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Smith Helps Visiting Brazilian Students Work on UMass Campus Planning

James MacGregor Smith


MacGregor Smith

The UMass Amherst Provost’s Office recently posted a blog to publicize and celebrate a summer project in which MIE Professor James MacGregor Smith worked with three Brazilian students, along with one North American student from LSU, on a key study to relocate the Mail Services, Bulk Mail Services, and Campus Print Services on campus. Read the blog

Smith (Personal Homepage) is an expert in topological network design; facility layout and location; and stochastic network design and analysis. In particular, he is doing research on Steiner minimal Tress in 3D, Quadratic Assignment and Set Packing problems, State Dependent Queueing network design and analysis, and finite buffer queueing network models. Applications include the design of manufacturing plants, health care facilities, and many other production and service oriented systems.

Along with the five students, Smith proposed the relocation and layout of the operations of Campus Print Services, Mail, and Bulk Mail services within the Textbook Annex. Smith said that the idea is to improve the overall operational costs of the three services and concentrate their combined operations within a pleasant, commodious, and quality environmental setting.

The blog posted by the Provost’s Office, as paraphrased and quoted below, contained plenty of background information on Professor Smith’s work with the visiting students.

During the summer of 2015, UMass Amherst hosted several students from the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, a one-year, non-degree program funded by the government of Brazil for Brazilian students to study abroad in the United States.

One of those students, Nathália Jabir, was part of a team of three Brazilian students and one from LSU who worked with Professor Smith on a project vital to the infrastructure and operations of the UMass campus: creating a single physical space that will better support the work of Print Services, Bulk Mail Services, and Mail Services.

The students designed a plan to combine the offices for the three services, which Smith’s team proposed to relocate on the top floor of the recently closed Textbook Annex. The project provided Jabir with an excellent real-world opportunity to study engineering principles.

Smith remarked that Jabir was "instrumental in the project as...she was responsible for the main layout of the offices and the operations of the three services."

He also noted that her background in industrial engineering was "very helpful" during the project.

"We used interview and survey-data to create a relationship diagram and simulation of the final layout in ARENA simulation software," said Jabir.

The team produced a comprehensive report proposing the relocation of the offices, and it is being considered favorably at the upper administrative levels for actual implementation.

"It was a wonderful experience,” Jabir remarked about her summer at UMass Amherst. “I learned a lot from Professor Smith over the two-and-a-half months I was on the campus. I am very grateful to Professor Smith for giving me the opportunity to work with him. The knowledge and experiences were extremely important to my life." 

In fact, the work was so meaningful that she parlayed it into her final university thesis, which she completed this past December and received high marks.

In all, Jabir had a "fantastic" summer in Amherst. As she observed, "UMass has a great infrastructure and the whole time I was there, people were very kind and nice."

After graduation, Jabir plans to go on to work for a company at which she can apply her knowledge and language skills. She also hopes to continue her studies. (January 2016)