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MIE Department Welcomes Four Extremely Accomplished New Faculty Members

Woodrow W. Winchester III

Woodrow Winchester III

Golbon Zakeri

Golbon Zakeri

Four very gifted new faculty members will begin serving in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department in September of 2019. Woodrow W. Winchester III will become MIE’s new director of engineering management, and Jim Lagrant will settle in as the department’s new professor of practice in manufacturing. In addition, the MIE department will welcome Associate Professor Golbon Zakeri and Assistant Professor Meghan Huber.

Winchester brings with him over 12 years of active teaching and scholarly activities centered on advocating for more humanity centered approaches to the design and management of technological systems. Winchester is a certified professional in engineering management with over 10 years of industry experience. Active in advancing engineering management as a practice, he is currently the co-director for professional development & continuing education at the American Society for Engineering Management. 

Winchester has also served as an associate professor of engineering management at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, as well as an engineering educator and advocate. Before serving at Robert Morris, Winchester was an associate professor and systems engineering program coordinator at Kennesaw State University, an associate professor of systems engineering at Southern Polytechnic State University, and a professor of industrial engineering at Virginia Tech.

Winchester is also under contract with the CRC Press to write Inclusion by Design: Future Thinking Approaches to New Product Development (ISBN: 978-0-367-41687-4). The book is co-authored with Frances Alston and slated for a late 2020 release. Winchester earned his M.S. and Ph.D. from North Carolina AT&T State University.

Lagrant brings with him more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing engineering, mechanical design, controls design, programming, and electronic process data acquisition; with an emphasis on automating manual processes, process scale-up, new process development, and information-driven decision making.

As Lagrant says, “I feel strongly that providing students with the opportunity to apply their education before graduation is essential for success in today’s manufacturing environment. With widespread digitization and renewed need for automation, the manufacturing sector is an exciting field to be in.” 

Lagrant adds that “As the professor in practice, I will be drawing upon experience from each position I’ve held, and the breadth of my industry background should enable me to forge working relationships with local and state-wide manufacturers to establish project sites for students. I also hope to collaborate with the various advanced manufacturing centers at UMass for student and industry opportunities.”

Lagrant received his B.S. and M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He has served on the board of the Advanced Casting Research Consortium at WPI and is a current board member of the Foundry Education Foundation. He also serves as a peer reviewer of the International Journal of Metalcasting. He has given numerous presentations on enterprise manufacturing intelligence across the country.

Zakeri, whose research work focuses on energy system modeling, particularly optimization and decision-making in energy policy, comes to UMass from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where she has been on the engineering science faculty as a senior lecturer (2000-16) and associate professor (2017-19). She has also served as deputy director of the University of Auckland Energy Centre in the Department of Economics since 2010 and director of the Electric Power Optimization Centre since 2008.

“My research broadly falls in the area of operations research and mathematical programming,” Zakeri says. “The primary focus of my research is developing mathematical programming and equilibrium models related to all participants in an electricity market. These problems often include uncertainty as a feature.”

Zakeri was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012 and 2009.

From 1998 to 2000, she was a senior research associate in the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

Zakeri has published more than 30 research papers, two book chapters, and a number of conference papers and government reports. Her work has appeared in journals such as Operations Research, Mathematics of Operations Research, SIAM Journal on Optimization, Mathematical Programming, European Journal of Operational Research, Interfaces, Operations Research Letters, Annals of Operations Research and in IEEE Power Systems, Energy Systems, and Applied Energy.

Zakeri is a graduate of Iowa State University, where she was awarded a B.S. in Mathematics in 1988, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences and Mathematics in 1995.

Huber comes to UMass from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has been a postdoctoral researcher since 2016 as a member of the Newman Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation under the direction of Professor Neville Hogan. She has nearly 30 peer-reviewed journal papers and conference papers, as well as 18 invited talks.

Huber’s research topics include motor neuroscience, human-robot interaction, robotics, and physical interactions. Her research focuses on understanding human motor control, including how humans learn to control physical interactions and how humans learn from observing the actions of others. This basic research also serves to inform the development of robot controllers with human-like abilities.

Huber’s prior research focused on assessing and enhancing complex motor skill learning using virtual environments. She also developed multiple virtual rehabilitation systems for in-home use and worked on teams developing virtual training simulations for medical and military purposes.

Huber received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University in 2009 and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2011. She received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Northeastern University in 2016 under the advisement of Dr. Dagmar Sternad. As part of her Ph.D. training, she studied as a junior scientist in the Autonomous Motion Department of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tuebingen, Germany, in 2014 and 2015. (September 2019)