education in the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), a department editor for IISE Transactions, an INFORMS Meetings Committee member, and a board member of the Winter Simulation Conference. He received the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) 2004 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, the IISE 2005 Outstanding Young IE Award, and the IISE Annual Conference and Expo Best Track Paper Awards (2005, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2018, 2019).

Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering includes 750 undergraduate students, 200 graduate students and 30 faculty members. Son will be tasked with further advancing the school’s impact, recognition, national and international standings through a strong commitment to excel in discovery, learning and engagement. He will lead IE in continuing to excel in all IE areas, and to define the evolution of the school’s IE Frontier Areas. 

“I would like to become a role model for other IE schools in the nation,” Son said. “I will strive to make Purdue IE the best and most welcoming environment for students to study and grow and a place for faculty and staff to excel. IE is needed by any large system, so I also will work with our team to collaborate with many units across campus, as well as local, regional and national communities.”