Schooling the Next Generation of Industrial Engineers

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Catching up MHEFI Scholarship Recipient

sreenath chalilSreenath Chalil Madathil enjoyed the two years he spent as a research scientist at Binghamton University, so when a faculty position opened up, he jumped at the opportunity. Now, he’s teaching the next generation of industrial engineers and researching how to improve the experience for patients in the U.S. health care system.

Chalil Madathil, a 38-year-old native of Kannur, India, became an assistant professor at Binghamton this fall. His research involves helping hospitals and other health care providers use data to make better decisions, recognizing that the United States spends more money per capita on health care than any other country but lags behind many nations in terms of patient outcomes and experiences.

“Within the health care system, the focus is on patient-centered care, so I’m looking to see how we can use datadriven approaches to capture the U.S. patient experience and then improve it,” Chalil Madathil said. “By looking at the inefficiencies in health systems, we can create a better experience not only for patients but also for health-care workers. In terms of outcomes, there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

The teaching side of his job includes a class on probability and statistics in which industrial engineering students learn how to design the experiments they’ll be performing in the real world.

“One of my passions is working with students because I believe that I’m also learning when I’m teaching,” Chalil Madathil said. “With my focus on health systems engineering, I’m really interested in teaching students about the different challenges affecting the healthcare system and how industrial engineers could help solve those problems.”

Chalil Madathil joined Binghamton after three years as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he taught classes in discrete-event simulation modeling, data-driven decision-making and introduction to health systems engineering.

When the pandemic struck, leading to a global shortage of personal protective equipment, he and his students worked to develop online dashboards to help the city of El Paso and local organizations source masks and other PPE. Using the software program Simio, the researchers also developed simulation models to help local health agencies boost throughput at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.

Prior to that, Chalil Madathil was a research scientist for the Research Foundation of the State University of New York system, which includes Binghamton. His work involved using data to find process improvements and to predict patient outcomes, allowing hospitals to allocate staffing and tailor treatments according to patients’ needs.

Chalil Madathil earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the Federal Institute of Science and Technology in Kerala, India, in 2006. He then spent five years as a software developer for Cognizant, a technology-services and consulting company, before returning to school, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial engineering from Clemson University.

At Clemson, Chalil Madathil won a scholarship from the Material Handling Education Foundation Inc. (MHEFI), which has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships and grants since its inception in 1976. The MHEFI is an independent charitable organization dedicated to supporting the study of material handling, logistics and supply chain, exposing students to the many career opportunities in the industry.

More than 1,000 students and educators have benefitted from MHEFI support, and for the 2022-23 academic year, the organization awarded 46 scholarships totaling $177,100.

Chalil Madathil said he was grateful to have won a scholarship, but not just because of the financial assistance. “That award also was a great profile booster for me,” he said.

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