Beautify Grissom: An IE Tradition

The Purdue Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) launched the annual "Beautify Grissom" painting competition in 2013. IE students paint pictures of what industrial engineering means to them, which are judged by undergraduate IE students and the Industrial Engineering Advisory Council (IEAC) board. Winning paintings are hung in Grissom Hall for decoration and to inform people of the vital role that industrial engineers play in industry today. Learn more here.

Current and past winners include:


1st Place - Zoie Stitt "Rubik's Cube"

Zoie Stitt created the first-place winning piece, a depiction of a Rubik’s Cube filled with industries and concepts related to IE. Stitt says of her piece, “Much like the multitude of career paths and industries one could go into post-graduation, a Rubik’s Cube is a versatile puzzle, capable of over 43 quintillion unique combinations.” 
Zoie has been a long-time fan of the Beautify Grissom competition. “The Beautify Grissom competition has always been one of my favorite events that the school of IE puts on. The paintings are inspiring, and they remind me why I want to be an industrial engineer.” she says. “I was inspired to create this painting because I want to remind other students who are working in Grissom of the exciting future their industrial engineering degree will bring.” Zoie hopes that following her graduation this spring, she will be able to return to Purdue and see the paintings created by future students through the contest. “While I am sad my time here is over, I am happy that this contest has allowed me to leave my mark.”  


1st Place - Huichi Yang "IE Factory"

 As part of her submission, Yang described her artistic vision "my artwork concept is about drawing an IE factory, At the factory, IE students gain the ability they need and apply their strength to fix real-world problems. So you can see there's a manufacturing line with brains (=IE student) on it, and then the robot arms (=Purdue IE) give the brains specific skills to match the job position the students want. For example, you can see the  human factors engineer tag on the manufacturing line for one brain, and on the brain, there are terms like usability, cognitive, and reliability, which are the knowledge offered by Purdue IE."




2020 - (Voted in 2021)

BG #3 Painting by  by Julia Conversa

1st Place - Bethany Lengacher, BSIE 2022, "Markov on the Mind" 

Last semester, I learned about Markov chains in IE 336; when I completed my practice questions, I looked down at my notebook and was so pleased. Each problem had an organized transition probability matrix, and next to it was a unique, hand-drawn diagram. I was giddy with excitement that I had taken given situations and modeled them mathematically with nothing but a few steps. That assignment cemented the idea for this workMarkov on the Mind, in my brain.

The reason I chose to study Industrial Engineering was the idea of elegance. In the words of famous Versatec founder and physicist, Renn Zaphiropoulos, elegance is achieved when nothing must be added and yet nothing can be taken away. With my art I wanted to summarize what I consider to be the three most important aspects of IE: technical prowess, organization, and the beauty of elegance. The brain represents the technical knowledge needed to speak intelligently on all matters; the transition diagram on the right half represents the ability to think clearly and summarize complex systems into easy-to-understand models; and the flowers around the other elements represent the elegance and beauty that comes with the implementation of a well-designed process. I chose to switch the two hemispheres, making the layout opposite from the typical right/left brain diagram, because the elements of creativity and logic are so intertwined in the field of Industrial Engineering that they cannot be separated. 

The meaning of the flowers, for me, is more than just elegance, though. I grew up working for a wedding florist, and now aside from school I am a freelance florist myself. Flowers are the reason I discovered my desired career field where I would like to apply engineering, and it is fascinating to see the complex processes used in a field as small and non-engineering-related as floristry. In this way, this work is a combination of my favorite things about IE and the potential I see for myself in my future career.  

BG #2 Painting by  by Patrick Stuff

2nd Place - Tsan-Hua Tung , BSIE 2020, “Into the Mind of an IE Boilermaker”

When I first enrolled at Purdue IE in the fall of 2016, I felt like I was diving into the great unknown, much like deep and dark waters, because I couldn’t see what is ahead of me. Gradually, my journey became a great adventure for the mind, as I swim in a splendid ocean filled with deep knowledge and find it so exciting to discover new ways of solving a problem. 

Everyday, we think, rethink, and are inspired by new ideas. As we meet people with diverse experiences and knowledge from various domains, we learn to look at problems from different perspectives and generate better solutions. This is represented by the faces/eyes facing different directions, the thinking routes and the myriad of diagrams, equations and ideas passing through the multi-dimensional head.

We are all connected to one another. Through effective communication, we build connections across different domains and across the world. This is represented by the growing tree, each leaf representing a different continent from where we come from. Therefore, working together, we make impacts on the society through various ways, to improve the systems and to lift people up. 


3rd Place - Julia Conversa, BSIE 2020, "FrlEndship of the Future"

When I think of Industrial Engineering and where the field is heading, I think of the ways that IE is leading to the merging of humans and machines. In my vision for this painting I wanted to portray the Industrial Engineering degree as a bridge between the human and the robot to symbolize how it prepares us to incorporate the future of technology into our lives and work.

Industrial Engineering allows us to understand what that future relationship will look like and gives us the background we need to lead others as the world moves in that direction. I view the IE diploma as giving us that opportunity to take the next step into innovation where systems and humans will work together more than ever before.



BG #1 Painting by Varshini Srinivas


1st Place - Varshini Srinivas, "Boilers' Map" 

I have to admit that for the first week or so I had the worst time trying to come up with an idea for this canvas. Then over spring break I got to travel home, which is a 22-hour journey, and during those many hours stuck in a tiny economy seat I decided to re-watch the Harry Potter franchise (I fell asleep during the fourth movie and abandoned the idea). I am going to sound like a massive nerd, but the Marauders Map from the third Harry Potter film bore an uncanny resemblance to the travelling salesman problem (TSP) we were introduced to in IE 335, and I had my "Eureka!" moment.  That was the spark I needed to inspire my work, "The Boilers' Map", which encompasses a canonical example of optimization, the TSP, some childhood nostalgia and - I swear I am not trying to be corny - even some problem solving.  I had to create a layout for my map, decide how much material to purchase... this is starting to sound like IE383, isn't it? In the end I think I have produced a piece I feel represents my belief that engineering can be fun and playful as well as pivotal to progress in modern industry (or in my case, adapting some of the stuff I learned in class to make an off-brand Marauders Map).


BG #2 Painting by  by Patrick Stuff

2nd Place - Patrick Stuff, "Engineering 150 Years"

Purdue is world-renowned for our leaders who forge the future. From Apollo 11 & Neil Armstrong planting the flag on the moon, to Gus Grissom & the rest of our 22 astronauts, to advances in almost every field known to man, Purdue alumni have been changing the world for the better for 150 years. In this piece, I wanted to pay tribute to some of those pioneers in the field of IE. Whether it be Frank & Lillian Gilbreth, Alan Pritsker, James Barany, our distinguished alumni, incredible faculty members (past & present), or current IE students, Purdue IE has been changing history since 1955 and will do so for the next 150 years and beyond. 

In this piece, I tried to incorporate all of that into one work. I included portraits of the most influential Purdue IEs, including Gilbreth, Pritsker, and Barany. I also wanted to show that advances like theirs aren’t something that has just happened in the past and is done with, but that every student at Purdue has the chance to change the world. That is why for the 4th bubble I included two generic Purdue IEs, to show the potential for greatness that is cultivated each and every day here. I included a shout-out to student groups at Purdue with the IISE logo on the student shirt. Each one of these portraits is projected off of one of the faces of the people helping to plant the flag on the moon, in similar fashion (the poses are identical) to the iconic image from Iwo Jima in WWII. Just as those men dedicated themselves to our country and creating a better future for our nation, the people in this image dedicated themselves to Purdue and to creating a better future for the world. Above, I drew the earth as seen from the surface of the moon, with booming industry represented by the cityscape. The "150" over the earth is in tribute to the 150th anniversary of Purdue. The bottom left corner contains some words related to Purdue IE, including the 4 pillars our school values: Manufacturing, Human Factors, Operations Research, and Production Systems.


BG #3 Painting by  by Julia Conversa

3rd place - Julia Conversa, "Endless OpportunitIEs" 

In this painting, each piece of the Engineering Fountain represents one of many possible career paths for an Industrial Engineer. Throughout my time here in the Purdue Industrial Engineering program, I have learned just how many different paths I can pursue after graduation with my IE degree. I think the way our major prepares us for such a wide range of opportunities is a beautiful thing. I wanted to represent that in the way that each possible field is only a piece of the fountain, but when you see them all together, it becomes a whole picture of what we have learned and gained from our IE degree. Each aspect of the fountain is outlined with words that relate to the specific topic of that piece - manufacturing, supply chain, computing, operations research, human factors, and health care. These are in no way all-encompassing of the skills learned as an IE, but shows part of the many bits of information that all come together to build a well-rounded degree that paves the way for a future of endless opportunities.


BG #4 Painting by  Painting by Angie Wells

4th place - Angie Wells, "Our Founding and Our Future"

As graduation for me is fast approaching, I wanted to create a painting that is symbolic of the time I spent here at Purdue. I entitled it Our Foundation and Our Future because Purdue’s Industrial Engineering Program has prepared me for the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. The bottom half of the painting depicts the foundation of Industrial Engineering. The "roots" include the "founders" of IE (Fredrick Taylor, Lillian Gilbreth, Frank Gilbreth), calculus and physics concepts, computer programming, time studies, ergonomics, Markov chains, etc., all of which I feel encompasses the majority of what I have learned from my time in Industrial Engineering. The future is depicted by the college graduate and the globe, to represent the limitless, global opportunities being a Purdue Industrial Engineer affords you.


BG #5 Painting by  by Erica Chadwell5th place - Erica Chadwell, "gIant lEaps"

This painting represents Purdue IE students going out of their comfort zones to further their growth as engineers and Boilermakers. When I thought of IE & Grissom Hall I thought of many things, but one was the glass meeting room commonly called the fishbowl room. I was inspired to have my painting include something related to it as a small hint to Grissom. I took inspiration from a saying about how a goldfish's growth is constrained by the size of its bowl. By depicting a goldfish jumping from an empty small bowl to a large bowl filled with Purdue and IE symbols, I tried to show that there are many opportunities in Purdue IE for students to learn & grow. I know that there have been times that I was afraid to take the jump into something new, but I can honestly say choosing Purdue IE gave me so many opportunities I would have never had if I hadn't gone out of my comfort zone. I hope that this painting is relevant to Purdue IE students at any stage in their journey & reminds people that growth happens outside of your comfort zone!



BG #1 Painting by Parklynn Painting

1st Place - Parklynn Petty, "Oh, the Places IE'll Go"

This painting was inspired by my study abroad experience as a Purdue IE student, symbolizing the countless programs available that offer unthinkable sights, diverse educational opportunities, and life-long friendships. I wanted to represent how study abroad expands perspectives by opening up the world to explore. Each possible destination presents its own architecture, nature, customs, and society, all which develop a greater cultural understanding. I believe this is increasingly important for disciplines like industrial engineering that can take you anywhere and have you work with anyone. I personally got to experience the culture that Hong Kong and its neighboring countries had to offer, but I wanted to portray that whether it’s Asia or Europe, South America or Australia, the Purdue IE study abroad program provides limitless adventures and beautiful experiences. 


BG Painting by Shareena Paul

2nd Place - Shareena Paul, "Art of Engineering"

My painting focuses on the creativity of engineering, and specifically industrial engineering. The main focus of the piece is to show the variety of ways our philosophy of "Rethink IE" can be applied. To me, it represents where and how we as industrial engineers find our ideas and inspiration. I show the word "rethink" in a variety of languages to show that ideas can come from all around the world; I believe it represents Purdue's international culture well. We are a diverse group of students who all share a common passion for innovation. The woman's silhouette is a personal representation for me, because it serves as a way I can see myself in my work, but also serves as a way I can see myself in the world of engineering, which can be stereotyped as being male dominated. It gives a chance for other women who see my work to also see themselves be represented. I used a variety of bright colors and freehanded design because I wanted to show a side of engineering that is not typically thought of. It shows my creativity and style as an artist, and shows how I can bring these unique talents to engineering.


BG Painting by Casey Stowers3rd place - Casey Stowers, "Oops, I Did My Homework on a Canvas!"

This painting is intended as a representation of the foundations of industrial engineering moving forward into the future of industrial engineering. The foundations are depicted on the bottom half of the painting. We have a portrait of Lillian Gilbreth with her face composed of therblings. The background is a representation of much of the handwritten, theory-based work we do in IE. The top half is a representation of the present and future IE. It features the engineering fountain to represent Purdue as a large component in the future of IE. The background is a conglomeration of code from a variety of different languages to depict the movement from doing work by hand to using computers. As it is on top, the future is resting on the foundations. They take up equal space because the importance of the foundations never changes or diminishes. Even as technology progresses, it is important that we know the foundations in order to apply the technology to them and ensure it works correctly. Everything we do will always have a basis in these  foundations and that should never be forgotten.


BG Painting by Patrick Stuff

4th place - Patrick Stuff, "Lillian Gilbreth" 

This painting is a tribute to a Purdue IE legend, Lillian Gilbreth. She was instrumental in making industrial engineering what it is today. I wanted to honor that with this piece. She was a family woman (mother of 12 kids, and the movie Cheaper by the Dozen was based on her life), so if you notice, the clock tower is at 12:00 for her 12 kids. I just wanted to create a piece to show my respect for the woman who created the thing that I am passionate about, Purdue IE.



BG Painting by Began Rodder

5th place - Megan Rodder,  "passIonatE"

My piece is entitled "passIonatE". In the painting, Passion starts with the unfinished Purdue P for two reasons. The first reason is that my passion for Industrial Engineering began at Purdue. Second, this symbol represents how I will always continue learning and applying my IE skills throughout my career. The background contains various equations from topics that I have learned about throughout my time in IE. This represents the variety of knowledge taught in the IE department, making the IE students diverse. The brain represents IE ideas. There are "roads" spreading out from the brain to represent the how IE ideas can be transported and applied anywhere in the world. The buildings on the left side represent how ideas can be spread locally, through cities and hospital systems, as well as the people that can be helped through applying engineering skills. The right side has a computer to represent the increasing field of "Big Data" and the impact that technology has on IE and our world. Attached to the computer are growing vines - these acknowledge the fact that we cannot focus solely on technology, because we need to prioritize other things, such as the environment and quality.



Photo of 2017 1st place "IE: The Optimal Path"

1st Place - Natalie Geraci, "IE: The Optimal Path"

This canvas exemplifies what Industrial Engineering means to me by incorporating aspects of multiple industries and disciplines, especially those that I have been exposed to thus far. I used a clock as the focal point of the canvas that everything radiates from to emphasize the importance of time. Time is one of the driving factors that makes Industrial Engineers so crucial to every industry. Efficiency is driven most times by time reduction or process improvement, so I knew that had to be evident in my canvas. The cityscape signifies industry and business where Industrial Engineers have a significant presence. I included jets because all of my Industrial Engineering experience has been in the aviation industry, and my experiences there are what drew me to Industrial Engineering at Purdue. The arrows signify continuous improvement and the exchange of ideas. I also used half circles, gears and circuits to connect all of the components of the canvas; it was important to blend all of the sections to show how interconnected industrial engineering is with many disciplines and industries. Overall, there are many factors that go in to decisions that affect business and industry today, and Industrial Engineers play a major role in those decisions. They are behind the hard work in the inner circles that power the industries on the outer circle.


Photo of 2nd place 2017: "StarrIE Night"

2nd Place - Lily Bishop, "StarrIE Night"

My painting is based on Vincent van Gogh’s "The Starry Night", which has been one of my favorite paintings for years due to its incredible use of color and motion. I was inspired to base my painting on it because I saw it as a way to portray space travel in a dreamy, child-like way. I have been fascinated, ever since I learned what Industrial Engineering was, about the value IE can bring to the mission to put a human on Mars. To an IE, such a monumental task can be viewed as one extremely large system where every individual part must come together to achieve success. I took that idea, brainstormed a bit, and developed it into "StarrIE Night", which employs minimal symbolism to get its message across. In the bottom right, Grissom Hall and Armstrong Hall are linked by a pathway, symbolizing the partnership between IE and other engineering disciplines that is necessary for a successful manned mission to Mars. Purdue’s bell tower and engineering fountain can be seen in the center. The fountain is decorated with therblig symbols, which represent the basic motion elements used by IEs to study motion and ergonomics in the workplace. Therbligs were created by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, former Purdue professors and two of the founders of the IE discipline. Finally, in the upper right a space shuttle flies towards Mars. Physically inaccurate, yes, but a space shuttle is easily recognizable and added to the feeling of innocent excitement that I was trying to invoke. When fellow IE students look at "StarrIE Night", I wanted them to feel inspired to use their IE education to pursue their dreams, no matter how big, insurmountable, or ludicrous they may seem to others.


Photo of 2017 3rd place: "Gilbreth"

3rd Place - Nick Perkins, "Gilbreth"

This painting was inspired by Lillian Gilbreth, one of the first people to bring the industrial engineering discipline to Purdue. Gilbreth and her husband, Frank, were interested especially in the area of time and motion studies, or breaking down a task into its elements and analyzing the mechanics and safety of the job. The painting shows the silhouette of Dr. Gilbreth as an observer, watching a steel shaping laborer who happens to resemble the Purdue Boilermaker.The symbols which appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the paintings are “therbligs”, a term that Gilbreth coined herself, which (almost) happens to be her surname spelled backwards. A therblig is a symbol which represents an elemental motion in work analysis, such as grasping or holding. This represents Dr. Gilbreth’s profound impact on the continuous improvement of Purdue University. In addition to becoming Purdue’s first female engineering professor in 1935, she also taught in the areas of psychology and home economics, and was an inspiration to many young women of her time. Dr. Gilbreth also inspired those around her by her unwavering devotion to family life. She cared for twelve children; interestingly, she applied her time study research to improving efficiency at home. Dr. Lillian Gilbreth is an inspiration to Purdue for both her research contributions and personal character, and I hope that this can be reflected in this painting for Grissom Hall. Challenge Question: 17 of the 18 recognized therbligs appear in this painting. Can you identify the one that does not?



Great Heights painting by Audrey Whitmire

1st Place - Audrey Whitmire, "Great Heights"

"Industrial engineering for me has always been about seeking knowledge and solutions for purposes of benefitting mankind–about using individual talents, discoveries, and efforts to improve life for someone else. When I first started painting, I thought about what kinds of things represent engineering objectively, which can be seen in the gears, cityscape, and detailed pattern. But really the metaphor behind the painting is the idea that even an ordinary person can rise to great heights and go places he/she never thought possible through the pursuit of  knowledge and goodness (represented by the colorful gear-balloons). For me, that's what engineering is all about."

IE is Vibrant by Beck Seligman


2nd Place - Rebecca Seligman, "IE is Vibrant" 

"My painting is representative of some of the many aspects that Industrial Engineers are involved with every day. On the painting you will see: tools, representative of an industrial engineer's constant battle to produce zero waste, while still having the materials needed to finish a job; a world, Industrial Engineering is an extremely global field with work spanning every country, and it is essential to ensure industrial engineers develop the skills necessary to adapt and be successful no matter where their work is located; a clock, representative of the productivity and time management for which Industrial Engineering strives; and lastly, hands working on gears, not only is this picture representative of the teamwork needed both while working with industrial engineers and with those in other disciplines in order to get an end result, but it is also representative of the problem solving skills that are constantly being utilized to get to find a solution. I chose to paint the canvas in multiple different and bright colors in order to symbolize the countless different solutions that can be utilized to solve a problem and the creativity that is often used to reach the best solution. When I think of Industrial Engineering, I think of the many different aspects in which our field is actively involved. For me, becoming an industrial engineer means gaining skills to become proficient in many different areas, spanning many different topics and ideas. Industrial Engineering supplies endless opportunities to learn new things, providing the chance to find something you truly love doing, and that is what my painting works to represent."


From the IE Perspective painting by Pam Yuan

3rd Place - Pam Yuan, "From the IE Perspective" 

"Given the theme for the Beautify Grissom contest, "What is IE to you?" I think back to all the opportunities IE has given me to travel, having been the only Industrial Engineer on my Global Engineering Programs team, I've been able to use my supply chain management skills and economical way of thinking to travel to five countries with the team; hence the world map in the painting on the foreground. More specifically, the continent Africa is centered on the map because I spent my first summer internship as an IE student in Cameroon, my freshmen year. I associate many of positive memories of doing Industrial Engineering work there, and those experiences confirmed to me that I was in the right engineering discipline, having just come out of First Year Engineering. Within my first semester being in IE, the School of Industrial Engineering has been increasing in ranking worldwide standing at a proud #3 right now alongside Stanford University. That is why I painted the arrows on the engineering fountain as well as the arrows on the metrics that all point upward. The gears next to the metrics not only serve as the ultimate symbol of the mechanics that go into engineering, but it shows that engineering requires a lot of collaborative effort, since each gear must be working for the system to run. The left corner has a silhouette of the Chicago skyline representing the proximity of Purdue to major cities and industrial centers where we, as students, can aspire to work to make a difference in the corporate and real world. Finally, Purdue is ultimately home to me in my growth as an Industrial Engineer and Purdue's Engineering program, in general, is something I'm incredibly proud of;  therefore, I included the bell tower and arch as symbols of our school spirit.  This is what IE is to me and I am ever grateful to be part of this amazing program."




Creation painting by Askar Aubakirov & Maryam Bacchus

1st Place - Askar Aubakirov & Maryam Bacchus, "Creation"

"[The inspiration was] the famous painting by Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam. We have centered the painting around the handshake of the robot and a human," writes Aubarikov.



Flying Dreams painting by Wanyu Wu

2nd Place - Wanyu Wu, "Flying Dreams" 

"Since we were told to paint what industrial engineering means to us, I just imagined what we can become after studying all the materials and textbooks provided, that we can become everyone we want to be and our stage is not limited to the earth. Also the girl standing there holding a bunch of paper is just outlined with the color white because white includes all the colors in the world and represents diversity, and the paper she is holding can represent everything we learned in industrial engineering. So the flying papers are like flying dreams to every jobs and everywhere in the universe," Wu explains.



Old World of Industrial Engineering painting by Keegan Bruns

3rd Place - Keegan Bruns, "The Old World of Industrial Engineering"

"My inspiration for this painting was what the first thought people would have when I told them industrial engineering, and how industrial engineering has a very misleading title for a major," says Bruns. "In my opinion the IE community should change its name to efficiency engineering or something more relative to today’s time and make up."



Untitled painting by Anna Ye

4th Place - Anna Ye, "Untitled"






Untitled painting by Vandana Kumar1st Place - Vandana Kumar, "Untitled"





Untitled painting by Anna Ye2nd Place - Anna Ye, "Untitled"






3rd Place - Meagan Pluckebaum, "What We Do for Others"

"After visiting Swaziland, Africa, on a service learning trip I was inspired to figure out a way to use my IE knowledge to make the world a better place through healthcare. Swaziland has the highest percentage HIV population by country in the world at an estimated 33%. My example here is using a quick test device for countries in emerging markets to determine if a patient has HIV."


Various Facets of IE painting by Gaurav Nanda

4th Place - Gaurav Nanda, Various Facets of IE 

"IE is a multi-faceted field which encompasses various areas of problem solving and improving the process and world around us. I wanted to depict that in my painting."



Solving Puzzles, Creating Solutions painting by Lane Konkel & Emily Oskay

1st Place - Lane Konkel & Emily Oskay, "Solving Puzzles, Creating Solutions"

"As I was describing all the different parts [of IE], we struggled to find an image and representation of everything that industrial engineering is. Slowly, our brainstorming developed into piecing all the different aspects of IE using a puzzle design," says Konkel.


The IE Supply Chain painting by Kelly Patsavas

2nd Place - Kelly Patsavas, "The IE Supply Chain"

"I wanted to show how all of the different courses you can take within IE lead to graduation and success and each course plays an important role into the industrial engineer you become," Patsavas writes.



Untitled painting by Cameron Brown

3rd Place - Cameron Brown, "Untitled"

"The purpose was to illustrate that both industrial engineering and the earth/nature are all about efficiency," Brown says.



Writers: DeEtte Starr,, Julia M. Sibley,
Further information: 2016 "Beautify Grissom" Contest Winners