Caldwell named acting head of School of Industrial Engineering

Barrett Caldwell, professor in Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering, will be the school's acting head from Jan. 1 through May 31, 2022.


The appointment was announced by Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and Purdue’s executive vice president for strategic initiatives. Caldwell’s naming comes as Abhi Deshmukh, the current James J. Solberg Head of the School of Industrial Engineering, plans to step down on Dec. 31. Deshmukh will continue as Director of Purdue Systems Collaboratory past January. Young-Jun Son will begin his IE headship on June 1, 2022.

Barrett Caldwell
Barrett Caldwell

“I am, of course, honored to have been invited to assist and support the school during this period of transition,” Caldwell said. As interim head, he will not institute any major changes or initiatives, but he plans to use this time as an opportunity for continuous growth.

“It’s a great time for piloting new activities and preparing the best possible foundation for Prof. Son’s arrival in June,” Caldwell said. “I’m extremely grateful to Prof. Abhi Deshmukh for his Rethink IE vision and especially the great financial foundation he has laid for the school to enable us to move forward.”

Chiang echoed Caldwell’s sentiment.

“While we thank Abhi Deshmukh for his decade of leadership and prepare for Young-Jun Son’s arrival as the next head of Purdue IE in June, I am excited that Barrett Caldwell has agreed to step up as the acting head of the school from January to May next year. Barrett has served Purdue in multiple ways, including as the long-time director of Indiana Space Grant Consortium, and served the country as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State. I am looking forward to working with Barrett to continue advancing the School of Industrial Engineering.”

Caldwell arrived at Purdue in November 2000. Before coming to Purdue, he was an IE faculty member for 10 years at the University of Wisconsin. He has a courtesy appointment in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and has served as director of the NASA Indiana Space Grant Consortium since 2002. In July 2021, Caldwell began duties as a provost fellow and strategic advisor for the Equity Task Force Implementation to address and improve representation, experience and success for Black Boilermaker graduate and professional students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty.

His research team, the Group Performance Environments Research (GROUPER) Laboratory, examines and improves how people successfully get, share and use information in high-consequence settings, including aviation, critical incident response, healthcare and spaceflight operations. He also is an accomplished poet.